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Jul. 23rd, 2015

Funky Fingers, "Rollin' With My Homies"

I actually painted my nails last week! It's probably the first time this year.

When we were at Five Below I could resist this aqua, yellow, and black glitter polish. I've only bought one of their Funky Fingers polishes before, and it was pretty terrible, but at only $3 I figured I'd give it a try. I painted it over a black base and (go figure) it was one of the worst glitters I've ever worked with! Very clumpy, but manageable.

Funky Fingers "Rollin" With My Homies"

That night the polish on my index finger popped off. I re-painted it, but the next day both index fingers popped off! I didn't want to deal with it anymore, so I just painted those with a matching teal polish. By the next day I'd lost another nail worth of polish and ended up pulling everything off. I would definitely recommend avoiding Funky Fingers polishes, but wouldn't be surprised if another color suckered me again in the future! ;)

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Jul. 21st, 2015

Salad Dressing Experiments

Sometimes I go a little crazy and make tons of mini-batches of recipes I want to try. This time it was a set of lightened salad dressings with the buttermilk + mayo base. Should I try the "Creamy Sesame" or the "Creamy Asian Peanut" or the "Creamy Peanut Sesame"? Make them all!

Salad Dressing Experiments

Jul. 17th, 2015

5:2 Update - Week 26, Month 6

This has been quite a crazy month! We managed to keep up with our diet days, but otherwise eating & exercise were all over the place....

The first week I busted my butt working out and watching what I ate on non-diet days and only lost 1 lb. I miss the early days where I could easily loose 2 lbs. a week, but I think I must just be to the point where the loss is a little harder & slower. Either way, after doing the same amount of work the week before & losing nothing, I'll happily take the pound!

Then I was suddenly hit with fever and exhaustion. It hurt to swallow and I was nauseous, so I had little appetite. Exercise was out of the question. After a few days I was feeling better other than the sore throat, and a week later I thought it had gone away.... only to come back that night with a vengeance. I stopped by Urgent Care, found out I had strep, and got some meds that helped clear it up quick.

The next week I was feeling mostly better, and kept telling myself I needed to start exercising again, but with our busy schedule I couldn't seem to find the time or motivation. Even without doing a bit of exercise those two weeks (other than hours & hours of painting our bedroom, haha), I ended up losing about 5 pounds! I'd already been feeling a little burnt out doing so much exercise lately, so this encouraged me to cut back a little there and focus a little more on what I eat.

Week 4 I forced myself to start exercising again, but only about 10 minutes of strength (Pilates) and 10 minutes of cardio (Zumba) each weekday. I don't know how I managed to do 30 minutes of cardio for so many months, I could barely make myself do 10 this week! This week I only lost about 1/2 a pound, but considering I didn't gain back all of the weight I lost from being sick, I'm pretty happy with that!


Total for the month ~ 5.8 lbs. and between .25"-.75" off the waist, hips, and thighs!

Total for 6 months ~ 29+ lbs., 5"+ off the waist, 4" off the hips, and 2"+ off the thighs. Woohoo!

Purple hair & dress

And I had a nice moment today... I pulled out a purple dress that I haven't worn in a long time because it was too tight. Even now I was wasn't sure if it would fit, and the thing was positively baggy on me, haha! I still wore it though because it looks nice with my new fuschia hair!

Jul. 13th, 2015

5:2 Low-cal Loaded Potato Soup (201 calories)

I'm dying in this summer heat, but still often make soups for diet days because they are so easy to make low cal! My husband and I are also getting over strep throat, and hot soup really hit the spot in spite of the sweltering temps.

A while back I was playing around with the creamy cauliflower sauce again, and used it as the base for a potato soup. I did not add much broth to the sauce this time, and the result is a very thick, creamy, potato-y soup base (made completely from cauliflower!). I threw in a few potato chunks for good measure, along with a little spinach and potato fixin's, and it turned into a wonderful Loaded Potato Soup at a fraction of the normal calories.

And as a bonus, I was surprised to find that this soup is extra filling! I suppose that's because the soup is mostly made of pureed veggies instead of just broth. The first night we made it I had only had about 100 calories earlier and yet I was stuffed after dinner! I could have stopped there but enjoyed some treats instead.

5:2 Low-cal Loaded Potato Soup (201 calories)

(For those of you counting calories, I've added the amount for each ingredient so you can easily make tweaks without having to re-calculate everything. Anything marked with an asterisk* may vary a lot based on what you buy, so make sure to compare your label.)

Low-cal Loaded Potato Soup

2 Tbsp. minced garlic (0)
2 Tbsp. butter (200)
6 cups water (0)
3 tsp./cubes chicken bouillon (8, most is drained)
5 cups cauliflower florets (125)

3 cup potatoes, 1/2" cubes (300)
2 cup spinach (14)
1/2 cup skim milk (40)
1 tsp. salt (0)
1/2 tsp. pepper (3)
1 tsp. chicken bouillon (5)

4 Tbsp. Real bacon bits (100*)
2 green onions, thinly sliced (10)


1) Sauté minced garlic in a medium pot (3-4 quart) over low heat. Cook several minutes, until the garlic is soft but not brown. Scrape the butter and garlic into your blender.

2) Fill the pot with water & bouillon and bring to a boil. Add cauliflower florets, cover and boil on medium heat for 10 minutes, until tender (don't drain). Use a slotted spoon to remove the cauliflower into the blender and add 2 cups of the broth.

3) Add the potatoes to the remaining broth in the pot and boil, covered, for 10 minutes. While the potatoes are boiling, blend the cauliflower until smooth and creamy.

4) When the potatoes are done, drain off the broth. Add the blended cauliflower to the pot along with the spinach, skim milk, salt, and pepper. Cook for a few minutes minutes to wilt the spinach and heat through. Serve, garnished with the bacon bits and green onion. Serves 4.

Calories - 201 for 1/4

Jul. 8th, 2015

Happy Birthday Orson

Our big guy turns 5 today! He was loaded up with building toys (Legos, wooden blocks, a Kinex rollercoaster, and snap circuits), a bird that repeats what he says, a soccer ball & goals, and more. No big party this year, but he helped decorate his own cookie cake and we are heading to Chuck E. Cheese's around dinner time (or "Shuggy Sheese", as Orson calls it).

End of O"s Pre-K, 1 End of O"s Pre-K, 11

5-15, Pattern blocks

Orson matured so much last year in Pre-K & in a few weeks he'll be riding the bus to Kindergarten! Such a big kid. Happy birthday Orson!

Jul. 3rd, 2015

5:2 Southern Shrimp & Sausage over Cauliflower Grits (205 calories)

One day I had just finished writing out our grocery list when the idea for this meal popped into my head. I had already planned a dinner for our diet days, but scrapped it right away because I knew my husband would love this one. I pulled up a few recipes and typed up my plan of attack, basing the topping mostly on this recipe.

We normally use pre-cooked frozen shrimp for recipes, but I used some raw shell-on shrimp I got on sale this time and they were amazingly good! Way better than normal. Perhaps we just got lucky with a good brand, but I'll definitely be buying them raw in the future.

5:2 Southern Shrimp & Sausage over Cauliflower Grits (205 calories)


(For those of you counting calories, I've added the amount for each ingredient so you can easily make tweaks without having to re-calculate everything. Anything marked with an asterisk* may vary a lot based on what you buy, so make sure to compare your label.)

Southern Shrimp & Sausage over Cauliflower Grits

4 cups water (0)
1 tsp. chicken bouillon (5)
6 cups cauilflower florets (150)

1/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (110*)
2 Tbsp. skim milk (10)
1/2 Tbsp. butter (50)
1 tsp. Lawry's or Old Bay seasoning (0)
1 tsp. minced garlic (0)
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper (1)
1/8 tsp. black pepper (0)


1) In a medium pot over medium-high heat, add the water, chicken bouillon, and cauliflower florets. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook for 10 minutes.

2) Drain out the broth, then add the cheese, milk, butter, Lawry's, garlic, cayenne pepper, and black pepper. Blend with an immersion blender until texture resembled grits. Divide between four bowls.


1 cup (or more) onion, chopped (60)
8 oz. medium raw shrimp, peeled, tails removed (224)
1/2 cup red or yellow bell pepper (9)

4 oz. turkey kielbasa (200*)
1 tsp. Lawry's or Old Bay seasoning (0)
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper (1)
2 tsp. minced garlic (0)
1/4 cup water (0)

3) Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

4) Add shrimp and bell peppers and cook for 2 minutes. Add the turkey sausage, Lawry's, black pepper, and garlic, and toss to coat. Cook for another 2 minutes (or until shrimp is cooked through).

5) Add 1/4 cup water and bring to a boil, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen any browned bits. Remove from heat and let stand 2 minutes before serving, then spoon the shrimp mixture over the grit. Serves 4.

Calories - 205

Jul. 1st, 2015

First Trip to Ikea

Uggh. Sick again! Friday I woke up with a store throat & could barely stay awake all day. I've had some dizziness, nausea, fever, etc., but have fared pretty well as long as I stay parked on the couch. After 6 days the sore throat is still sticking around, but otherwise I mostly feel better.

And somehow in the midst of that, we managed to make our first trip to Ikea! (before I noticed the fever, whoops) I drooled over Ikea catalogs years before we had one in our state. Unfortunately, by the time we got one, we also had a baby, and none of us were up for the 1+ hour car trip there. (Or we had no money, and what's the point of going if you can't buy *something*.) Luckily our new house puts us about half an hour away.

My son's upcoming 5th birthday was the round about cause of this spontaneous trip. He's been sleeping in a convertible crib/toddler bed the last few years and it was way past time to get this tall boy an upgrade. We've been eyeing the Kura loft for a while, and managed to snag a used one (with the canopy) off of Craigslist for half price on Friday.



We put it together the next morning and our kids had a blast climbing and playing in it... Until the 2 year old fell on her butt coming down the ladder and got too nervous to go up & down without our help. Which she still wanted to do, a lot! We planned on adding a Trofast shelf to use as stairs later on, like this, and so we suddenly found ourselves heading out the door with Swedish meatballs on our mind.



We'd heard that Ikea is massive, but that really doesn't prepare you for the scale of things. There's a parking garage for the store, people! We grabbed a map and came across the shelves first thing, then wandered half of one floor before we were ravenous and hightailed it through the 2nd half to get back to the cafeteria. With 2 crazy kids and a sickly mom, we weren't up for perusing the 2nd floor, though we did make a quick stop by the lighting section, where we picked up the Exploding Death Star lamp ~


(Image via Gizmodo.)

We wove through the rest of the floor towards the exit, found our shelves in the warehouse, checked out, and snacked on some cinnamon buns. With the half hour drive there, the whole trip probably took about 4 hours. Still feeling a little overwhelmed as we drove past the line of flags on the way out, we decided Ikea is definitely large enough to be it's own city. I'm sure it won't be too long before we brave the store again, but you can bet we'll be dropping Orson off in the kid's play area!

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Jun. 25th, 2015

5:2 Chinese Hoisin Chicken Lettuce Wraps (210 calories)

I was tempted to try these 5:2 Chinese Egg Roll Wraps from Lavendar and Lovage, but I was not anxious to blow 70 calories on an egg to make one wrapper for the meal. I bought some rice paper/spring roll wrappers to test out instead, but even 30 calories sounded high if I wanted to use two. And then I realized... why not just use Romaine leaves like my Turkey & Mushroom Asian Lettuce Wraps? Using only 5 calories or so for the wrappers let me add in more chicken, more sauce, and lots of veggies! I mixed things up a little and used Hoisin sauce in place of the sweet chili sauce and the results are tasty!

5:2 Chinese Hoisin Chicken Lettuce Wraps (210 calories)

(For those of you counting calories, I've added the amount for each ingredient so you can easily make tweaks without having to re-calculate everything. Anything marked with an asterisk* may vary a lot based on what you buy, so make sure to compare your label.)

Chinese Hoisin Chicken Lettuce Wraps

4 cups savoy cabbage, shredded (78)
1/2 cup shredded carrot (26)
2 green onion, thinly sliced (10)
2 tsp. grated ginger (2)
2 tsp. minced garlic (0)

5 oz. cooked chicken, shredded or chopped (170)
1/2 tsp. Chinese 5 spice (2)
1/4 cup Hoisin sauce (120*)
3 oz. Romaine (12)


1) Heat up a large pan over medium heat. Add the savoy, carrots, green onion, ginger, and minced garlic and mix well. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

2) Add the chicken, 5 spice, and Hoisin sauce and mix well. Cook for a minute or two to warm through.

3) Cut the Romaine leaves into 4" long pieces. You may also want to trim the widest pieces down to about 4-5" wide to make them easier to handle (some are huge!). Each person will need 5-6 pieces.

Romaine Lettuce WrapsRomaine Lettuce Wraps

To eat, spoon some of the mixture down the center of the leaf and fold in half like a taco. Serves 2.

Calories - 210 for 1/2

Jun. 23rd, 2015

How to Shred Cabbage & Savoy vs. Napa

The other day I walked by an older woman in the grocery store who was staring at the spice section. She was on the phone, and I overheard her say, "Now I've just got to figure out what 'lime zest' is!" I quickly spoke up, realizing she was never going to be able to hunt that one down, and explained how to use a fine grater on the peel of the lime to get the zest. It really is an odd ingredient if you are not used to it!

I think at some point we've all had to do a Google search to figure out how to cut or prepare some new ingredient for a recipe! One I often think about is shredded cabbage, because I use it so often in my Asian recipes. I can just picture some poor soul pulling out a big cheese grater, grumbling as it takes forever to shred four cups worth. The name can be a little confusing, since you really just need to slice it into little strips. Here's what I do...

Shredding cabbage

Break off and discard any dirty outside leaves. Cut off a chunk to the side of the stem. This is usually a little tall, so I slice it in half for shorter shreds.

Shredding cabbage

Then slice these pieces into small strips, about 1/8-1/4". Soon you will have handfuls of shredded cabbage!

If you are going to use the whole cabbage at once, you can cut it into quarters and cut the stem out first like this. I usually only need a few cups at a time, so I like cutting off sections instead. If I need a little more I can trim off a tiny bit, or a big hunk if I need a few more cups. The remaining head stays fresh longer and takes up less space than leftover shreds would if you cut the whole thing.



Savoy vs. Napa Cabbage
Savoy via Wikia, Napa via Harvest to Table


Savoy vs. Napa Cabbage ~

Both of these cabbages have leaves that are a little thinner and more wrinkly than your standard green cabbage. I use either one in Asian dishes interchangeably. Originally I always bought napa, which you can easily shred by chopping off the bottom 1/3rd, cut in half (or quarter) lengthwise, and then slice into strips. But then I noticed our store at the time charged the same amount per pound for the savoy and napa. Since I was discarding over 1/3rd of the napa, I figured I was getting a better deal buying savoy, and I can usually find smallish ones that I can use up easier. Just grab whichever you can find, or whichever is cheaper, and you are good to go!


Here are a few recipes that use shredded cabbage ~

Very Veggie Soup
Chicken & Mushroom Chow Mein
Thai Red Curry Soup
Chicken Satay Noodle Soup

And I'll have a new recipe that uses savoy for you on Thursday!

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Jun. 19th, 2015

5:2 Update - Week 22, 5 months

What a disappointing month!

The first week restaurants were definitely to blame. My husband requested we visit a breakfast buffet, because we hadn't been to one in years. But after that we were visiting family & traveling, and ended up eating out another time or two because of it. We normally only eat out once a week, and by the end of that week I had gained a pound and a half! (Even with all of the exercise & diet days)

The next two weeks I managed to lose that weight along with another pound, but this last week the scale didn't budge at all. I don't feel like I was eating really bad & did my daily exercise, so I'm not sure what happened! Actually, right now my whole body is *so sore* from my workouts this week, so perhaps I'm just loaded with muscle now, haha. After 4 whole weeks I am down a depressing .8 of a pound, but at least I dropped another 1" from the waist.

After 5 months I'm starting to feel a little burnt out & have been considering going a little easier on the diet or exercise, but not after a month like this! Ugh. Hoping for a better report next month.

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