Foodie Pen Pal Reveal~ May

This month I participated in the Foodie Pen Pal exchange and I was very excited! One of my favorite bloggers (and a friend) has been a member from almost the beginning and every month I kept saying I wanted to join, so I finally did! I had so much fun in May picking out the items to send to my pen pal and tasting the treats I received. So here we go without further ado!

I received my box from Colleen at The Chocolate Mile and it was full of great things! She even colored a picture for me!

 

There were two really great sauces for chicken, a Buffalo Wing Sauce that my roommate and I both loved. We cooked the chicken in it, then continued to add more as we were eating it, so yummy! The other sauce is Chiavetta’s Barbeque Marinade. I haven’t had a chance to try this one yet, but when I do I will definitely use Colleen’s advice and marinate the chicken for 24 hours for added flavor.

The very first thing I opened was this apple spread! It is so yummy and contains just 2 ingredients… apples and apple cider. I am really trying to cut back on heavily processed foods, so this was perfect. And when I tried it on pancakes, I knew I wouldn’t be needing syrup for a while!!

The other star in this box was the Divine Mint Dark Chocolate candy bar… yum! Because this bar was so rich and delicious, I was able to break it up and savor it over several days. It was definitely minty and had little bits of mint candies in the chocolate to give it a little crunch. I absolutely loved it! Of course I am a sucker for dark chocolate, but that just made it all the better!

My box this month was sent to Katie, who is a blog reader but doesn’t have her own blog. But I did get this response from her:

“Hi Michelle!

I got your Foodie box yesterday! All I can say is YUM! I am so excited to try this stuff! Thank you for everything!!

Katie”

So how can you get involved in Foodie Pen Pals, you wonder? Here’s all the info:

  • On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
  • You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal! 
  • The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
  • You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)

  • Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month.
-Foodie Penplas is open to US & Canadian residents.  Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. We’ve determined things might get too slow and backed up if we’re trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa. So, I’m going to keep two separate lists and match US w/ US and Canada w/Canada!

If you’re interested in participating for June, please CLICK HERE to fill out the participation form and read the terms and conditions. You will also find contact information on that page for the UK branch of Foodie Penpals if you’re a blogger across the pond!

 

You must submit your information by June 4th as pairings will be emailed on June 5th!

 What would you have sent your foodie pen pal if you had participated?

Wednesday Walks~ Week 5

This is my 5th week of doing my Wednesday photo blogs from my walks during the week, and I am still loving them so I hope you are too! I have gotten in the habit of carrying my camera with me whenever I take off on my walk or if I head out anywhere new so I can share my photos with all of you.

Here are the highlights from this week:

Tree

I am still working on getting pictures of all of the different flowering trees while they are still in bloom. I see this one in several places along my walks, though sometimes they are pretty small and look like bushes.

Flowers

These beauties are not only gorgeous but also unique along my walk, I don’t see them anywhere but this one garden. The picture really does not do them justice, but they are large, bright red with black. They just started blooming this week and I knew I had to have a picture of them!

Wildlife

As promised, something other than a bird this week! I managed to catch a shot of a squirrel as he was running up a tree. I love squirrels!

Sky

The weather has been cloudy most of the week, though we really haven’t had much rain (of course as I say this its raining right now). I caught this shot on my way home from work, and managed to catch the sun in the clouds.

Place

This is the Haller Lake P Patch community garden. A lot of my flower pictures come from here, though the real stars are all of the veggies and herbs that people have growing in their gardens. Most evenings and on the weekends, I see lots of people working on their plots. This is one of my favorite places on my route.

Sign

This is from the elementary school that I pass, they are having their Math Night soon!

And as has become my tradition, I save the best photo for last…

Random

This week I finally got to see the infamous Bubble Gum Wall in Pike Place Market! This is really just a very small section of wall, there is a lot more than just what is seen here in the photo. People leave messages in gum… including an invitation to the prom, they also tack up receipts, business cards, etc in the gum. It was really pretty fascinating (and gross) to see all of the gum stuck to the walls along the alley… and all of the people there taking photos!

So that’s another week’s walks in the books. I am already snapping pictures for next week’s blog! I can’t wait to see what develops!

What is your favorite local landmark?

Visualization

For the last couple of weeks my iPod hasn’t been working, so I am walking to (and from) work without music. This allows my mind to really wander and I end up in some pretty crazy places. But more often than not lately, I find myself visualizing the effect that my walks are having on my body.

As I was walking home from work today, I noticed how my pants are fitting loosely around the thighs. Once upon a time they were rather tight in the thigh area. So I started picturing my thighs getting smaller with each step I took. I also kind of visualized what would happen if my pants fell down, because honestly I really need to get a belt (I mean I have lost 18.5 inches in addition to the 41 lbs).

Last week one of my walks took me to a lot of hills. Each time I headed up one of the steep hills, what kept me moving was visualizing my butt looking awesome. Right now I really don’t have a butt. My back kind of slopes out a bit so it looks like I have some junk in the trunk, but really there’s not a whole lot there (I inherited this from my dad). I am hoping hill walking and stairs might help me to develop a bit of a backside!

In addition to the visualizations about my body, I also visualize my blog posts. I tend to write them in my head at times while I’m walking, though by the time they actually hit the computer screen they are vastly different. I also have conversations with myself about issues at work or elsewhere in my life and sometimes am able to come to a resolution somewhere along the 2.25 mile route. So now my walks are performing triple duty~ transportation, workout & therapy!

What do you think about/ visualize during your workouts??

Memorial Day

I would like to take a moment at the start of this blog to remember those who have given their lives so that we may be free and to thank those that have served or are serving our country and their families.

There is no Adventure Monday to report on today. I spent most of my day at work, though I did spend some quality time with the kitties this morning before heading out (while doing laundry and dishes).

I woke up at 6am to get my produce box off the porch (yay for holiday delivery) and did not go back to bed because I needed to get some stuff done before leaving at 10am to head to work, so I am pretty darn tired right now (its 11:30pm). In addition to working, I also went to the movies tonight and saw The Avengers for the second time. I definitely recommend it if you haven’t seen it, but you must stay until the VERY end of the credits, not just the initial credits, it will be worth it, trust me!

Anyway, I want to keep this short so I can head to bed, so without further ado, here is today’s produce delivery:

I received spinach, green leaf lettuce, cucumbers, onions, potatoes, tangerines & apricots. I also added a few items to the order as usual: bananas, peaches, whole wheat cider bread, pumpkin seeds & roma tomatoes.

And now its off to bed…

How did you spend your Memorial Day?

June Challenge

I had mentioned in a previous blog that I was putting together a challenge for June as well as a larger year-long project to start after my birthday in July. Tonight I want to share the details of my June Challenge with you.

There are 5 pieces to my June Challenge, and I will be updating you on my progress every Saturday. Since I will only be two days into the challenge next Saturday, my first update will be to share my tracking methods for everything. Here are the goals for the challenge:

1. Blog daily! I will be posting to my blog every day in the month of June. I will be continuing with my Adventure Monday, Wednesday Walks and Friday 5 blogs, but will be adding in additional blogs as well, including my Saturday Challenge Updates.

2. Walk, run or bike 100 miles in the month of June. This comes out to 3.3 miles per day which is completely do-able for me.

3. Do 1000 each of push-ups, squats and crunches during the month, which comes out to 33.3 per day. Again this is something that I should be able to accomplish.

4. Eat Breakfast every day! I go through periods where I am eating breakfast all the time, then I will hit a slump and not eat breakfast for several days. This month I want to make sure that I am eating breakfast consistently.

5. Attend 5 Gym Classes. It can be any class… Zumba, Body Pump, Yoga, whatever~ I just need to get into the gym for at least 5 classes this month. While I have been exercising regularly, I haven’t been to the gym in about 6 weeks and its time to get my butt back there!

I have 2 different rewards picked out for this challenge. One of the rewards is for completing 80% of my goals, the other is for completing 100% of my goals (Thank you Laura for the idea of reaching 80%!):

80%~ 5lb Kettlebell & DVD set
100%~ Subscription to Yumvelope

What are your goals for June?

Friday 5~ Healthy Changes

I decided to share some healthy changes that I have made in my life to help me make the progress that you saw in yesterday’s blog. So here are 5 healthy changes:

1. Water! I rarely drink anything other than water any more and have stopped drinking soda entirely. I used to be a total Dr Pepper addict, but have completely broken the habit now. I will occasionally have fruit juice or lemonade for something different. I also drink chocolate almond milk once in a while for an extra protein boost. And there are the occasional adult beverages, but honestly on an average day you will find me drinking water.

2. Sleep! I used to be a total night owl and would stay up late watching movies, playing on the computer or reading. I would then have to drag myself out of bed in the mornings and would not have the energy to get through the day. Now I have cut back on my computer time, rarely watch TV (including DVDs) and clock a solid 8 hours of sleep most nights. I still read before bed, but make sure that the lights are out in plenty of time for me to get my zzzzs.

3. Walking! While I desperately miss my car, I do enjoy walking and feel great now that I walk almost everywhere. I even do my errands on foot most of the time, carrying packages to the post office or hauling groceries in my backpack. Just today I carried home an 18 count package of toilet paper plus had laundry detergent and cat food in my backpack. It keeps me active and lets me enjoy the sunshine.

4. Ditching Fast Food! I rarely eat at fast food restaurants anymore and when I do I choose healthier options. Because really, I’m not that fond of most fast food. I do have one “junk food” meal each week that is usually a burger (or hotdog) and fries at the local Five Guys, but other than that, I bring lunch to work and we cook dinner at home most nights. There are the occasional lunches out at places like Panera and we do sometimes go out to dinner, but for the most part our food is now home cooked.

5. Knowing When to Stop! This one goes two ways, knowing when I’ve had enough to eat and knowing when I need a break. When food tasted really good, I used to eat until I was so stuffed I could barely move. Now I have learned to stop eating when I am full, not stuffed. This means I get to enjoy my meal more and have more energy to do other things. As far as knowing when I need a break, there are times when I push myself and try to do more or work harder. I have learned that there are times when it is better for my body and my peace of mind to slow down and stop pushing. It’s ok to take an occasional day off where I don’t exercise at all, or where I just take an easy stroll around the neighborhood. This allows my body to rest and recuperate and makes it much less likely that I will injure myself (as I have done in the past).

So those are just a few of the changes that I have made in my life so far on this journey towards a healthier life…

What are some healthy changes that you’ve made?

Progress Pics

Ok, I promised that I would share a before and current photo of my progress when I hit 175 lbs. Since I am currently at 174 as of my last weigh in, I owe you those photos!

Before:

This was taken Thanksgiving of 2010 when I was at my highest weight, 215 lbs. I am the one in the black (the rest of the people in the photo are my parents, brother & sister-in law)

Current:

This one was taken last night.

Its a little hard to compare because I am seated in one and standing in the other, but you can really see the difference in my face! A friend of mine the other day told me (in a good way) that my chin was gone. Its true, my chin is definitely gone!

I still have a long way to go, but I have made some amazing progress so far and I am really looking forward to even more progress in the future.

Starting weight 215 lbs
Current weight 174 lbs
Total lost 41 lbs, 19% of body weight.

Wow, feels pretty good!

Walking Views

Its Wednesday, time for my weekly photo blog from my walks. I have been told by a few people that they love these blogs, so here is this week’s installment without further ado…

Tree

This is another flowering tree, there are so many varieties that I see around town. I am trying to capture the flowering trees while they are all still in bloom. Hopefully I will be able to show you all of them this season!

Flower

I only see this particular flower in one garden on my way to work and had not seen it anywhere before. I did see it today in one of the flower stalls in Pike Place Market though, so I was pretty excited about that!

Sign

I love this sign for Greenwing Gardens and Parrot Cafe. Unfortunately they no longer exist and the sign actually is pointing to someone’s house, but I bet it would have been a really fun place!

Sky

Mother Nature decided to remind us that we are indeed still in Seattle this week, so most days the sky looked more like this, grey and overcast, rather than the beautiful blue skies we had been seeing for the past few weeks.

Random

I pass this wall of rocks everyday. It actually runs for about a block along the edge of the mall’s parking lot. I do not even want to think about what might be living in there!

Wildlife

Crows are everywhere and I see so many of them everyday! I have been having a really hard time getting good wildlife pictures because the wildlife really likes to hide! I almost got a shot of a chipmunk last week, and this week came close to getting a shot of a seal at Ballard Locks. Unfortunately, I have been getting almost all bird pictures lately! Rest assured, next week will actually feature something other than a bird!

And again, I saved the best for last…

Place

One of this week’s walks included a trip through downtown Seattle and a visit to the Space Needle. This is a shot of me (now you all know what I look like!) in front of the Needle. There was another picture that shows more of the sign, but the expression on my face makes it seem like I am not enjoying myself (and I was), so I decided to go with this one instead.

Where in Seattle would you like to see me walk next?

Looking Forward

I have a lot of big plans in the works right now that I am very excited about. I am putting together a huge project that will kick off on July 16th and last for an entire year. My birthday is July 15th, so I consider this a perfect time to kickoff a project of this magnitude. I am still working on the details, but will be blogging about the project a few times before it begins.

I will also be moving forward with the first step in my new career plans soon. I am looking to start preparing for the ACE Personal Trainer certification in mid-July or August (depending when I can get the money saved for the study materials). I am hoping to take the exam sometime in early 2013. This will be the first step necessary for my ACE Weight-loss and Lifestyle Coach certification, which is my ultimate goal. I would also eventually like to be ISSA certified as well. I still have some work to do on my own weight loss journey, but I’m not letting that hold me back from pursuing my dreams any longer.

Also on the books is continuing to grow my blog, and to convert it to a self-hosted site. Because I am new to the whole deal, I am doing research on this right now and am hoping to start the conversion process very soon (like sometime in June). I will most likely need to tap into my brother’s expertise to help me get everything situated since he is the guru of all things I.T.

I am also thinking about putting together a challenge for myself in June. I love reading about the challenges my fellow bloggers are doing and am toying around with some ideas for my own challenge right now. I will post details once I have everything coordinated.

I feel like I am really on a role and want to keep the great momentum moving forward!

What projects are you working on right now?

Not Exactly the Adventure I Was Looking For

So today was Adventure Monday, yay!! But there was also a twist because I had to work today (and will for the next 2 Mondays as well). Aside from that today was filled with some highs and some scares…

The day started out as all Mondays do, I woke up at 6am to retrieve my produce box from Full Circle off the front porch. Today’s box was full of all sorts of yummies…

Green leaf lettuce, zucchini, green garlic, broccoli, peaches, radishes and red potatoes. Plus the items I added to the order… carrots, salad greens, bananas, whole wheat cider bread and a fresh pasta sauce. The only bummer was that they were sold out of the CBs Pumpkin Seeds I ordered, so I didn’t get those.

Also as per tradition, once I unpacked the box, took pictures and put everything away, I headed back to bed for a couple more hours. (I normally sleep from around midnight to 8am since I rarely start work before 11)

Once I woke up, it was time for my weigh in. Somehow I have moved the day I weigh from Sunday to Monday, but it works. I was hoping to have lost the 0.8 lbs I needed to hit my 40 lb weight loss goal. I did that and more, losing a total of 1.8lbs this week to come in at 41 lbs lost so far! It feels like since I stopped my formal workout plan and stopped tracking, I am losing at a much faster rate than normal.

I was feeling pretty pumped and ready for the day. Since I had to work today, we had to modify Adventure Monday a bit, but since I didn’t have to go to work until 4pm, it still worked out. After  a little over a week of utterly gorgeous weather, Mother Nature decided to remind us that we live in Seattle and yesterday it started raining again. We decided we were going to head out to the Ballard Locks even if it was raining, because we could hang out watching the salmon climb the fish ladder under ground… unfortunately we didn’t find out until we arrived that the fish ladder was closed for maintenance until May 25th.  And it was pouring!

So we still walked out to the locks to check things out. The locks are very similar (and were built around the same time) to the locks in the Panama Canal designed to move ships from one elevation to another. In the case of our locks, the ships are moving between Puget Sound and Lake Washington.

Looking into one of the locks on the Lake Washington side, full almost to the top.

Standing in the same location looking towards the Sound, notice how much lover the water level is!

Letting water out of Lake Washington into the Sound. The fish ladder is located to the right side of the photo.

In addition to the locks, the park is also a botanical garden. Because of all of the rain, I didn’t get a lot of pictures, but we are already planning to go back on a sunny day to tour the gardens and see the fish ladder.

You can’t even tell it was pouring down rain when I took these pictures!

We didn’t stay very long because of the rain, but did tour the visitor center before leaving. We then hit the Grocery Outlet and stocked up on groceries for the week. Before heading home for lunch, then I needed to head out to work.

When I arrived at work, I could instantly tell that something wasn’t quite right. Quite literally as I was walking in the door, my boss was receiving a death threat over the phone. I think the first words out of my mouth when I saw her was “Are you OK?” to which she responded “No” and let us know about the phone call she had just received. We called the police to report it and our Loss Prevention person to find out how we should handle things. They decided that it was most likely a crank call and to proceed as normal. Needless to say we were all very freaked out about it, especially my boss for multiple reasons. So my shift at work was incredibly stressful, not only because of the threat and its effect on us, but also because we have inventory tomorrow and were trying to get everything ready, plus trying to ensure that we were all safe. We made it through the night without incident, but are taking additional precautions going forward to ensure that no one is in the store alone.

I wish I could say that was the end of the “adventures” for the day, but there was still one more. When I work until closing I have a 35-50 minute wait for my bus after work. Last week there was an incident at the transit center on a night I didn’t ride the bus, add that to the whole scare at work and I was really hyper-aware of my surroundings. Of course tonight would be the night that there is hardly anyone around when some random man starts talking to me. Sure he was probably harmless, but it really just set me on edge (and made me wish that I had accepted my roommate’s offer to come pick me up from work when I told her what happened). Thankfully nothing happened, my bus arrived (he didn’t get on it) and I came home. But it certainly makes me pretty happy for the self-defense courses I’ve taken in the past.

All in all, it wasn’t a bad day, just filled with a little too much of the type of adventure I don’t necessarily look for in my life! There will not be an Adventure Monday next week, even though its Memorial Day, I will be working all day. But the following week, we’ll be having an Adventure Sunday instead!

Have you ever had a frightening situation at work?