02/04/2013

A Lighter Hot Cocoa

Happy first Monday in February!  I don’t know about all of you, but I am moving pretty slow this morning after a late night watching the Super Bowl.  We went to my parents’ house around 5:00 pm yesterday and finally left around 11:00 pm, which for those of you who know me are well aware this is way past my typical bedtime!  We thought we were going to be home at a more reasonable time, but thanks to the power outage in the third quarter, our plans quickly changed.  However, I wouldn’t change a thing because it just gave me extra time to spend with my parents and brother.  I may be wishing I was back in my bed right now, but getting to spend such a great evening with my family truly makes the dark circles under my eyes this morning worth it.

I was hoping to have more time to write today’s blog post, but by the time I got home I was exhausted and needed to finish cleaning a few dishes I had taken over to the party, and then transferred some wash to the dryer.  After this, I headed straight upstairs to go to sleep.  I am already realizing this morning that caffeine is going to be my best friend throughout the day, and I figure what better way to start than with a little cocoa coffee.  I mixed two tablespoons of my homemade Sugar-Free Hot Cocoa Mix with about a cup of strong black coffee and a splash of milk.  I may be feeling tired this morning, but there is nothing like starting off a new work week with just a little chocolate to put some extra pep in my Monday morning step.   

Sugar-Free Hot Cocoa Mix

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Ingredients

1/3 cup Stevia

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1/3 cup nonfat dry milk

2 tablespoons corn starch

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions

Mix together all ingredients.  Store in an airtight container at room temperature.  I like to keep the mixture in a mason jar in my cupboard, right next to my coffee beans!

 

I hope you all have a great Monday and a fabulous start to your week!

 

Questions

  • What did you do fun this weekend?
  • Did you watch the Super Bowl and/or go to a party?
  • What was your favorite commercial during the Super Bowl?
  • What is your favorite way to make coffee?
  • How do you get energized when you’re lacking sleep?
02/02/2013

‘Touchdown’ Mexican Relish Dip

My family loves both football and good food, and is always looking for any excuse to get together. Because of this, it is pretty easy to guess what we are going to be doing this Sunday.

Every time there is a big football event, whether it’s the Super Bowl, the National Championship, or Ohio State v. Michigan, my family and I get together to watch the big game while eating delicious and football-inspired foods. We like to keep it simple and laid back, but somehow all of us being together feels like a special occasion no matter the reason. This Super Bowl Sunday we will be heading over to my parents’ house to watch the Ravens v. the 49ers, and you can bet there is going to be a lot of great dishes to make and enjoy.

One of my easiest and most favorite appetizers to bring to a party is a simple Mexican Relish Dip. It literally takes minutes to put together, tastes great, is budget friendly, healthy, and can feed a crowd.

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If you are heading out for a Super Bowl party this weekend as well, I highly encourage you to make this recipe to win over the fellow football fanatics, and thank the host/hostess for planning the party. Feel free to add chicken like I did if you would like to make this dish a meal in its own, or leave out the chicken for an easy vegetarian dish everyone, even those meat lovers, will love. No matter how you make it, this dip is sure to guarantee a winning touchdown every time!

‘Touchdown’ Mexican Relish Dip

 [gmc_recipe 307]

02/01/2013

Love is All You Need

My jaw literally dropped when I woke up this morning and realized that today is the official start of February. I don’t know about anyone else, but my January seemed to fly by and it feels like just yesterday was New Year’s Eve and I was celebrating the start of 2013 with my awesome husband and some of my best girlfriends. Now here we are, weeks later, gearing up for what is sure to be another exciting month in our household.

This morning I woke up and headed to the gym at 5 am to continue sticking with my new workout plan.  I know I am already drifting from the schedule since I am working out on a Friday instead of a Thursday, but since I had personal training Monday, I actually worked out Wednesday and Friday this week too.  Let me tell you, it was tough to leave my warm and cozy bed this morning and head out into 9 degree weather, but once I got to the gym and got moving I was really happy to be there.  This weekend I will be doing a lot of cleaning and laundry, but I am absolutely looking forward to a Pure Barre class and coffee with my mom tomorrow, church Sunday morning, and then a Super Bowl party at my parent’s Saturday evening.  It should be a great time!

Since Valentine’s Day will be here before we know it, I thought I would go ahead and touch on my feelings surrounding the 14th. Many people think it is simply an unimportant and over-hyped ‘Hallmark Holiday.’ It can be seen as an excuse to let the ones you love know they are appreciated, cared for, and not taken for granted for only one day out of the year, when in reality those actions should be shown every day. Honestly, I couldn’t agree more that a holiday should not be the driving point behind showing someone we care, but sometimes it is easy to get wrapped up in the business of our lives and forget to make a big deal of our love the way we should. Having a reminder to show love allows many people the opportunity to stop and smell the roses, or to pause and appreciate their relationships.

CandleConversationHearts

I like to deem February the month of love in our home. I am definitely one of those lovey-dovey, googly-eyed, celebrators of Valentine’s Day. I am well aware that it can create many different feelings among each individual person.  Loving, loathing, romancing, loneliness, happiness, sadness, excitement, dread, etc., and on and on and on are all feelings and emotions that may come into existence during this time of the year.

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Even though I adore the idea of being romanced by my husband no matter the day or reason, I think there can be way too much pressure on people to have a significant other to love on Valentine’s Day. Why can’t Valentine’s Day simply be a day to be reminded of all the fabulous people we have in our lives to love? So many of us are blessed with wonderful parents, siblings, aunts and uncles, and great friends; why not take the time to show them how much we love them too? Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be all about romantic gestures; it can also be simply about that wonderful feeling of love we have towards others in a variety of different ways.

heartornaments

Even before boys were on my brain, I always looked forward to Valentine’s Day. As a kid, what wasn’t to like? I had an excuse to eat yummy chocolate and candy, we had parties in our classroom at school, and I got to pick out my favorite Valentine’s cards to give to my friends at school. Even today it sounds like a pretty good time to me!

My mom also enjoyed making Valentine’s Day extra special for both my brother and I. She would buy us our favorite chocolates from Esther Price, a local chocolate shop that sells quite the indulgent treats and reminds me of my youth with every bit that I take. She would purchase either the heart shaped milk chocolates wrapped-up by vibrant foil in reds and pinks, or a chocolate box of our very own that was packed with the most delicious cream-filled or solid bite size milk chocolates. The turtles were also super delicious and were a favorite of mine, my mom, and my grandma. Yep, we are three generations of die-hard sweets and chocolate lovers!

candyandframe

My mom would also give me special Valentine’s Day cards signed from her and my dad that always reminded me how much I was loved by my parents. I am not going to say that every Valentine’s Day was easy, not by a long shot! Somehow knowing I could count on this extra dose of love though always helped me through what could be a tough and lonely holiday, especially during those years in middle school, and then at the end of high school through the first year of college when I was a single lady. In fact, I still have many of those cards today that I had saved and reading those sincere and kind words from my mom is enough to bring me to tears and may even be able to make those most unsupportive of the holiday believe that even some joy can come from the day.

apothecaryjars

So this Valentine’s Day, why not show everyone we love how much they mean to us?

Here are a few examples of ways we can spread the Valentine’s Day joy to everyone this year:

  • Send a Valentine’s Day card through the mail or by email, just a simple note letting them know you care.
  • Meet for a girls night to celebrate Valentine’s Day with a toast to friendship.
  • Send some chocolate or candy.  It doesn’t have to be expensive, how about some Valentine’s Day Snickers Bars, or red, white, and pink M&Ms?  Simply place in a mason jar and add a festive ribbon.
  • Bake a batch of cookies, or my favorite Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies and deliver them on a Valentine’s Day plate, wrapped in cellophane, and again tied with a ribbon.

redvelvetcheesecakebrownies

  • Send a simple text letting the person know they are loved.
  • Celebrate your parents love for each other by treating them to a date night with a gift card to a favorite restaurant and a pair of movie tickets.

 

If you are looking for some romantic ideas for that one very special person, I highly encourage you to sign up for the 14 Day Romancing Your Husband Challenge like I did!  It is hosted by Sharon Jaynes who is one of the authors of my favorite daily devotionals, Girlfriends in God, which I read every morning.

 

This Valentine’s Day and during the entire month of February, I hope you know you are loved, are given plenty of love by others and show love to them in return.

 

Just a Reminder, it is National Wear Red Day! Wear red to support the fight against heart disease today. You can bet I am wearing a bright red turtleneck to stay warm today, while bringing awareness to the issue!

Questions:

  • What are your thought surrounding Valentine’s Day?
  • What is the best Valentine’s Day you have ever had?
  • Do you have any Valentine’s Day traditions?
  • What is one of your favorite ways to show someone you care?
  • What are you doing this weekend?