July 1, 2011

Gadget & Technology Madness!

There is something that I can't resist about new things.... especially if they're related to technology :-) I just love the feel of a new gadget in my hand or a new program on my computer that let's me do something cool!

These are all my latest techy obsessions on my list. So far I've only conquered one of them. The Samsung Galaxy Tab! I love, love, love that thing! I love that it's like my little computer that I can take anywhere. The screen is bigger than my phone but it's no where near as heavy as my laptop.
It will be even better when I can get Google + on it! I really, really want to get on Google +. Why you ask? Mostly...... because I can't! LOL! There is something about not being able to have access to something new that everyone else has that makes you want it more. I think it's going to be really cool and I can't wait for my invitations to come through so that I can join in the fun!
The alarm clock is something that I've wanted for a really long time but the truth is..... I'm just too cheap to buy it! LOL! I can't seem to justify $50 for an alarm clock. However, that might be coming to an end rather quickly because I think I would much rather be woken up by music than a loud and obtrusive noise.... it's working my last nerve :-)
The camera.... oh the camera. I have a camera that's really nice and it works. The problem is that I want a new one. Only because i can get a new one that has more features than the old one that works just fine. Ha!

Technology.... I'm a sucker for it! Apparently, from reading what I've just written I'm also a sucker for ...... and !!!! He he he!


June 29, 2011

33 Is The New 21!

My littlest sister Lauren & I

So, I've turned 33! I can't tell you how great it feels! I've lost 30 pounds so far and I'm feeling amazing!

People have always said that your 30's are the best years of your life and boy were they right! I am thoroughly enjoying my 30's and really hoping that it just continues to get better as I age. There is something about life right now where, although I'm busier than I've ever been with school, work, and family, I'm really loving my life. I feel like I'm finding a deeper meaning to the purpose in my life. I'm learning to appreciate the small things more and more and to really cherish the little moments with my family and friends.

I'm so looking forward to the next chapters in my life. I can't wait to see what all God has in store for me! SO EXCITING!!!

March 1, 2011

Thank God for Fiber!

Well, it's no secret anymore that I love to eat! I'll eat just about anything to, as long as it's covered in chocolate and sugar is in the ingredients list. HA! One of my favorites is Girl Scout Cookies. All those cute little girls standing outside the grocery store to catch me as I'm headed in to get my groceries so that I will inevitably spend $20+ on their little boxes of yummy, hip sticking cookies. My all time favorites are these:

You can call them samoas, caramel delights, or as we say in my house, "those yummy girl scout cookies in the purple box"! Call them whatever your little heart desires. The bottom line is, I can shamelessly (and I do mean shamelessly) eat an entire box of these in one sitting!

Thankfully while my sister was at the store the other day she saw these:

These little puppies are A-MA-ZING! They taste identical to the Girl Scout Cookies! The best part about it is that I can get a lot of my daily fiber out of these and because of the fiber, they don't have near as many points as those blasted hip loving cookies do. If you haven't ever tried these you should... they are too yummy to pass up!

February 17, 2011

Jingle Bells

Jingle bells takes on a whole new meaning with this video. Yes, I am fully aware that Christmas has long passed, but this little video makes me grin ear to ear every time I watch it! I love that I have such a musical family. I also love that the "musical gene" has naturally found it's way into the next generation. Both my niece and nephew just love music! They love to sing, dance, play instruments all just the same. I love how my family is always encouraging their sweet little gifts. Hope you enjoy this as much as I do!

video

February 14, 2011

L-O-V-E

I love Valentines Day! There is no shortage of love in my family. It's no secret that I'm the pickiest girl in the world when it comes to men so, I've had very few "Valentines" all to myself in my life. However, there is one that has always been consistent... my daddy! When my mom was a single mom she would always make sure we had a "Valentines surprise" waiting for us by our bed or outside our bedroom door when we woke up on Valentines Day morning. Since my parents have been married she has passed the torch to my dad. There hasn't been a Valentines day yet that all of us girls haven't gotten something from my dad. He ALWAYS remembers!

One of my favorite memories is when one year, I was on my way to work, and my dad was running late getting back home with his Valentines goodies before I left for work. He really wanted me to have them before work so he caught up with me and stopped me in the middle of the road to get out of his car to give me flowers and chocolates on my way to work. He's the best!

Today, he surprised me (TOTALLY caught me off guard!) at my office with these:
For those of you that don't know.... my office isn't exactly a hop, skip and a jump from my house. It's more like a hike, nap and another hike from my house! That was quite the trek from some delicious (and almost gone!) chocolate covered strawberries :-)

Every girl should have a daddy that is as thoughtful and loving as mine. It's something so simple but it's just a great reminder that my daddy loves me and would do anything in the world for me (i.e the hike, nap and a hike). For any daddy's out there that read this: make sure your girls know how much you love them. Not just on Valentines Day but every day. There isn't anything in this world that can compare to or replace a father's love!

Love you Daddy!


February 11, 2011

Sweet Potato Empanadas

My new favorite dessert! This dessert is great for cold weather and is still figure friendly! They're fairly easy to make and you can prep the filling ahead of time. I think that they taste best when they are fresh out of the oven. These are fun to make when you're having a crowd over and need a dessert that you can eat without using a lot of points. These little puppies are only 2 WW points each! Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Empanadas

8 Reduced Fat Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
3 Tbsp All-Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Cooked Sweet Potato
1 Tbsp Unpacked Brown Sugar
1/4 Cup Sugar
2 Tbsp Smart Balance Light Buttery Spread with Flax
2 oz Weight Watchers Reduced Fat Cream Cheese Spread
Splash of Lemon Juice
Cinnamon

Filling:
Combine sweet potato, brown sugar, splash of lemon juice, and cream cheese in a bowl and set aside.

In another bowl, mix together your regular sugar, cinnamon, and a little bit of salt if you like and set aside.

Preheat your oven to the temperature on the crescent roll can. (I think it's 375F)

Get out your baking pans (you'll probably need two) and line them with parchment paper or spray them with non stick spray.

For the dough, you'll want to start with a clean work surface like your counter. Sprinkle your 3 Tbsp of Flour on the counter so that you can place your dough on it to prevent sticking.

Take your crescent rolls out of the can. Divide the roll in half along the dotted line in the middle. Now, unroll one half of what you just divided. When unrolled it should look like a really long rectangle. Divide what you just unrolled in half along the dotted line in the middle of your rectangle. You should end up with two sets of dough. Take one set of triangles (2) and pinch the dough together along the dotted line so that you create one solid piece of dough. Now roll out that dough so that you get one big square. Cut the square into four equal pieces and place them on the pan you want to bake with. Repeat this process with the rest of your dough.

Once you're done prepping all the dough it's time to fill. You'll want to place about 1 Tblsp in the middle of each of your squares. Next you'll want to dip two of your fingers in a little bit of water and run them along two touching sides of your dough. This will be the bottom portion of your empanada. Now, grab the dry corner of your dough and fold it over to make a triangle. The water that you just placed on the bottom part of your empanada will help to create a seal so that your yummy filling doesn't ooze out during baking. Make sure you press your edges together really well so that your empanadas don't spring a leak!

Bake at temp listed above for about 10 minutes. It's best to check them every minute or so after that to see if they're done. You'll want to take the empanadas out when they are just starting to brown.

When there's just a few minutes left in the baking process go ahead and grab a dish and melt your butter.

Once out of the oven, brush the tops of each one with the melted butter then sprinkle with your sugar and cinnamon mixture and enjoy! Just be careful... they'll be piping hot!

February 8, 2011

Inside Out

God is always working on us from the inside out. His latest project with me is the word and actions associated with control.

The definition of control is to exercise restraining or directing influence over: to have power over: to reduce incidence or severity of especially to innocuous levels. Some synonyms for control are bridle, check, constrain, contain, curb, govern, hold, inhibit, keep, measure, pull in, regulate, rein (in), restrain, rule, tame.

Wow! That's one loaded paragraph. God has really been dealing with me for a while about my need for control. I've realized that my need for control has come from a life of being out of control. I spent the early part of my life in a home that was out of control and very dysfunctional. I have to say that my mom worked as hard as she possibly could, with the knowledge she had, to make it as "normal" as possible. I think early on I developed this need to try and control the environment around me to keep order & reduce the chaos. When my parents divorced, I decided that as the oldest child, it was my job to fill the role of the other parent and help my mom keep my siblings in order. Let the control fest begin! LOL! I'm so thankful for God's mercy and that my siblings don't hate me anymore for it. Growing up I think they yelled at me on a daily basis "you're not my mom"! HA!

What I've learned in life is that there isn't much I CAN control! God is not a controlling God. He tells us in 2Peter 1: 5-7 that we should have "self-control" not control of the world or people around us. So, does that mean that all this time I've been spinning my wheels trying to make everything fall into place just the way it should? Yep. Hmmmm..... What can I control?
I can control, my thoughts, my actions, and my words.

In my thoughts I have to continue to remind myself (sometimes a gazillion times a day!) that I cannot control they way my life plays out. "For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord". So that means that whatever I assume to be true may only be my own ideals. God makes the plans for my life. When things don't go the way I think they should then it's my job to control my thoughts and remind myself that God knows what He's doing and His ways are better than mine. Even when I think I know better ;-)

In my actions I have to remember that I cannot manipulate situations or try to intervene to force God's hand. I am just a vessel traveling on the path that God has planned for me. If I listen to Him and trust Him then I will be just fine on this journey. It will get hard at times and I'll feel like I can't go on but I have to push myself to continue to press on and press through. I have to make myself keep moving and run my race trusting in God just like Paul did!

My words. Boy, that's a really big one! Words are so much more powerful than anyone may ever know. I was watching a documentary on Maya Angelou last night and she was saying that she really believes that words are things that have actions. You know, if you think about that, there's a lot of truth in it. My words can discourage someone to the point of quitting a lifelong dream or encourage them to conquer the world! That's big time! I want to control my words. I want them to bring life, love, and encouragement to others. I want people to find comfort and joy in what comes out of my mouth. I want to control my words so that I build others up and encourage them to reach for the stars! I want my words to be like Proverbs 16:24 "Gracious words are like honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body."

There's SO much to learn about life. Learning what I can and cannot control can be really difficult at times but there is so much freedom when I let the one who was meant to control my life steer the ship!

February 4, 2011

Breakfast Tacos With a Little "Special Something"!

So we decided to have breakfast for dinner tonight. We decided on breakfast tacos... with a little "special something" that I'll get to in a minute. The tacos were amazing and they were really low in WW points. We used real Flour Tortillas, Egg Beaters, Oscar Meyer Ready Cook Bacon, and 1 Large Baking Potato. We diced the potatoes and then par cooked them and finished cooking them in 2 tsp of olive oil so that they would be nice and crunchy on the outside. Each taco had 2 pieces of bacon, eggs, potatoes and a little "something special".


I betcha wanna know what the something special is huh? Well, If you're an avid Top Chef watcher (which I just might be) or if you love great mexican food (which I do and that's NO secret) then you might be familiar with a chef by the name of Rick Bayless. Rick is a very well known chef who has several restaurants in Chicago all with some kind of Mexican style kitchen. While we were getting groceries at Wal-Mart this evening we came across these in the Mexican food isle with the salsa and stuff.

This stuff is A-MA-ZING-LY delicious! The one on the left is called Ballpark Nacho. It's a cheese sauce with just a little bit of kick and a lot of flavor. You just heat up the bag in the microwave and you're done. So easy! You have hot cheese for tacos, burritos, chips, nachos, or straight into your hungry little mouth! The one on the right is called Black Bean Nacho and it's exactly what it says. Black beans that are mashed with a smoky chipotle flavor that is fantastic. Oh, I almost forgot the best part... The Ballpark Nacho Cheese is NO WW points for 2 Tbsp. and the Black Bean Nacho Sauce is only 1 WW point for 2 Tbsp.!

Next time you're in Wal-Mart, go to the Mexican food isle and pick this stuff up! You won't regret it!

You can also find more products, which I fully intend on ordering, at www.salpica.com


Breakfast of Champions!

I haven't always been a breakfast person. Don't get me wrong.... I can eat ANY time of day. Eating is not the problem. The problem is that by the time I enjoy my one or two cups of coffee I'm full. So, once I started WW I realized how important it was for me to eat breakfast so that I could jumpstart my metabolism first thing in the morning. I have several breakfast favorites but this is my usual "go to" for breakfast right now. It's filling, satisfying and low in points!

Let's start with the bagels. I just love these Thomas Bagel Thins! They are 110 calories (3 WW points) and delicious! They come in plain, everything, and whole wheat. I'm currently addicted to the everything bagels but they are all yummy. Now, on to the cream cheese. I really enjoy good cream cheese. I won't mention brand names but I've tried the fat free cream cheeses and they taste just like...... fat free cream cheese. Not the way to start your morning! However, the WW cream cheese is the same amount of points (2 WW points for 1 Tbsp.) and it tastes like the real thing. It's so yummy and creamy and you wouldn't even know it's fat free :-)

My usual breakfast consists of a bagel with cream cheese, coffee and a Fiber One Key Lime Pie yogurt. All of that only totals 6 WW points! Not too shabby for a morning meal!

February 3, 2011

My Little Sunshine!

Lorelei Nicole Seymour was born on February 3rd, 2009 and that was the day she forever captured my heart! She is such a little bundle of joy and the best niece an Aunt could ask for. Lolly has me wrapped around her sweet petite fingers and she knows it! I have to say, I felt spoiled rotten when my nephew came along but having my niece is just a double blessing! She greets me at the door every day with a hug and a squeal and neither one of us would want to have it any other way. Lolly is the most amazing little miracle and I thank God for her cute face every day! Here are a few pics of Lolly for you to enjoy....because I do! ;-)

HAPPY BIRTHDAY LOLLY!


Lolly with Logan... her partner in crime!


Lolly likes to play with her ears when she's sleepy
I think it's so cute!


Who could resist this sweet girl?


Love bug!


Enjoying her birthday cake tonight


I'm not sure who enjoyed it more... "Bubba" or Lolly!






February 1, 2011

About me...

I realize today that there may be folks following me that don't know me so I thought I would take a minute to introduce myself :-)

My name is Nicole, I'm 32 and I live near Houston, TX. I'm a devoted God follower, sister, daughter, aunt, and friend. I work part time and I'm going to school to become a pediatric ER nurse. I love, love, love kiddos! (Especially my amazingly adorable and oh so precious niece and nephew!) I love to sing. I sing all the time. Literally.... all the time. LOL! Ask anyone, I sing in the shower, the car, my office, walking around the mall, the grocery store, just about anywhere! This is me singing at a friends wedding a few years ago:



I also love to fish. Yes, I bait my own hook (even with live bait), catch my own fish, clean my own fish, and cook my own fish. If you ask my friends they'll tell you it's the "redneck" in me. The first pic below is of me and my Paw-Paw. He's the one who taught me how to fish and how to clean a fish when I was six. By a landslide, he was my favorite person to fish with. Those have to be some of my favorite childhood memories. The second pic is me fishing a few years ago with some friends for my birthday.




I also LOVE baseball. I'm an Astros fan. Go ahead and insert all of your jokes here ______. Don't worry, you can make fun and talk trash but it's my team. They'll get back on track... don't you worry! I love everything about baseball. I love going to the games, listening to them on the radio, watching them on TV (sometimes while napping), and even a little trash talking here and there.



Another thing that I think is interesting about me... I laugh really loud :-) I love to laugh! Laughing has to be one of the best feelings in the world and hands down the best emotion ever! I love to be around people who can make me laugh on good days and bad days. This is typically what you'll see when you catch me laughing really hard:



It's ok... you don't have to feel bad for laughing at this pic. It's funny! My family always laughs at these pics because without fail, every time our family gets together, there is a picture of me doing this "LOL" pose! HA!

One last thing you should know about me..... I have a tendency to show my "other side". I tend to cut up in front of the camera. I'm not sure that much needs to be said about this since there are examples below...

At a wedding reception

In a Boutique in Dallas



Luncheon at work

There you have it! Now if we've never met at least you know a little bit more about me!

Money in the bank!

Who doesn't love more money in the bank?!?! I sure know I do! So, for any of you who follow me on Facebook you'll know that I have this recent fascination with coupons. I watched a show on TLC recently about these people who cut coupons (almost obsessively) and they save boatloads of money on their grocery bills even getting stuff for free. Now, I realize that I may not be able to get all of my groceries for free every week but I WILL make a dent in the grocery budget! So, my best find so far this week was a Kroger. Here's what we bought:


It may not seems like much but you have to think about it. Hunt's brand tomatoes are usually 80-95 cents a can, BarS hot dogs are $1.25/pk, single serve Mac & Cheese (which is gold in a house with two toddlers) is usually 99 cents each and the cheese alone is about $3! I bought all of these groceries for $3.38! That's a steal! I combined the store sale with the coupons and made out like a bandit!! See......



All in all, I've decided this is going to become a habit. I've already made an $11 savings dent in the groceries for the week and we haven't even made the big grocery run yet! Here's what I've learned so far about clipping coupons.

1. You have to clip all the coupons you know you will use AND the ones that you think you might use. You never know when something is going to go on sale. When the product is free or almost free with your coupons you'd be surprised how willing you are to try something new :-)

2. You have to clip coupons for 3-4 weeks straight before you will begin to see the big rewards. It seems that the pattern is that the coupons come out and then the manufacturer waits a few weeks for people to forget about or lose their coupons before they run a great sale. That's what happened with the items in my purchase above.

3. Plan your weekly dinner menu a week in advance and use the circulars to do it. We get our grocery circulars on Tuesday and Wednesday in the mail. We sit down with them and all of our coupons and plan our menu for the following week according to what's on sale and what we've already stocked up on and have at home.

4. Shop a week in advance. This may require a little more money in the grocery budget the first week you start doing this but trust me, it's so worth it!

I realize this sounds like a lot but I really do believe that this is going to save us a lot of money in the long run. My sister and I pride ourselves on being very frugal people but this just took it to a new level for us! LOL!

Truth is..... I'm a SUCKER for a great bargain!

January 31, 2011

Asian Food Quick Fix

I really love asian food but I'm very picky. I have just a few places that I like to eat Asian food at whether it be Chinese or Vietnamese food. As you know, Chinese food is FAR from healthy eating/WW friendly. My favorite dish at a Chinese place is Orange Chicken. I was really craving orange chicken one day so I thought I would look up the point value. Well, unbeknownst to me 1 cup of orange chicken was 14 points! One cup, that's it?!?! I like to eat the whole stinkin' container! Ha! I had no idea how much sugar was in orange chicken.... no wonder I like it so much! So, I set out to find an alternative. The first thing I found was this:



Let me start off by saying I've never been a huge fan of pot stickers OR peas but this meal is just delish!! I add just a little bit of low sodium soy sauce to it and it's amazing! It's a light meal with a semi-sweet sauce that fills me up but doesn't weigh me down. The meal is only 7 points and it's worth every one!

So on Saturday I had some time to kill and I went to the grocery store still on my quest to find orange chicken and I came across this:



JACKPOT!!! I have finally found what I was looking for! This orange chicken isn't Chinese food but I tell you what, in some respects it's better! The chicken is sweet and spicy, the rice is chock full of edamame and almonds, and the sauce is just as sweet and spicy as I like it! The whole meal is only 8 points! Aaaahhhhhh! Can you hear the angels singing in the background? I can :-)

January 29, 2011

COFFEE!

Anyone who knows me knows that I have to have my morning coffee.... otherwise you'll need to approach me at your own risk! Two Christmases ago my parents bought me my first Keurig Coffee Maker. I absolutely love this thing. You can ask my sister how much I love it... a few weeks ago it wouldn't work (because I hadn't cleaned it in a while) and I all but cried because I couldn't have my morning coffee. As sad as this may sound, I actually have a back up coffee pot just in case :-) Another thing that I love about the Keurig is that I can have a different flavor of coffee every day for a week. Since the coffee cups are individually packaged I never have to worry about the coffee going bad. If you're looking for a gift for the coffee lover in your life that keeps on giving, I would highly recommend a Keurig!

The other part to this story is the coffee creamer. I've found that the Coffee Mate Fat Free Creamer (in any flavor) is very WW friendly! You can have 2 Tablespoons for only 1 point. For me that's plenty even in my darkest coffees. So, if you're looking for a coffee creamer that won't eat away all your points here it is!


The day has finally come!

I woke up this morning to the most exciting thing ever! My scale. Every morning while my coffee is brewing I mosey on over to my cute little red scale and see what the magic number is for the day. Today it was 149.0! That's right... 149.0 not 149.6 but 149.0 pounds!!! I have no problem sharing my weight. I can't even begin to tell you the excitement that rushed over me! If I didn't think I would have broken the scale I probably would have jumped for joy while I was on it! LOL! This is such an accomplishment for me. I have been waiting for months to break the 150 mark and today was the day! I love that I've learned to eat everything I want, in moderation and I'm finally getting to where I'm comfortable in my own skin! For the first time in a long time I actually can't wait for summer to get here so that I can wear a swimsuit!

January 27, 2011

These are a few of my favorite things!

So as I've mentioned before.... I love to eat! I'm a notorious snacker, especially for sweets or carbs. I've found a few things that I can eat that feel like junk food but aren't. Here they are:



I'll start with the one on the left. Special K Chocolatey Pretzel 90 Calorie Bars... the perfect mix of sweet and salty! This is a really satisfying chocolate fix for only 2 points!

Next, Quaker Rice Snacks. I haven't had a bad one yet! The point value is usually about 4 points per serving but the serving size varies depending on the flavor you choose. I know 4 points sounds like a lot for a snack but if your in desperate need of a carb fix it's totally worth it!

Last but most certainly not least is the Fiber One Yougurt!


The Key Lime Pie is my personal favorite flavor! It really does taste like Key Lime Pie and it's only 1 point! That's right, 1 point! This is a great dessert if you really want to have dessert after dinner and don't have a lot of points left OR if you like to eat sweets for breakfast ;-) I wouldn't know anything about that... ha ha ha! You can also add a little bit of granola (for an extra point or two) and then it's like Key Lime Pie with the crust, YUMMY!

So, there's a few of my favorite things.... what are yours???

January 25, 2011

Ranch Dressing - The Healthier Way

I can eat ranch dressing on or with everything! I just love it! The only problem is that it's like a bazillion points on WW so I had to come up with an alternative. Here it is:




All you have to do is mix one container of Non-Fat Greek Yogurt (any brand will work), one packet of Ranch Dressing Mix and 1/2 cup of skim or 1% milk. You can add more or less milk depending on how thick you like your Ranch Dressing. With this recipe you can have 4 Tbsp for only 1 point! Compare that to the regular Ranch Dressing that has a little valley on the bottle: 4 Tbsp of their dressing is 8 points! How cool is that!

If you change the amount of milk you use or if you decide to you anything other than non fat greek yogurt it will change the point value so you'll need to recalculate :-) Now go forth and take your new knowledge of ranch and put it on everything!!!

Weight Watchers - My New Friend!

Food... I LOVE FOOD! I love to eat it, shop for it, cook it and smell it while it's cooking away! I love everything about food except... when it makes me fat (or feel that way anyways)! I really wanted to change my eating habits and learn to enjoy food in a "healthier" way. So, I decided that I was going to give Weight Watchers (WW) a try. I absolutely love it!

This has been one of the hardest yet most satisfying journeys that I've been on! I've had to retrain myself in the way that I view food and that has probably been the hardest part for me. I tend to look to food for comfort which we all know never ends up well... LOL!

Since I started WW about four months ago I've lost 23 pounds. That is a lot of extra lovin' I've been packing around! I have to say that I feel amazing inside and out. I'm getting back to a place in my life where I'm happy with my body. I'm not looking for a number on the scale or a number on the tag in my jeans to satisfy me I just want to "feel" good. It feels like it's been such a tiring and long process but the reality is, I've changed my lifestyle not just lost weight. I've learned to look at food differently. When picking what I'm going to eat I really weigh all my options now and make sure I'm not over indulging in the junk food like I used to. I've learned to substitute healthier options for the not so healthy stuff.

So, all of that to say, for all of my friends out there who are doing WW or even their own "diet" plan, I'm going to try to start posting one meal/tip a day that I've learned along the way that has really helped me to be successful! Hope fully this can help you or someone you know too!

Happy pound dropping!

New Year... New Blog!

It's a new year and time for a new blog! I've definitely dropped the ball on the whole blogging thing over the last year. With so many new things happening, my goal is to keep track of it/ share it all here :-) Many new posts to come!

P.S. Special thanks to my friend Bobbie at www.clumsycrafter.com for helping me get my blog up and running again! You should really check out her blog! It's great fun and it'll keep you laughing!