Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Wellness Wednesday - Be Prepared

This past week my work participated in the Great Utah Shakeout and though we joked, laughed, and snapped photos throughout the process it was a good reminder that we do live in an earthquake zone and really should be mindful about personal preparedness.

Pansa on the left cracks me up. She can fit under the desk so easily. Amy on the right is the one who has dubbed me "EverReady" and I'm ok with it. :)

It's kind of funny because one of my co-workers has decided my nickname is "EverReady". Kind of like the battery and people who are really ready for most every scenario. I do tend to think worst case scenario about most everything in my life which can be very gloom and doom but it can also be really helpful when there is an emergency or something doesn't go quite as planned.

Of course I wouldn't be flashing peace signs in a real emergency but at least we got under the desks. #stayinalive

I like to think that it's not all gloom and doom but more learning from my mistakes and becoming more and more prepared for all that life throws at me. Becoming a Mom definitely supported my sense of preparedness because now I really feel I need to bring all sorts of things along with me "just in case". Moms, you know what I'm saying. When your diaper bag weighs more than the weights at the gym, you know you're prepared for anything. HA HA HA!

Hold on tight! P.S. I have already thought about the ways I can escape from our 3rd floor offices.

I try to walk the line between being over prepared and being reasonably prepared for most typical emergencies. Here are some things I've done for myself and that we've done around the house to make sure we'd be prepared for most scenarios:
  1. We have escape ladders on both the second and third floors. Granted our ladders are all only meant for two story escapes but I figured my chances of living if I could climb down to the first floor and jump are better than having no escape. Or if I could at least make it to the second floor I'd be good to go. 
  2. We have a fire extinguisher in our kitchen. Yeah, you never think you'll need it but it really only takes moments for something to go from burning just a little to being completely on fire. From there if you make one mistake or something flammable touches the fire and suddenly you're in serious trouble. I have to hope we never need it but it's nice to have.
  3. We have first aid kits in multiple locations. We've got assorted band-aids upstairs, a couple first aid kits on the second floor, I have a couple first aid kits in the car, we have one in Joe's truck... We're never far from basic medical supplies, just in case.
  4. I keep an assortment of warm clothes and blankets in my trunk as well as a 72 hour kit. You never know when you might get stranded in a winter snow storm and if I ever had little Russell with me I'd want to make sure he could stay warm and toasty and would have food to eat. Maybe I never need this stuff but at least it's there.
  5. I have an E-Tool in my trunk. I don't know that I would have known what one of these was but Joe was in the military and told me it was a good multipurpose tool to keep in my car. I can use it to dig holes, chop stuff, hammer things, and oh so much more. Why? Because honestly you never know when you need something like this and it folds up so it takes up hardly any space anyway.
Now, these few things don't equate to a full scale emergency preparedness plan. The things I want to get to in the next few months/years include:
  1. 72 hour kits in the house for each of us. I'm going to have to figure out what Russell friendly foods are available. 
  2. Have one emergency box with things like family photos, emergency information, medical information, irreplaceable personal items, etc. all in one spot so if we ever had to evacuate our home we could know that we were at least taking the most valuable things with us. This might not be as much of a worry if we were in our own home but I live in a town home and there are neighbors on two sides of us. You want to think everyone is as careful and smart about things as you but I'm sure most of us have seen those news reports where one person leaves the stove on and the whole building burns up in a matter of minutes. If we had to leave in a hurry I want to know that we could get the family out, the cats out, and one or two boxes of essentials and be on our way.
  3. A finalized emergency plan for our family to be safe if something like a big earthquake were to hit or something else caused all typical forms of communication to go down. I'd want to know that we were all heading for the same place so we wouldn't have to worry about going to find each other regardless of where we were each coming from. 
  4. A couple weeks/months worth of food and water. Yeah, you could think this is totally crazy but I think this is smart even if you're not thinking disaster preparedness. If I lost my job and we had a few weeks or months worth of food then I might be able to get by and pay the rent without worrying we'd starve until someone found a new job. Plus there are always times when some unexpected repair (you need to replace a tire or two) or expense (registering two cars with the DMV in the same month) comes up and if you know you have food in the house it will be a whole lot less stressful waiting for your next paycheck. 
  5. Have flashlights with batteries and/or emergency candles for the house. Sometimes a power outage is an inconvenience but then there are times when it's serious. If we had a major winter storm and couldn't leave I'd want to know we could fumble around our house and keep warm. You would be shocked just how much heat a few good emergency candles can put off if you were indeed in an emergency. With the right things I know I could keep my family safe and warm.
So, all this being said, what is your preparedness plan? Do you lean more towards the "I'll get to it someday" camp or are you more on the side of a "doomsday" prepper? I like to think of myself somewhere in the middle where I work to have things I might actually need and use without going too crazy and digging out a bomb shelter in the basement. (Not saying that's a terrible idea if you have the time/money/interest in that sort of thing.)

Tell me, what is part of your families preparedness plan? Do you have certain things you keep ready for your kids and pets? How long would you and your family survive if you could only live off the things in your home? What about in your car if you were stranded away from home?

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Saturday's Supper - Sunday Brunch

It's another review day. We haven't done a lot of out of the box cooking lately so I wanted to share another review of The Egg & I that just opened here in South Jordan. Joe and I have eaten at one in Vegas before and I know they have a couple other locations in Utah but we are always on the search for breakfast on our end of town. We have found quite a few amazing places in the downtown and sugarhouse area but for us to pack up Russell and make the trek takes serious commitment which sometimes I just don't feel like doing on the weekend.

So far we are loving The Egg & I because the food is good, portions are reasonable, and it's not expensive. Plus we can eat in or get it to go and the food has been good either way. For me, I love that they have a list of Eggs Benedict options I can choose from and if you check out my review you'll learn about two that I've had and loved.

Yep, breakfast is amazing! Especially when you don't have to cook. If you're out in my part of the world stop on by and give them a try. I recommend getting there before 8-8:30 or you'll get stuck in the tiny entry space waiting for a table. People also have to pay up front so it gets a little chaotic. Get there earlier than that and you'll walk right in and be seated. Anyone with kids knows this is important!

If anyone else knows of good breakfast places around South Jordan let me know. I'm always on the hunt for something new to try and if you try The Egg & I stop back here and let me know what you had and if you liked it.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Saturday's Supper - Savory & Sweet Review

Oh you guys. Every now and again you find a place that is such a little gem that you wish it were closer so you could eat there more often. Then again you know you'd also go broke if the place was closer so as you leave you plan your next visit. Joe and I have found such a place in Utah County. Yep, our voyage past the point of the mountain took us to Savory & Sweet. It's a darling little place in Orem that is family owned and has delightful food.

If you want to know more be sure to check out my Yelp review. Support a local business folks! If not, we'll all have to suffer in a world of only chain restaurants and no one should want that. For right now, check out these delightful pictures from our adventure.

Cutest Joe and cutest tea set.
Russell watching his Little Einstein's while we waited for our food. Don't judge. It keeps him quiet and happy. :P
Mixed Berries & Chocolate Whipped Cream - Joe took a bite before taking the picture.
Thai Curry Crepe - P.S. it's not spicy. If you want spicy, I would specify that.
Single Waffle with Strawberries - Russ couldn't wait for me to take the picture.

Do you have any favorite places that you might not have tried if someone didn't recommend them? Are there any local gems in your neighborhood that you just can't get enough of? What is your families favorite place to go out to eat?

Friday, April 11, 2014

Family Friday - Making Waves

This past weekend my husband and I went out to celebrate our anniversary. We did have fun while his parents were in town but we take turns each year planning something special for each other and this year it was my turn. I decided we would go to a restaurant I tried with friends, Red Rock, because I thought Joe would enjoy the food and he does like a good beer.

I had fish and Joe had steak. We also had to sample some of their desserts. The crème brûlée was delish and we really liked their peach cobbler. YUM! I'd totally go back and just enjoy some desert.

As part of my planning I decided we would try something new. We went to The Paint Mixer and tried our hand at painting some waves. Now, you may have seen my first attempt at painting with Starry Night and that actually seemed somewhat easy. This one was a little harder but still a great time.

Joe has always been somewhat artistic so I thought this would be a fun activity we could enjoy together. Before we even started he was already pointing out other pictures he thought would be fun to try. It was so fun to see our paintings take shape as the class went along. I especially love the comet that Joe put in his painting.

In the end I love how my moon turned out and I love Joe's wave. I think my wave kind of looks like a sharks fin but I still think it's cool. We already have plans to hang these up in our house and can't wait to paint more fun art for our home.

If you haven't tried something like this you should. Seriously I am not an artistic type. I am crafty, yes, artistic, no. They make it super easy and everyone's painting looks different which is great. My friends and I are going on Friday, May 9th to celebrate a friends birthday by painting Jellyfish. If you want to join us use this link so you can be sure to be sat with us when you arrive. Mature kids are welcome too if you want to bring the family. They do have specific classes for families as well as kid only classes too. It's a great date night too and they do sell snacks and drinks (both alcoholic and non) if you want.

Have you ever done anything that revealed a hidden talent or a new hobby? Have you ever taken a painting class like this anywhere in Utah? I'm looking for other ways to learn more about painting though I do like that these classes don't require you to own any supplies.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Wellness Wednesday - Need Fresh Air!!!

Is anyone else out there ready for spring? I typically like winter because I run hot and enjoy not being a sweaty hot mess all the time but this year I am cheering on spring. The few days we've had where the weather was nice enough to bust out the shorts and t-shirts have left me longing for more of those days. Honestly I would LOVE a nice long spring, a short summer, long fall, and short winter. Where can I find this type of weather that won't cost me an arm and a leg? If you find a place like that let me know because I might have to retire there. HA HA HA!!!

Today's wellness tip is inspired by our son Russell. GET OUTSIDE! Russell LOVES to be outside no matter what the conditions. Even if the weather doesn't look the best or it's a little chilly/windy, I highly recommend bundling up and getting outside. Get some fresh air. Breathe deep. Listen to the sounds around you. Breathe deeply again. Take time to smell the roses, or the other pretty flowers, though watch for bees. :) Enjoy feeling the sun on your face and the wind in your hair.

I don't know what it is but there is something so special to me about being outside and reconnecting with nature. Maybe it's the energy of the earth and reconnecting with all the sounds that remind me of simpler times. Maybe it's just getting out of places where the air is recirculated and stale and instead breathing fresh clean air. Maybe it's just reconnecting with that state of awe when you see there are just so many amazing things out there that most of the time we're driving by so fast we miss them.

I'm not judging anyone's lifestyle if you would much rather be inside watching TV or playing on the computer. That's fine. For me, I want to enjoy more time outside. I want to help my son appreciate the beauty in nature and why he needs to be smart about his personal consumption so we don't destroy the earth. I'm excited for warmer weather so we can bring Russell to the park to play so we can have fun and be disconnected for a while. Yeah, I do whip out my phone to take pictures but that's it. I enjoy the time not worrying about emails or Facebook or what's happening online. Ah...

If you haven't been outside lately I highly recommend you plan a day to go out and just be. Drive around, find a nice park, and enjoy! You'll thank me later. Make a promise to yourself that while you're outside you won't connect to technology. You can take pictures, read a book, get creative and sketch/draw/paint what you see, you can play with the kids, play fetch with the dog, or just simply be. While you're outside make an effort to look around and notice all the beautiful things around you. There are so many things and if you start to focus on things of beauty in your world you will attract more of those things into your life.

What's your favorite way to disconnect and feel grounded? Do you have any favorite places to be outside in nature? Do you have other ways you get centered and enjoy some time just for you?

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Slim & Sassy Sunday - The Real Truth

Hello Slim & Sassy followers. I haven't updated about where I am on my weight loss journey for a while because I haven't had anything to update. Honestly it seems like no matter what I eat I remain about the same weight. Perhaps this is my body's way of telling me it's happy at this weight and changing it up or down is going to take a serious effort on my part.

I guess I should consider myself lucky that I haven't gained any more weight but it is a little annoying to see that it would take some serious work on my part if I ever want to get to the weight I think I should be at. Now, don't get me wrong, I get it. Weight loss, for most people, isn't easy. If I had a nanny and a house keeper and all I did was go to work and work out then maybe I too would have shed the baby weight super fast. Since that's not my reality it really does take a higher level of dedication than I've been willing to spend to lose weight.

I honestly think my problem is conflicting priorities. I have other projects I'm working on and things that are date driven that end up taking prescience most days. It's easy to put off going for a walk after work when you have to make dinner for tonight and work on a project that's due in a matter of days/weeks/months.

Really you could look at all this as excuses but to me real change happens when you decide to make something a priority. Right now, losing weight apparently isn't as high a priority as I was hoping to make it. Overall though I am not sad about that. I am going to still squeeze in exercise when I can and try to eat better. I am also always on the lookout for fun ways to work out like trying a Zumba class or going to yoga with friends. For me, I'm at the point in my life where working out should be fun, not a chore. I don't have hours to dedicate to the gym each week because if I did I guarantee I would be down to my pre-baby weight with no problem. I actually LOVE going to the gym and working out but in my world spending what little time I have at home with Russell is more important than six-pack abs.

Please don't feel like I'm judging people who do work out to the point they can have six-pack abs. Some people's genetics let them lose weight and build muscle easily and for some people working out is how they find balance and health in their life. Seriously if our days had 48 hours in them or if I didn't need to sleep I would totally work out more. Alas, my current reality has me choosing to spend my hours in different ways and that's ok. I think it's good to be honest with ourselves and not try and kill ourselves over an image ideal. Be happy with where you're at and if you can't be happy with that then figure out how to make change a priority.

Slim & Sassy Sunday may change scope a little in the coming weeks so stay tuned to see what happens.

Do you feel there is something you're missing in your life to find balance and peace? Are there topics you've always wanted to learn more about but just haven't had the time to explore them? Is there something new you'd like to see on the blog within the realm of health and wellness, cooking, or crafts?

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Saturday's Supper - Easy Breakfast Casserole

Sometimes cooking can be a drag. I get it. You don't always want to spend the time slaving over a hot stove to make the same old thing again. Well, I have decided I am the queen of the fridge clean out. I can turn all the random pieces of stuff in our fridge into something tasty and totally different. On Sunday we usually make breakfast at home and after browsing Pinterest for some inspiration I decided I was making a breakfast casserole.

The original recipes I looked at were paleo and I was looking for something gluten free because I've been eating a lot of cookies and bread lately. The result, based on what we had hanging around, was this delightful and easy dish.

Easy Breakfast Casserole

by Heather MacDonald

1 large sweet potato - peeled and shredded
2 brats - diced
1/4 c bacon - pre-cooked
1 green bell pepper - diced
2 Tbsp green onion - minced
8 eggs - scrambled
1 c shredded cheese

Prep all your ingredients by slicing and dicing them all into bite sized pieces. I greased up a 9x13 pan and layered my shredded sweet potatoes along the bottoms and up the sides a little. I sprayed some oil on top of the potatoes and tossed them in the oven heated to 375 for about 10-12 minutes.

While the potatoes are cooking I heated up the diced brats and bacon to let them get a little crispy. I also added a few dashes of smoked paprika and chipotle chili powder. I removed them from the pan and then tossed in my green pepper. I let that cook up until they were crisp tender with a little garlic salt, onion powder, and black pepper.

When the potatoes are partially cooked and starting to brown on the edges I layered in the meat and green pepper. I poured my scrambled eggs over the top then layered on the cheese and green onions. Everything went back into the oven for about 20 minutes until the cheese was melted and a knife inserted in the middle came out clean. (You could make this in an 8x8 or 9x9 pan for a thicker casserole but I would imagine you'd have to cook it a lot longer. I didn't want to wait that long because I was hungry.)

I served mine with some sliced avocado and hot sauce but you could also serve it with some pico de gallo, sour cream, or other favorite breakfast condiment. I loved this recipe because you can use whatever you have on hand. I would totally throw in any type of cooked meat you have or leave out the meat and go nuts with veggies. Mushrooms, peppers, onions, zucchini, or anything else you have hanging around would be good. (I would precook your veggies a bit so you don't end up with a watery casserole.) Pretty much if you've seen it in an omelet or a breakfast scramble you could toss it in here. You could also use frozen hash browns or shred a regular potato. It's up to you. The measurements aren't exact as I just don't cook that way. This should give you a reasonable idea of what I put in though.

If you try this be sure to come back and let me know if you liked it. I personally enjoyed the sweet and savory flavors together and had two whole pieces this morning. YUM!

Do you cook from a recipe or do you prefer to make up your own recipes? I'm always looking for new breakfast ideas so feel free to share links to any of your favorites.