Saturday, September 13, 2014

it's been too long

I have thought about blogging a lot lately. I have been in a funk for no apparent reason. But today is a new day, one we are lucky to live, so today I am blogging.

1 month and 15 days ago we left Utah, where we had lived together for 3 years and separately for almost 9! Although Utah never felt like home to Ian or myself it was the place where we created our life together and where we had raised the girls together. At the end of June, I was offered a position within my company to transition into the Sales Organization which would relocate us to Washington. I was so unbelievably happy! Ian was so thrilled he was ready to leave the next day, as was Kylie, Emma was pretty unhappy with me. She was in Arizona at the time with her Dad and as we would have all been at age 10- she was upset that she was going to leave her friends without so much as a goodbye. I empathized with her, my parents moved me from PA to AZ on my 10th bday but in the end it was for the best. Life is a series of choices (I tell my children this daily) and leaving Utah was a choice we were making.

The trip to our new home was one of the most eventful things that has ever happened to me. I was not prepared when I left my home in Utah for what I was going to experience. On the evening on day 1 we were 10 miles outside of Boise when the sign on the freeway said, "Brush fire, low visibility". To me that meant there would be a little debris in the air, some smoke. I - WAS- WRONG! We drove on and at first in the distance you could see flames but they were at least a mile away, as we moved closer you could see flames that looked like they were on the other side of a hill, well it turns out that "hill" was a wind in the road and before there was anything I could do about it, there were flames on both sides of the road and we were driving through it. I turned to see Kylie screaming, "I'm going to die". As a mother you NEVER want to be responsible for making your child feel unsafe, I calmly told her to close her eyes and sing as loud as she could. Thankfully, for one of the only times in her entire life - she did exactly what I asked her to. I could feel the heat from the flames through the car, I kept telling myself you have to keep going the car is fueled by gas if you stop it is game over. Two seconds later I hit a wall of smoke that I couldn't see through. I wanted to stop but I was following Ian and his Dad was following me, I knew if I stopped I would cause an accident. I threw on the hazard lights and kept going. Maybe 100 more feet and we broke the smoke barrier. We had to exit at the next chance because at that moment the freeway was shut down, both directions. We were the last cars that went through. When we pulled off everyone jumped out of their cars and ran to us where I must have been in some kind of shock because the only thing I could mutter when Ian said how proud of me he was (I had pretty severe driving anxiety before), was to say, "I just kept going". The 10 miles it should have taken turned into 2 hours as we detoured through an active military firing range (closed for the night). Needless to say Boise and I are not as tight as we once were. But the best part of what happened was that we were all safe, closer as a family and my driving anxiety is gone, totally gone.

Now we are in our beautiful new house which is 2 times bigger than our Utah house and we love it! The kids are thriving, Ian has a new job and is figuring out school and it is time for me to refocus on myself a little bit. Today, I started a new Whole30, I'm getting back into fitness and I'm determined to create some new - no work related - friendships. Live is a journey, and today I am starting down a new road.

I am also excited to announce that we picked a wedding day! We will begin our married life together, August 22, 2015! www.weddingwire.com/ianda

That is all for now - A

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Ireland

I have owed you all this post for about a month so forgive me!

We left for Ireland on May 23rd and I was in no way prepared for the way the next 14 days would change my life.

The flight was about 10 hours long but we flew overnight and I was able to sleep well enough that when we landed in Dublin I was ready to go! We picked up our rental car which was quite the adventure in itself (driving on the other side of the car and the other side of the road proved to be challenging!) We headed off to our first B & B to change and clean up and then we hit the town. We went 110% every single day we were there. We ate soo much food, drank a lot of amazing beer and whiskey and soaked in as much culture and beauty as humanly possible, which was a lot because the sun rises at 4:30 AM and goes down at 11 PM!

We drove around the entire southern half of the country staying in a new county almost every night. Ireland is so unique and every little nook and crannie has something to offer from castles to caves, pubs to live music, shopping and coffee and tea shops to beautiful hikes and trails. We started and ended our stay in Dublin but my favorite part of the entire trip was the west coast. There were ocean views like nothing I can even begin to explain.

One afternoon on the side of a cliff, near the Cliffs of Moher Ian asked me to marry him and I was blown away! We have always talked about our future together but I had no idea he had been planning to propose on our trip. We will always have a special place in our hearts for this amazing country :)

We ended our trip with a quick flight to the Isle of Man so that Ian could see one of his favorite races the TT. It was a cold day but his face lit up and made the rain and cold worth every moment.

Now I know you all want nothing more then to see some long overdue pictures so here are my top 101 faves!

Let me know which one is your favorite!

Irish Magic Awaits You!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

the journey of my whole30

Whole30 - have you heard this term lately? I would say it is the latest rage in the food world, but to me that implies that it will fade away just as fast as it came to be popular and that would be a travesty.

I would encourage anyone that has any interest in Whole30 to check out their website at Whole30.com because the best information always comes from the source. Whole30 is essentially a new way to embrace the food that you eat. For 30 days you are challenged to not consume: Sugar, dairy, grains, legumes, soy, alcohol and other specifics. The idea is to reboot your system.


About a month and a half ago we went on a trip to Boise. Before that trip I was doing Pilates religiously - daily for at least 45 minutes [have you checked out blogilates? it is Pilates on a YouTube channel, if you can read this post you can watch her videos which means she is just a click away :)]. I was still going to the gym a few days a week too, I could feel myself getting stronger but I was still the same weight I had been for the last few years. I felt like I was eating pretty healthy, always- whole grain, low fat dairy, lean protein, fruits, veggies, nuts, beans etc. But I almost always had a tummy ache after eating or at least once a day and after our trip to Boise I was feeling like total crap. Don't get me wrong everything was so yummy and I had a great time but I felt gross.


I knew it was time for a change. I knew that I had a messed up relationship with food (see a few posts back for control issues). I knew I was unhappy with how I felt about myself and how I looked.


Almost everyone I know says something to me along the lines of - "Amanda you're so little". But really I'm not (or wasn't). I am short. That is true. But at a whopping 4' 10.5" I shouldn't weigh 121 lbs. For God sake I was 135lbs when I DELIVERED my youngest. That 121lbs was with "eating well" and exercising.


I began scouring my Insta feed, I have been following @eatingwhole for a long time and love her approach to food. If you don't follow her, you should. Lauren believes in all things in moderation. She doesn't eat refined or added sugar of any kind, but otherwise she believes in balance and she is amazing. However, I followed a lot of what she did and I still wasn't feeling great. Everyone has their own perfect and I was still looking for mine. One of the ladies that posted comments on Lauren's feed was @cleaneatscleantreats. So one day I clicked on her name and low and behold her feed was full of amazing looking things too! On one of her recent posts I noticed the hashtag #whole30 and then #jennawhole30, so of course I clicked both. From Shannon's feed I had entered what seemed like a new food world. All of these amazing plates of food, full of nutrients, full of color, full of...Whole30.


At this point I had to know more because I kept seeing the term, "compliant", which honestly freaked me out at first. I fear rules with food, because I tend to feel restricted or setup to fail. I went to Whole30.com and read every web page- all of them. That night I went home and talked to Ian. I answered as many questions as I could for him and then showed him the site. After very little debate he was game. We decided to start the day after Easter.


We went to the store and stocked up on the pantry items and the approved fruits, veggies, proteins and oils. I threw everything and I mean everything out that didn't comply. If we were going to do it I had to remove all temptation from myself and the family.


Here is where I will tell you that I made my first mistake. Most of the people on Whole30 will tell you that you should read, "It Starts With Food", by the Harwigs (the founders of Whole30). I am going to tell you that you should not even start this journey until you have read every word. I did not do this. I read the book half way through. HUGE mistake. I didn't have a good understanding of what I had started and the information that they will give you will leave you feeling empowered and informed. Really - do it. You can get the digital copy for $10.00 - if you are willing to take this huge step to a better place with food, start with the book.


That being said, I took what I then knew, without the book, and jumped head first into this journey. Day 1, 2, 3 were rough. I mean rough. The cravings for things I couldn't have were nearly unbearable. My attitude sucked. I slept like crap. I couldn't concentrate. I was going through withdrawals, I know this because I have gone through them before. Only this time, the drug was food, bad food.


Day 4 was a revelation. I had a little more energy, I didn't hate eggs in the morning (you eat so many eggs), I was happy, I felt positive and oddly enough my stomach was flat - totally flat - on day 4.


I didn't keep a daily journal and thinking back that is something I will do next time. I can't really remember days 5-30 specifically but after the first week all of the cooking became second nature. The weekly grocery run was fun. My littles were eating everything we were and trying new things. Our friends were ridiculously supportive, finding compliant brunch places, making sure we could eat at the BBQs, trying what we were having for dinner. Everything just kind of fell into place. It didn't seem like we were doing anything challenging. We had just changed our lives.


On day 3 I went for a walk. Yep, a walk. I was exhausted. I went to the gym a handful of times over the month and I went for walks and runs with friends. I decreased my exercise by 80% and I dropped a pant size, and 6 pounds. I haven't dropped 6 lbs in 6 years! Ian dropped 20lbs in 30 days and he went to the gym 1.


I remember staring in the mirror around day 15 thinking, "what the hell was I eating before?!". I had thought it was healthy. I had thought I was feeding my family the right things. I had thought... a lot of things. But guess what? I was wrong.


Whole30 has changed my life. I know that sounds cliché. But I am not kidding, I don't feel like food controls my day. I don't feel like food controls anything about my life. It is liberating. I feel - free. And it feels GREAT!


I am not going to sit here and tell you it is easy and that you wont feel temptation, because that would be lie. It is hard - but it is possible.


After the 30 days you can keep going (many people do Whole60 or Whole90) or your can broach reintroduction. Reintroduction is basically when you try to bring things back into your diet that you had cut out, in moderation, using what you have learned from the book and your experience.


This is a life shift for us. We will do future Whole30 journeys and for the most part we will eat this way forever. I will not tell you that I wont ever eat a macaron or have a sandwich or have rice because I love those things and I have learned that I can have them and that I can also NOT have them and survive and even flourish.


Whole30 is about changing your relationship with food (and prep, it is also very much about food prep). We will be starting another Whole30 in August. I encourage all of you to purchase the book, read it, go to the Whole30 site and give this a try if you think it is something you want to do. Use the comments and reach out to me if you need support, Whole30 has a community like nothing I have every seen. You will feel inspired and that means you can do anything you set your mind to.


I wanted to share a few of our meals from this month. If you would like the recipes please use the comments below I am more then happy to share!

Fajita veggies for burrito bowls

Mango Salsa


Turkey Chili w/ Sweet Potato and Avocado





And a little piece of inspiration, because you can do anything you want to do.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

they have feet!

As most of you know I could spend a good 2 hours every day looking through my Instagram feed (if we are not following each other find me on Insta @remembereverythingyoucan). One of my favorite bloggers/creators/moms is Holly. Holly is hands down of the most amazing bakers I follow. She loves macarons. No, not the coconut ones - the French ones. (more to come on that) Holly makes macarons for fun and to sell at her local farmers markets and for special occasions. Simply put her pictures of macarons inspired me, and what do I do when I feel inspired? I rally friends to experiment with! I would say that I have created a healthy obsession with the French macaron. They are simple, they are beautiful and they are fun!




Three weeks ago I met up with a good friend (Ms. Erin- pics below) and we set out to spend a Friday evening of trial and error to make at least 1 successful macaroon. That was the goal, 1. Turns out when you mix awesome margaritas, bumpin' 90's toons and the two of us together - seriously epic things happen!




Erin and I scoured the web for Macaron recipes and we still decided that Holly's was the best to go by. We set to work - let me start this part by saying this is a SCIENCE! There is no 'kinda' in this process. You have to follow the recipe precisely, these beauties are finicky. Also, don't save this for a rainy day- humidity=sad macarons and don't rush yourself. This took Erin and I from 5 PM to 12 AM - so prepare yourself for that.




Recipe: adapted from Holly - ABM
275 grams finely ground almonds
360 grams icing sugar (powdered sugar)
1 cup egg whites (from about 7 eggs) aged at room temperature for 6 hours
3/4 cup granulated sugar
pinch salt


We wanted to try two colors so we split this recipe in half and made blue and green macarons. (Bust our the metric conversion chart - we had to too :)  )


Step 1:
We let our egg whites sit out 3 hours for the first batch (blue) and almost 5 hours for the second batch (green). Our suggestion is at least 6 hours and up to overnight. By the second batch we could see a serious difference.




Step 2:
Take the ground almonds place them in a food processor, you want these to be very very fine. We pulsed ours probably 5 or 6 times. Then place in a bowl and sift in the powdered sugar, whisk these two ingredients together until thoroughly combined. Set aside.




Step 3:
We used a KitchenAid mixer and strongly recommend it! So remember that when we speak to the speed of mixing. You may need to adjust you mixing times or speeds to meet your mixer.


Add the egg whites, granulated sugar and salt to the mixing bowl and attach the whisk attachment. Turn the mixer up to a 4 and whip for 2 minutes (use a timer) If you want to add food coloring do it now. Only use GEL food coloring, the liquid version will mess with the science.


Increase the speed to 6 and whip for 2 minutes.


Increase the speed to 8 and whip for the final 2 minutes.


You should have VERY stiff peaks -I'm talking like the best hair mousse you have ever seen stiff.




Step 4:
This is no joke the hardest part. Your arm will literally burn from the workout you are about to get. If you think that you will need to stop at any point go get your husband, wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, teenager, neighbor or friend and have then keep going when you get tired because this need to happen quickly and consistently.


Grab a silicone spatula and poor about half of the ground almond/sugar mixture into the egg whites. Start by folding the two into each other. You will notice that you can see the texture of the dry ingredients - you need to use the back of the spatula an press/spread it against the side of the bowl while you are turning the bowl. (I know it sounds crazy, we watch MANY a YouTube video to figure out this skill) You need to do this until you feel the mixture is well incorporated and with out taking all the air our of the egg whites. Once that batch it combined you need to add the remainder of almond/sugar mixture together and do it all over again. ;)


It took us about 3-5 minutes each time to get this ready for the piping bag.


Our favorite instructional YouTube for "Macaronnage" is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3rMIJmG14CM




Step 5:
Fill a piping bag fitted with a #12 tip with the batter.




Step 6:
We placed a silicon mat on a baking sheet and found this yielded the best macarons. In a pinch you can use wax paper. We liked the mat because the bottom of the macaron held up very well when we removed them. You need the "shell" to remain intact so that the filling doesn't ooze through.


Pipe circles onto the mat or wax paper leaving at least an inch between each one. When they are all piped, hit the tray against the counter a few times this will get all of the air bubbles out. Let sit on the counter for AT LEAST 15 minutes. If you have the time let them go even longer. This is allowing the "shells" to harden which helps to prevent cracking when baking.




Step 7:
Place the shells in a 300 degree (F) oven for 13 minutes. The timing is hard here. If you know your oven runs high on the temperature side or cooks things more quickly then recipes state adjust this as you see fit.


At the 6 minute mark open the over for 3 seconds and then close it. This lets moisture out.




Step 8:
Remove from the over after 13 minutes and slide the silicon pad or wax paper off of the sheet. You must let the "shells" cool completely before you attempt to remove them or they will break.




Step 9:
Complete until all macarons are baked.




Step 10:
Fill the "shells" with any filling you want. We went way simple on this round because we wanted to focus all of our energy on the cookie itself. We used jam, peanut butter, nutella and honey.




This was one of the most fun things I have ever done! Erin made it such an awesome time! #oneawesomeperson






Piped and set


 
They have feet! (Feet are the sign of success in macaron world - those beautiful edges on the side are the feet)