8.26.2011

Fit Friday...A lifestyle change



As I have mentioned several times before, I tend to be an all or nothing type person. I feel like that is one reason I have such a hard time eating healthy. I either go crazy and have ONLY natural, organic, lean foods or I go to the opposite end of the spectrum and eat a bunch of processed, sugary crap :) It is so hard for me to find a healthy balance so I thought I would share today some things I am trying to do to not only eat healthy to lose weight, but changes I have made that I am going to try and stick with as I work on mainting as well. And again, its not just about weight! It's about teaching our kids what real food tastes like, that it can be delicious even if it doesn't come in a package....and yes, that occasionally those yummy treats are just fine too!


* For myself and my kids, I had to make a concious realization about the difference between snacks and treats. Treats are fine in moderation, but at our house treats had become snacks. Kids have snacks several times a day, and I was not liking the road we were going down. Now when I tell my kids (and myself) its snack time they know that means something like apple slices with all natural peanut butter, hummus with homemade baked pita chips, mandarin oranges and cottage cheese, or greek yogurt with some homemade granola on top. When I say its time for a treat, they know it may be a cookie, fruit snacks, a scoop of ice cream or something like that.


* This next one is a really popular option these days and I LOVE the way it has changed how my family eats. Many of you have probably heard of Bountiful Baskets or other kinds of produce co-ops....these are fantastic!! I do a neighborhood co-op and every other week we pay our alloted amount, and then get to go pick up a huge box full of fresh fruits and vegetables. I cannot tell you how much more produce we have been eating since we started doing this. If I have paid for something...I am going to do my darndest to use it! :) It has also made me so much more creative in how I use vegetables and has given my kids opportunities to try new things I would not have bought at the store otherwise. Just as an example, I got my co-op yesterday and it had bananas, pears, mushrooms, cantaloupe, tomatoes, pineapple, lettuce and carrots. I always let my kids pick one thing out of the box to eat on the way home. How great to see them so excited about fruit and vegetables!


* Eating healthy is expensive...lets be honest! It has always been difficult for me to spend so much money on food. But as we have discussed what we want for our family and whats important to us we have had to change the way we think. I now view our grocery budget as an investment of the greatest kind. It's an investment in my families health...and one that I believe will pay off in the long run. Of course, its different for every person and every budget, but we have chosen to take money out of our entertaiment fund and add it to our groceries.


* Let yourself have a good old-fashioned SUPER unhealthy treat once in a while! Just 2 days ago we had prepackaged frozen rolls, fried in oil, and then coated in powdered sugar for breakfast :) Healthy....NO. Fun to celebrate a little girls bday...YES!! I am aiming for moderation, and with that comes some great treats. The upside to this is that it makes those foods fun and exciting, where if you have them all the time...not so much. We went to Park City a few weeks back and if you ask my daughter her favorite part of the trip she will tell you "I got to pick out my own sugary cereal!!" A year or so ago that would have meant nothing because thats what she was eating for breakfast every day! :)


So please tell me: What are some healthy lifestyle changes YOU have incorporated into the way your family eats?? I am always looking for new things to try or new ways to get my kids excited about good healthy food. And lets be honest...some days I really need to get excited about it too! Since I have been trying to get Fit do you know what has tempted me the most? Kraft Macaroni and Cheese! Wierd...right?! Hope you all have a wonderful wonderful weekend and thanks so much for stopping by!! :)

8.24.2011

Birthday Breakfast at Tiana's Place!


My stubborn, sassy, bubble-gum loving, swimsuit-wearing, obsessed with lipgloss little girl turned 4 today! She has brought me so much joy, lots of exasperation, and makes me laugh every single day.

For 2 years now she has loved EVERYTHING Princess and the Frog. Anytime there is any choice of princesses, you know she is going to choose Tiana. Since I love to do something special for breakfast on the kids' birthdays I thought it would be perfect to create our own version of "Tiana's Place"!



When Kendall came down this morning I had the soundtrack to Princess and the Frog playing and the table all set up and ready to go. Again...please ignore the crappy pictures...it really was cute! :)

This was the sign I made, just punched holes all the way around and threaded sparkly green tulle and finished it off with a big bow.





If you have never made pom-poms before you must! These were so simple...all you need is some string and tissue paper. These are just too cute and add so much to the table.






I always try to do these breakfasts on a budget...to add a little something special I punched holes in a regular paper plate and tied tulle through them. I thought it added some flair :)





These little containers I filled with Hershey Kisses....you know...frog kisses ;) The kids LOVED having a little chocolate with their breakfast :)









Here is the birthday girl herself, 4 years old!!





And it wouldn't truly be breakfast at "Tiana's Place" if you didn't have some of her famous man-catching beignets!! :) I would LOVE to lie and say I made beignets from scratch....didn't happen. I had to be up at 4:30 this morning and just didn't think I could get them ready in time for breakfast. SO....I simply thawed some frozen rolls, fried them in hot oil, and then once they drained off a little sprinkled a generous amount of powdered sugar on top. Guess what? They looked just like the beignets in the movie and tasted delicious!!




We all loved them!! :)




Happy happy birthday to my precious Kendall! I hope your day is as special as you are and I hope you loved every minute of your breakfast at Tiana's Place!!



8.23.2011

Little love notes for my 1st grader

Well, I did it! I survived dropping off my big girl at her first day of all-day 1st grade :) Yes, there were tears (just mine and her brother and sister :) but I know she is probably loving EVERY minute of it.


I have loved all the internet printables I have seen floating around blogs for little notes to send with your kids in their lunches. I STILL remember once when I was in 1st grade and my mom wrote me a little note on my napkin and put in one of those funny little Troll dolls. It totally made my day and I wanted to make sure I did some simple little things like that for Skylar.


One of my greatest weaknesses if following through on things. I know me, and I know I have great intentions to do these fun little things but I also know life gets crazy and before you know it, we will be taking last day of school pictures! So this is one simple way I came up with to let my Skylar know how much I love her every week for the whole school year :)


Using my Silhouette I cut this cute little card holder and wording.


Then I went through and picked out 40 pics of my girl that I absolutely love, that bring a smile to my face and had them printed off in a 3x5 size at WalMart. Once a week I will take one of these pictures, write a little note on the back, stick it in the card holder, and hide it in her lunch box.


Throw in a little fun-size treat and you have some special memories in the making:) Then when she brings the card holder back home that day I will take it and save it for one day the next week, pick out an already printed picture and let her know one more reason why I love her.



This is what my little cutie found in her lunch box today, I hope she loves it and realizes how crazy we all are about her. I got one of those plastic photo holder things with all the different pages and thought it would be fun for her to put all her pictures in there, and by the end of the year her book will be filled with special memories and notes from her mommy.


Happy first day of school Skylar, I am so excited for you to learn, grow and develop even more of your precious talents!!




8.22.2011

One last summer adventure

Last weekend we took our little family to Park City for the weekend to do some school shopping, go on the Alpine Slide, and have a little end-of-summer celebration! We found a great 3 bedroom condo with a loft and we were off! :)


One of the things in our Summer bucket list was to have a campout with S'mores. We hadn't gotten around to doing it yet, so we camped out in the living room and put together some yummy smores...the kids LOVED them! If you don't want to roast your marshmallows a little marshmallow fluff works just as well ;)







I love how easy kids are to please! If you ask my kids what their favorite things were about our trip they would say: the TV's in the bedrooms, getting to have sugary cereal for breakfast, and riding these little cars at the outlets!




It was a little tricky to take all the kids on the Alpine Slide because someone always had to stay with Avrie. We just decided to have Paul take Kendall, the I took Skylar, then Paul went again with Britton. It took forever...but was so worth it! The kids loved it and we decided to make it an annual tradition.



This was the beautfiul view from the ski lift....if only I wasn't completely terrified of heights I probably would have enjoyed it a little bit more ;)




To top off our long day at the Alpine Slide we got some refreshing snowcones. Look at those little darlings.




We came home on Sunday but since we knew we wouldn't be home in time to go to our church we decided to take a detour to Temple Square and see some of our favorite sights there.


I love this picture. You can't see the kids faces but they were SO excited to see the Christus statue. There is such a special feeling there, it is one of my favorite places to take my chidren.




We ended the afternoon by simply enjoying the beautiful flowers and wonderful spirit at Temple Square.






It was a great way to celebrate a wonderful summer. Skylar keeps begging to go back to Park City and Britton keeps asking for the "big slide", it was a great trip! :)

8.19.2011

Teacher gift idea with a yummy cookie recipe!




Hello everyone!! I thought I would post the quick, simple gift we threw together for Skylar's Back to School event today. I got the idea from the AMAZING girls at my new favorite blog 1825. You can get their darling printable and see how they did it right HERE.





I decided to make my own printable just so I could do it with the colors I wanted :) Feel free to save this as a picture to your computer and print it off if you like it.










Here's what you need to make your own cookie gift for the teacher's in your life:







Any kind of jar, some cute matching fabric and ribbon and your printable all ready to go.



Oh yeah....and some delicious cookies as well!! Keep reading to find out this yummy recipe...and it gets even better when you top it with the chocolate :):)





But first, we've got to finish that jar. I just put a little bit of hot glue on the lid and then stuck a piece of fabric on top. After it dried a tied a piece of ribbon around the fabric-covered lid and then cut off the excess til it had the look I wanted.





Then I simply filled it up with 8 cookies and glued the cute saying on the top, "With
you for a teacher I am sure to be on SMART Cookie!"









I think it turned out SO cute and hope Skylar's new teacher will know how excited Skylar is to be in her class and also how much we appreciate her and all her hard work.






Can't forget the recipe now can we? :) I found this online at Betty Crocker, but I tweaked it a bit to my liking...here ya go!










Chocolate Chip Marshmallow Pillows

Cookies

1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) chocolate chip cookie mix
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons water
1 egg
2/3 cup chopped pecans
12 large marshmallows, cut in half

Frosting

1 cup milk chocolate chips (6 oz)
1/3 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon butter or margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, stir cookie mix, oil, water, egg and pecans until soft dough forms.

On ungreased cookie sheets, drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart.

Bake 7 minutes. Remove from oven; immediately press marshmallow half lightly, cut side down, on top of cookie. Bake 1 to 2 minutes longer or just until marshmallows begin to soften. Cool 2 minutes; remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks. Cool completely, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in 1-quart nonstick saucepan, melt chocolate chips over low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat. Add whipping cream, butter and vanilla; blend well. Stir in powdered sugar until smooth.

Spread frosting over each cooled cookie, covering marshmallow. Let stand until frosting is set.

These are seriously SO good...I hope you enjoy!!


8.15.2011

Back to School Breakfast!

I have learned through the last several years that often (actually, more often than not) I will have a great idea for something fun, and then when I go to do it, it never quite turns out like I imagined it too. This has led me to start trying out things before hand to make sure they are actually as cute as I hoped they'd be! Hence, the reason I made my daughter's first day of school breakfast on a Monday night at 9:30 pm...gotta make sure these puppies were gonna turn out! :)




My daughter Skylar LOVES pancakes, so I knew they had to be a part of our first day of school breakfast. Whoever came up with this idea for making different-shaped pancakes is a genius and I applaud you whover you are :) All you need for this fun breakfast is pancake batter, a little food coloring and some squeezy condiment bottles...I got mine at WalMart for .97 each.




First you pour the pancake batter into 3 seperate bowls. Then you leave one plain, add green food coloring to one, and red food coloring to the other.




Then you pour the pancake batter into the condiment bottles. Make sure your griddle is hot and has been sprayed with a little cooking spray.





Then you simply squeeze the outline of an apple with the red pancake batter and then fill it in quickly. Add a straight line with the plain pancake batter and top it off with a little green leaf.



Once you let it cook for a little bit, flip this bad boy over to let it cook on its other side, and you have got yourself one CUTE little apple pancake!




Aren't they darling?! Imagine if I had a decent camera....then you could really enjoy their cuteness ;) The only thing that could make these better is a delicious, creamy apple syrup...YUMMM!





Man, now that I know how easy it is to make pancakes using those condiment bottles I think we are going to be having a LOT more fun-shaped pancakes at the Johnson house! :)




Thank you SO much for stopping by, I hope you find a great way to make the little ones in your life feel loved and special on their big day!



Tip Junkie handmade projects





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8.12.2011

Back to school family home evening

I cannot believe that school starts for us in a little over a week!! I'm preparing to send my oldest off to big scary 1st grade....I'm the one scared, not her! :) I really wanted to prepare a fun family home evening that talked about things I want her to remember while she's at school, and especially about being a good example. To start off I printed and laminated this scripture for us to repeat several times together.



After we do the scripture we are going to have each child get their backpack and bring it down. Once they have we are going to talk about how we need different things to help us be more successful at school. In a big basket I will have glue, notebooks, scissors, pencils, folders, rulers and crayons or markers. As we talk about each seperate school supply we will talk about how we not only need that supply to do our work at school, but what character attribute it represents. As we talk about each one they will pick it out of the basket and put them in their backpacks. I printed off copies of the following cards and attached them to each school supply.





















My hope with this lesson is two-fold. I hope that attaching these qualities to items they are familiar with will remind them of things they should be doing each time they see the item. For example, when they see a bottle of glue to remember to "stick" up for kids that are being picked on. Secondly, I hope to drive home the importance of being a good example, standing up for what they know is right, and being the beautiful children their Heavenly Father expects them to be.


A new school year is a fresh start, and I am SO excited to start it off focusing on being true to the values we have been taught and striving to become more like our savior! If you need a fun dessert idea you can check out my post HERE where I made some fun 1st day of school cupcakes, or HERE where we made some crayon treats for a bday party :)


Have a wonderful weekend and thank you so much for stopping by Blue Skies Ahead!

Fit Friday...no gym, no problem!



Hey everyone!! Welcome to another Fit Friday :) Today I wanted to talk a little bit about some simple excercises and videos you can do from home if working out at a gym is not practical for you.


After having my 4th baby I knew I was going to have to ease myself back into working out pretty slowly so both of these videos are much lower impact, but also have the option of bumping it up once you feel a little stronger. I also love that they both have different levels so you can switch it up so you're not doing the same thing every day. Another bonus: they are super cheap! I think they were both $9 each at Walmart...can't beat that! :)


The great thing about these workouts are all you need are some hand weights and you are ready to go! I got mine from Walmart for super cheap.


Don't be turned off by the title of this first one :) When I think of power walk I do NOT think of a killer workout, but this one is actually pretty good. It has 4 seperate 1 mile walks, and 2 of them use weights or a medicine ball. If you have the time, do all 4 and in about an hour you have gone approximately 4 miles and really worked your upper body as well. This was a great way to start excercising after having a baby, it got me up and moving without overdoing it.



This next video is my favorite! Again it has 3 different levels, so as you progress you can add on levels until you get to where you can do the entire video, which is 55 minutes. It is a FULL body workout, you are constantly working upper and lower body at the same time, and then inbetween sets of weights getting your heart rate up with jumping jacks, push-ups and jumping squats. The stronger you get the heavier weights you can use so it doesn't get too easy for you :) This bootcamp is great if you are like me and need to work a little bit on EVERYTHING :)

These are just 2 that I have really enjoyed as I have gotten back into the groove of things. As you get stronger and stronger, there are some amazing killer workouts out there like P90X, Insanity, and more. These 2 are wonderful for starting out and rebuilding some of that muscle and endurance you may be missing.

I really enjoyed the opportunity I took last week to focus on the things I like about my body, it was amazing what a difference a change in attitude will do for you! My goal this week is silly, but really important! I have upped my workouts at the gym to some killer cardio and spin classes. I LOVE them and have really felt a change in my body since I started, but I am horrible about going to class on an empty stomach. This week my goal is to have a protein shake before I work out. Ughhh...just writing the word protein makes me gag! I cannot stand protein powder, but I notice a huge change when I have a little something in my system before I attack a workout. SO, wish me luck as I muscle down these protein shakes :)

I hope you all have a wonderful week and stay positive as you make even little changes in your life that can help you get a little more Fit!! :)