Saturday, January 19, 2019

5 Fun Things To Do With Your Family On Spring Break

Guest post by Stephanie Bates, Military Travel Mama.

Have an Adventure

Just because you're not in college anymore doesn't mean you can't celebrate. Check out these five Spring Break ideas. It’s not too late to plan something for your family this year!

1. Go big and go on an International adventure
Have you always wanted to go to the jungle, desert, white sandy beaches, visit an international city, and amazing national parks? Consider splurging this year and go to Australia! It may be a little hectic traveling so far, but it will be the family vacation you’ll talk about forever. And you will love all their theme parks, too!

2. Shop budget flights to find your next destination
Don’t have the budget for a trip to Australia? That’s ok! Check out last minute flights and travel packages from all major airlines. There are always budget flights available for spur-of-the-moment trips. It may not be anywhere you were planning to go, but then again, you might make a discovery of your new favorite place. Be open-minded and see what you find! Maybe you’ll find yourselves on a beach in the Philippines!

3. Road trip to an amusement park, beach, or shopping area
There are so many fun amusement parks, remote beaches, and great places to shop it’s a fun option for families on a budget. Make a list of 3 fun things that are within a few hours drive from where you live. Then ask your kids and spouse to vote on what they'd like to do. Support the idea with park tickets, spending money for a shopping trip, or great beach treats. Add in a night or two in a hotel and you’ve got a super fun trip.

4. Plan a staycation and have some fun family time
Sometimes relaxing at home is what you need. Your youngsters may not always want to take a trip. Check out some local entertainment and activities in your own backyard. Play tourist in your town for the weekend! You’ll be surprised how much fun you can have. Especially if it involves a trip to a local candy store.

5. Ideas for “too cool” teenagers
Teenagers never want parents around or to be involved in their plans, but they might feel differently if you sprung to cover the cost of their activities! Work with a few other parents to pool funds to pay for bowling night, movies, dinner out, or tickets to an amusement park. They may act too cool. But they’ll appreciate the gesture and will have a ton of fun, even if they don’t show it.

Choose What Works for You

Whether you travel out of the country, just stay home, plan some teen activities, take a road trip, or seek out family entertainment at amusement parks, beaches, or elsewhere, there is ample opportunity for a spring break adventure this year on any budget! Think outside the box and try something new!

About the Author

Stephanie Bates is a travel and food blogger, wife, and mother of two great kids. She's got great tips on traveling, food, parenthood and all things related to life in the military. Check out her site Military Travel Mama.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

7 Reasons Why January is the Best Time To Join a Gym or Health Club

This is me doing a plank challenge. Two and a half years ago I thought a plank was a piece of wood (which it still is.) I had no idea there was another type of plank. And here I am today doing a plank challenge to help strengthen my core. Which is also another term I didn't really think too much about. I would have said "core" is something you find in the center of an apple. I got my exercise outdoors by hiking, biking, and swimming. 

This year I'm on a mission.

I'm on a journey as thousands of other people are to live a healthier and happier lifestyle which means exercising regularly and eating better. I don't want to be a bodybuilder. I just want to be less giggly so my clothes fit better. And I'm not looking for a diet. I'm looking for a lifestyle change. Something that is sustainable. Something I can manage every week and maintain without too much torture. And I like to eat. So I need a nutrition program that is more than eating lettuce and celery. I want real food. And an occasional glass of wine.

Sound familiar?

So why are the media so negative?? I’ve been reading all these articles about why you shouldn’t join a gym in January. That you’ll be setting yourself up for disappointment and you won’t keep your resolution to get in shape beyond the end of the month. 

I find this really frustrating because the biggest factor in reaching your goals is setting your mind to accomplish something. If you have finally decided that this is the year you are going to get in shape and lead a healthier lifestyle than you should go for it. Ignore the negativity and the naysayers. They are not you. They don’t believe in fitness resolutions because it’s not something they want to do.

Full disclosure......I currently work for a chain of health clubs based in California. In the 2.5 years I have I worked at In-Shape Health Clubs, I have learned so much about what motivates people to work out. So even though I have all this insight and knowledge, I am just like you. I have the same issues with time constraints, willpower, diet, and motivation. I too decided this is my year. Only for me, I started my journey on November 15th. That was my day. I am now on a diet program with Jumpstart MD and am regularly working out 3-4 times a week. I am seeing the change already - and it's so motivating! I know I will reach my goal because I have made up my mind to do so. There are temptations all around me. But I'm staying strong. I'm doing this for myself. And it is so rewarding!!

So here is my advice for those of you, like me, who want to change your lifestyle, exercise routine and nutrition in 2019.

1. Join a gym, health club, studio, Bootcamp or exercise program – find something that interests you. If you’re not sure what you like to do, then give some different things a try. Almost every single program out there allows a free trial. My biggest tip is to make sure it is convenient to get to (less than 10 minutes away). And has childcare if you have young kids. 

2. Join now– all of the clubs and programs are offering great deals in January. You’ll get the lowest dues, or additional perks because they know that so many people have set resolutions for January. So, take advantage of their offers. Don’t wait. Don’t let the rain or snow be an excuse. Get off the couch and go now. Seize the day!

3. Ask for advice – every fitness company has people on staff to help you set goals and develop a program. They want you to succeed. And they’ve been trained to help you. All you have to do is ask.

4. Find a buddy – I work best when I have someone to work out with and to hold me accountable. We all have those days when we want to skip our workout. Your buddy will keep you going. And you’ll keep them going. Plus, it’s way more fun. All the laughs together help your core, too!

6. Step outside your comfort zone and try new things – you may be shocked to find out that you really enjoy doing something that you’ve never tried. My favorite thing in the club is the Les Mills BODYPUMP class. I always thought that dance/cardio classes were my thing. Not anymore. I love the weight/resistance training classes.

7. Set goals and track your progress – there is nothing more personally motivating then tracking your results and seeing your measurements and/or weight change. Find the tracker that works for you. There are a lot of apps and fitness trackers out there. I’ve been tracking my diet and exercise with an app called CARB MANAGER. I like it because I can track food, water, activity – and be part of a chat group if I want.

Finally, if you have set your mind to do it than you will succeed. Keep the faith. And remember slow and steady wins the race. Give yourself 3-6 months to start seeing real results.

Stay strong and good luck!

ps. Keep me posted on your goals and progress!

Monday, December 17, 2018

Shaved Brussels Sprouts With Bacon Recipe

by Kris Mulkey (recipe inspired by Ina Garten)

I'm always looking for new side dish recipes that are tasty and easy. Who doesn't want that? We all have busy lives and want yummy food on the table fast. After a long day we're tired, hungry and really just want to sit down and relax. Am I right?

So last Saturday I was watching the Food Network. Three of my favorite shows were on - the Barefoot Contessa, Trisha Yearwood and the Pioneer Woman. I always get great tips and recipe ideas from these shows so I was excited when Ina said she was making Shaved Brussels Sprouts. 

I realize that sounds strange. Who on earth gets excited about Brussels Sprouts? Well, I do!

We eat them all the time because they are so easy to make. I usually just roast them in the oven with some EVOO and seasoning and they always come out nice and crispy and super tasty. 

Ina's recipe calls for the sprouts to be shredded in the food processor (which I have. yay.)  But I also know you can buy them shredded at Whole Foods. So, this just got real. This could turn into a weeknight favorite! 

Plus, the other ingredients are fridge staples in my house: Butter, shallots, and bacon. 

Her version called for Pancetta. I didn't have that. But I did have bacon. And let me tell you it is delicious with bacon. (But what isn't delicious with bacon! Bacon makes everything better.)  

This new recipe may be my new favorite for Brussels Sprouts. The veggies are tender. The bacon is crispy. And the splash of balsamic gives it a nice subtle tang! 

And, to make it even better, it's really fast and easy to make.

Shaved Brussels Sprouts With Bacon Recipe

3 T Olive Oil
3 slices of bacon, sliced into small pieces
2 T unsalted butter
3 large shallots diced (about 1 1/2 cup)
2 packages fresh Brussels sprouts trimmed and shaved (sliced thin in a food processor or by hand)
1 1/2 t. salt
3/4 t. pepper
1 T Balsamic Vinegar

1. Cook bacon pieces in 1 T olive oil in a large saute pan until crisp. Transfer to a paper towel.
2. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter to the same saute pan. Add the shallots and cook 5-7 minutes until they are starting to brown. 
3. Add the Brussels Sprouts to the pan with the shallots. Season with the salt and pepper. Saute 5-7 minutes until bright green and crisp-tender. Add the bacon. Cook one more minute. 
4. Take off the heat. Drizzle the Balsamic over the cooked Brussels Sprouts, season to taste. Serve hot!

*Recipe inspired by Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Kiwi Mojito Recipe

We started getting a box of fresh fruits and vegetables delivered to our home about a month ago. It's been great getting the freshest seasonal items delivered right to our door every two weeks. I chose the box that is random items because I think it's fun to try new things. This week we received 4 fresh kiwis. Yum! I thought I would just cut them up and eat them and then I noticed they have a recipe for kiwi mojitos in their newsletter. I love mojitos, so I knew I had to try this recipe.

The mojito is delicious! The combination of kiwi, lime, and mint is so refreshing and delicious it may become your new favorite mojito flavor.

If you've never had a kiwi you should try one. They have hints of other fruits like strawberries, melons, pineapples, and bananas. They can be eaten in salads, on yogurt, in a fruit salad or fruit tart, or a mojito.

Kiwis have more Vitamin C than an orange and are a good source of dietary fiber and Vitamin E.

Did you know the fuzzy peel is edible?? I did not! You can eat it just like an apple. Just rinse it off, rub off a little of the fuzz and eat away. If that's not your thing you can peel off the skin with a potato peeler or paring knife.

An unripe kiwi can be a little tart. You'll know it's ripe when there is a little give when pinched - like an avocado.

makes two cocktails

2 medium kiwis, peeled and coarsely chopped
8 mint leaves
1-ounce simple syrup
2 ounces Bacardi White Rum
1-ounce fresh lime juice
club soda or sparkling water

  1. In a food processor or blender, puree the kiwi and mint leaves until smooth.
  2. Strain the blended mixture into a measuring cup to get out all the liquid. Discard the seeds and pulp.
  3. Add the simple syrup, lime juice, and rum. Test for sweetness. You may need to add more simple syrup.
  4. Add ice to each glass. Pour the mixture over the ice in the two glasses. Top with soda water or club soda.
  5. Garnish with a mint leaf, wedge of lime and slice of kiwi.
To make your own simple syrup dissolve 4 tablespoons of sugar in 1/2 cup boiling water. Let cool.