Thrifty Thursdays

thrifty thursdays

I have always had an affinity for old, beat-up mens belts. Back before Ed Hardy was let loose into the world of belt design. Before “No Fear,” before flames showed up on everything, and even though I love a good frothy beverage, before belts could open beer bottles. There is just something about that simple and clean design that sticks out in my head. The more beat up, the better.

But like everything in life, you eventually outgrow your belts. You start having babies, and the men start gaining “sympathy weight.” You start poking new holes that go further and further out and and before you know it, your favorite belt ends up in a pile you never thought it would see – the donate pile.

Before you go tossing that belt all willy nilly, here are a couple projects that could bring new life to your old belt. If you happen to have (or find) a belt with a rockin’ imprinted design, or an old school big belt buckle – even better.

Image belongs to Design*Sponge

Image belongs to Design*Sponge

Recycled Leather and Wood Shelf from Design*Sponge – Kate Pruitt is the Senior Editor at Design*Sponge and has completed over 100 projects for that site. Damn, girl. She used two different belts for this project, both of which she got at a thrift store. Kate brought up a valid point – belts can be rather overpriced, so keep looking if you can’t find one for a good price. Also check out swap meets and yard sales – they may be a little cheaper, and if not, you can talk them down. She ended up finding both belts for under $10, which means that she spent less than $15 on the whole project. You can find out more by clicking on the photo or Design*Sponge link above. You can also find more of Kate Pruitt’s projects here.

Image  belongs to Poppytalk

Image belongs to Poppytalk

Hanging belt vessel from Poppytalk – If you have ever tried reusing glass bottles and it has taken you beyond forever to get that label off, and you start thinking that maybe it would look fine if the label just stayed on. People would get the concept of a flower vase that is completely covered by an olive oil label, right? Well, Jan shared an alternative – peanut butter! It’s delicious and serves multiple purposes! You can get the entire tutorial, along with beautiful photos, and a whole lot more by clicking on the photo or the Poppytalk link above.

Image belongs to House of Earnest

Image belongs to House of Earnest

Leather Belt Curtain Ties from House of Earnest – Along with the Poppytalk tutorial, I got this tutorial from a roundup at BrightNest. Erin’s blog is full of crafty yet classy projects like this, and her photos are both beautiful and informative. She also has a Home Decor section – where she shares home tours, sweet products and interior design ideas and inspiration. If you are looking to beautify your house without a spending a whole lot of money, you should go check her out.

And for an added thrifty bonus: APPLE BUTTER! I am lucky enough to live relatively close to Apple Hill – an amazing place in Placerville, CA that holds a craft fair, a pumpkin patch, and you guessed it – all things apple. While I was there, I sipped on apple wine while eating an apple doughnut. It was amazing. I came really close to purchasing apple butter – until I saw that it was almost $10 for a little jar. DAMN. Now, I’m all about supporting homemade, handmade and small businesses, but sometimes a girl just can’t do it. So I decided I would make my own. Here’s an awesome recipe I found:

Image belongs to My Baking Addiction

Image belongs to My Baking Addiction

Homemade Apple Butter from My Baking Addiction – Jamie made this recipe in her crock pot, and I just saw another apple recipe she slow cooked – applesauce! I would have to say that I’m not a huge fan about eating apples a la mode. Not sure why, but I usually always have to pair them with peanut butter. We just got some apples fresh from Washington so I would really like to use them up! I think these recipes are both in order.  She also shares baking fundamentals and tips on her blog, so I see her site becoming a good resource for me.

If you have any belt projects you would like to share, or you completed one of these projects, post in the comments and share on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest with the hashtag #thriftythursdays. If there is a project you would like to see in the future, please let me know. I hope that this series shows you that there are many things you can do with discarded items that don’t take a whole lot of money. Stay thrifty, my friends.

Gettin Fit: Interview with Toni Jones

Image belongs to Toni Jones

Image belongs to Toni Jones

Yes, another interview this week. I’m lucky to interview such inspirational people and to share their stories with you. Every time I read what they have to say, I feel motivated (especially when it comes to anything with health and fitness). It’s easy to stop when you don’t feel good (My whole family is battling a cold right now, and between taking care of my baby and myself, I have had no energy to do anything else). But when I read a good fitness story, I always find a way to pick up from where I left off. So, this could not have come at a better time. Today I’m talking with Toni Jones, 28, of Monrovia, CA, who is a trainer and who follows a gluten-free diet after discovering eczema on her baby.

Have you always been into health and fitness? Starting at a young age, I was always involved in sports but as far as nutrition goes, I knew very little. Coming from a single mother home and having two other siblings, there were days and nights where food was limited so we ate whatever we could find in the house at the time.

When did you find out about your allergy problems and how did that affect the food you eat? About two years ago when I gave birth to my youngest daughter, she had a bad eczema outbreak on her stomach and legs. I also had eczema behind my arms my whole life and creams never really took it away. I started to research “how to treat eczema” myself and experiment by eliminating foods. Once I took out gluten and dairy from my diet I started to see results and in no time my eczema was completely gone!

Since I was breast feeding at the time, taking it out of my diet -also took it out of my daughters diet and her eczema was completely gone too! That’s when I decided to get testing done to see what else I may be allergic or intolerant to.  I found out I’m allergic to corn, dairy, gluten and peanuts. Now, we eat like “cave men” as my husband says. We don’t eat processed foods and have to read all the labels. It was extremely overwhelming at first, but now that it’s been a few years, it has been a lot easier.

Are you the cook in the household or does your husband help? I do most of the cooking because I know what to get from stores and know the brands that are tolerant for me. My husband will occasionally help cook and do the grill if I prep it first because my way is like a different language to him.

Image belongs to Toni Jones

Image belongs to Toni Jones

Are there any websites that inspire your recipes? Yes! I have a top three that I love using…they are all blogs with people who have similar allergies to me. Against All Grain,  Elana’s Pantry and The Clean Program Blog

Does your family eat the same food as you? Absolutely. Creating healthy habits for my family is priority. I even started a book of my favorite recipes for them with pictures and notes. I want them to each have one when they grow up and go out on their own. I also make sure that both of my daughters go shopping with me to pick out vegetables and then they help me prepare them. It’s fun and they love knowing they did something so “grown-up”!

I love the book idea – may have to start my own!

How do you manage your workouts with taking care of your children? Do you involve them in the workouts? I usually do my workouts early in the morning before they wake up and before my husband goes to work or I do them later in evening once they are getting ready for bed and my husband takes over bath and bedtime. If those don’t work my girls come with me to workout and they usually try to “copy” me and we will skip rope together!

Favorite fitness wear? I love LuLu Lemon, it’s expensive but I love their pants! They fit great and they don’t become see-through as some do over time. The quality is great. As far as tops go, I love tank tops so I get whatever is on sale. Target has some great sports bras and tanks for great prices!

What’s your most favorite meal to make? Two words, SLOW COOKER! I love using it because it’s super easy, and not time consuming. I’m free to run errands, play with my kids, or do house work- all while dinner is being cooked. My favorite thing to make is throw in so chicken, a lot of veggies, season to taste and there you go! I usually use the slow cooker when I know my days are so busy.

I agree. My slow cooker is one of my favorite things about fall. That, and my birthday, of course.

If you do have a cheat meal, what is it? I love Pizza!

Best and worst part of being a trainer? I love helping clients feel great about themselves. I want them to look in the mirror and be happy about what they see back. I want my clients to feel strong, healthy and sexy! My favorite is seeing them smile from ear to ear when they tell me about how they went shopping and dropped sizes or just how great and energized they feel.

I wouldn’t say there as any “worse” thing about being a trainer, but something that does grind my bones is when I have someone who trains and I’ve worked so hard to create a program for them and they just disregard it and blame me for their lack of weight loss. I always say “What you eat in private, you wear in public.” As a trainer I can only do so much to help someone achieve their goals but if they can’t put in the effort and meet me in the middle, they won’t see change.

Screen Shot 2013-08-04 at 12.14.28 PM

Image belongs to Toni Jones

What motivates you every day? I motivate myself. I see how far I’ve come mentally and physically and I’m proud of what I’m accomplishing and have accomplished. I love learning about the human body and nutrition and I feel inspired all the time. Seeing old pictures of myself when I didn’t have kids and seeing them now after having two and feeling more beautiful than ever is pretty amazing!

Where do you get your workout inspiration? I’ve learned from so many great trainers by shadowing them. They all had different views and programs but I can really appreciate the diversity of it all. I also love how women these days are really becoming stronger and seeing that being model skinny isn’t what it’s all about. It’s about being strong and feeling beautiful no matter what body type you may have. I used to box so creating workouts that are empowering and fun is my style. I want my clients to be proud of themselves and see how strong they have become but most importantly having fun is the key!

Screen Shot 2013-08-04 at 12.19.37 PMWhat advice do you have for people who want to workout every day but can’t make it to the gym? Honestly go to Target, Walmart, or wherever they sell jump ropes and start jumping rope! It’s a great cardio and gets the legs looking good! Try to keep busy by moving around like gardening, playing with your kids, walking or taking a jog and most of all watch the food you put in your mouth!! Try to be mindful of your eating.
Just a little tip. If you have had a baby in the last year, be careful when you try jumping rope, or doing jumping jacks. You know why.

What projects are you working on right now? I’m currently in the middle of creating a workout program for women and men where we meet three times a week for six weeks and do workouts while eating properly. I want to teach them to live healthy and NOT diet! It’s about changing your lifestyle and being active to achieve better health. Everyone is capable of it, you just need to start!

What is the best part about your health and lifestyle change? As I mentioned earlier, as a kid we didn’t always have food around so learning about nutrition was like learning whole new language. I always struggled with weight issues because i barely ate or when I did eat it was all the wrong stuff. I hated how I looked and it made me so depressed growing up. When I had my first daughter I was determined to change because I wanted her to see me happy and love myself. I didn’t want her to learn that looking at yourself in the mirror meant criticizing your flaws.

I wanted her to know that when she looks in the mirror that girls that she sees is beautiful no matter what! I’ve changed my body by workout out and eating healthy, but I also changed my mind. Even with stretch marks from my pregnancy I still find them beautiful because it reminds me that my body was used to create these two little humans. That young girl who  always had weight issues and eczema no longer exists. I’m a confident, strong  and independent women, mother and wife. I won’t stop at nothing to help other women and men feel the same way. I mean, “YOLO” right 😉

You can find out more about Toni Jones on her blog, I’ll Start on Monday and you can also follow her on Facebook under Get it Right, Get it Tight. Who inspires you to keep living healthy? Whether they motivate you to eat better or workout more, I would love to know! Share in the comments and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #healthmotivator and maybe I can score an interview with them, too! Check out my Pinterest for more healthy inspiration

a day of soup

I’m pretty sure that there is not one person in the world who loves moving. All of the packing and unpacking, I could really do without that. I can’t wait for the day when I can afford to have movers, that’s my version of achieving the American dream.

But, there is one good thing I can always count on when I move. If you give yourself enough time, it can be like spring cleaning. Of course, if you don’t allow yourself the time, you end up just throwing everything into boxes and bags and promising yourself that you’ll organize when you get there, which you’ll never do. Trust me…I’ve been there before.

Another thing I like to do before I move is see what I can make with the food in the cupboard and fridge so I don’t have to pack it, or even worse…get frustrated with all the recipes I bought food for but never actually used and just get rid of the food altogether.

IMG_2680So, when I looked in my cupboard and saw this little beauty, I figured this would be the perfect time to try it. I made a cup of rice with 1 cup of veggie broth and 2 cups of water. Then I added a cup of the soup on top of it and…voila! My lunch was served…and it was amazing. The soup was 8 points, which is a little high but it was healthy and I wasn’t ready to eat my own skin by the time dinner was ready, like usual.

For dinner, I decided to try another recipe from Skinny Ms. Slow Cooker. This time it was a Southwestern black bean and veggie soup, which at only 3 points for a cup and a half of soup, it was surprisingly filling.

Due to some of the ingredients not being available, I had to make some small adjustments:

  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small sweet onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, sliced into 1/4″ pieces
  • 1 medium sweet potato, cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can fire roasted tomatoes (regular diced is optional)
  • 1 (4 ounce) can green chili peppers, diced
  • 2 (15 ounce cans) black beans, drained
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, more or less to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Kosher or sea salt to taste
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth, low-sodium

IMG_2679All you have to do is put those ingredients and then cook the soup on low for about 6-7 hours. Did I mention how much I love my slow cooker? I swear it was invented by a stay at home mom to a little baby. I was able to feed her, rock her, cuddle her, feed her, change her diaper, feed her some more and do my homework without ever touching the crock pot. It was amazing!

The best part of this…I have leftovers for tomorrow. You never truly appreciate the value of leftovers until you are the one cooking.

the secret world of slow cooking

Before our baby was born, cooking was pretty simple. I would make Sam breakfast every morning, heat up some leftovers or make something like Top Ramen for lunch and then would make what seemed like endless amounts of pasta for dinner.

Sometimes I would try out a new recipe and if we didn’t have any food in our fridge, we would end up getting fast food or pizza. Then the baby came and Sam stopped getting his lunch made for him every day. When he gets home from work, he takes the baby so I can clean and get her bottles ready for them. Before we know it, we’re eating toast for dinner and he’s ready to go to bed.

SONY DSCSo, when I got a slow cooker for Christmas, it felt like gold had been dropped in my lap. Now I could start dinner when the baby took her first nap, and could pack Sam leftovers for lunch the next day. It was a miracle! There was only one issue. How the heck does one make a dinner in a crock pot?

I started doing some research on my usual gateway drug, Pinterest. A couple hours later, my grocery list was nearly two pages long. I had no idea what I had gotten myself into. And more than that, I had know idea about this secret world of slow cooking.

Who knew there were so many people who were so passionate about slow cooking, and that they even had Weight Watchers recipes!

In case I’m not the only one with a crock pot and no idea where to start, I’m sharing some of the blogs I visited and some good websites for finding crock pot recipes.

Skinnytaste.com – According to the blog’s About Me section, the blog is owned by Gina Homolka, an author, photographer and recipe developer of Skinnytaste.com which features delicious, healthy, low fat, family-friendly recipes several times per week. All of the recipes include nutritional info as well as Weight Watcher Points. While the blog does not focus crock pot recipes, there is a crock pot section.

Skinnyms.com – A website devoted to healthy slow cooking recipes. There is also a fitness section, menu planning and a shop. This site also promotes Weight Watchers and has a section with Weight Watchers recipes with five points or less.

Crock Pot Recipe Exchange – A website that is all about crock pot recipes. The author, Ginger, stated on her blog that for over 10 years, she got requests for crock pot recipes and started a blog for people to exchange crock pot recipes.

Crock Pot Girl – TONS of crock pot recipes, with everything from breakfast to dinner, holidays and healthier recipes. Jenn Bare, the blog author, also wrote a book called “Get Crocked: The Definitive Guide to Crockpot Cooking.” Her website was named the “#1 Slow Cooking Website” on the Web by “All Women’s Talk.”

Crock Pot Moms – A facebook page devoted to crock pot recipes. I didn’t find a website on their facebook page, but they post all of the recipes on their page and they have a forum where it would appear the old recipes are archived.

What site do you visit for your crock pot recipes? What’s your favorite recipe?