Monday, January 31, 2011

Resolution Update

Well it is just about the end of the month and one month into my New Years Resolution of "better time management". Thought I would give you a little update to let you know how I'm doing with it.

This definitely isn't something that will change over night. To have better time management is almost changing who I am as person, because I am trying to permanently change some bad habits I have developed over an entire lifetime. So it has been a slow process, but I have really been trying to work on it.

Baby steps are important and I think the only way I can be successful at anything. Because diving in head-first into something is just way too overwhelming and makes me want to quit before I have even begun. So some little things I have been doing....

1. If I want to workout that day, I get up, gets dressed and head straight to the gym first thing! Even before breakfast. (Or workout at home). Helps me to just get it out of the way so I can go about my day. The longer I procrastinate with working out the bigger the chance I won't do it at all. Plus I notice if I work out in the morning it really gives me energy and gets me motivated to be productive that day.

2. I have also been trying to limit my time on the internet during the morning and afternoon hours. I try to save it for the evening when I am relaxing.

3. If I REALLY don't feel like being very productive any given day, I tell myself get at least one thing accomplished off your To Do list. At least ONE. I figure it is completely doable and hey, one thing is better then nothing at all! Thats one more thing I don't have to do the next day.

So those are a couple things I have been doing. Small changes but still have a big impact on my life. I am going to keep working hard over this next month and let you know my progress.

On an ending note, I have a few things I have learned. Better time management for myself isn't just about checking off as many things as I can off my To Do list. It is so much more then that. It has a lot to do with being honest with myself and knowing what really works for ME. For example I said before how I am going to try to cut down on my morning time. Well I did cut back a little, but it turns out morning time is very important for me and I think I need it. Or another example, Mondays are just a tough day for me so I have accepted that Mondays just aren't going to be the most productive day of the week. It makes me feel a little better giving myself those "breaks" and not being so hard on myself.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Best Chocolate Cake Ever. Period.

Austin and I are celebrating Valentine's Day tonight because he won't be around on February 14th. I wanted to make a really decadent chocolate dessert. I wouldn't say my favorite dessert is cake so I rarely make them. And I definitely have never made one from scratch before. But there is something fancy about cake so I thought it would be a good thing to make for a fancy dinner at home. Out of all cakes chocolate is probably my least favorite (gasp! I know). But this one might very well change all that! It is so moist, rich, chocolaty and just incredible! I kinda wanted to cry a little the first bite I took. I couldn't believe I made it! Definitely keep this one in your recipe file!

Double Chocolate Layer Cake Recipe

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Valentine's Day

Do you guys, like me, just love the feeling of Valentine's Day? Well besides the obvious, it is a day you get to celebrate you and your hunny! But even as a kid there was just something about it. I loved all the bright, clashing colors, the yummy treats, and all the fun crafts. Maybe it had something to do with all the love in the air! Of course as a kid I didn't really have much of a concept of love, but I did always kinda wonder if the boy I had a crush on would give me a Valentine. Oh my gosh I almost forgot about Valentine's Day cards! Those cute, corny little things with cartoon characters on them that we would pass out in class. And I always had to make sure I didn't give the boys anything that was too mushy!

It's just a really fun holiday! Here is some good more grow-up ideas from who else but Martha Stewart.

I doubt I would ever get around to making anything like those ideas but the pictures are even just fun to look at. Kinda puts you in the mood for the whole holiday. And I was maybe thinking about having a little Valentine's Day craft party with some of my girl friends. How fun would that be?! Crafts are great. Really makes you feel like a kid again! And of course we would have to use lots and lots of glitter!!


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Off Days

This is something I have come to decide is very important for mental health. I came to this realization talking to Steph the other day. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, some days are just destined to be "off days". The important thing to note here is that it's okay. I think sometimes when you fight so hard to make an off-day a great day, it is almost doing the opposite of the intended purpose. It seems that when I fight so hard to make an off-day a great day, it almost just exhausts me. What do you do when you wake up to an off-day? I say just give into it. Stephanie said something along the lines of "I think some days are just going to mediocre". I mean everyday can't be totally amazing, right? Because then the really good days wouldn't seem so good. Kinda like you can't fully appreciate how amazing spring feels if you never had the winter.

Sometime I feel like I get more done when I just give into an off-day. Let me explain. When I try to be productive when I'm really not feeling it, I tend to waste so much time trying to get myself motivated. I'll drink coffee while I play on the internet, procrastinate while making phone calls, slowly get myself dressed, drink more coffee and play on my computer a little more... before I know it I have wasted hours doing pretty much nothing. If I had just given into the off-day, or as mom likes to call it a "mental health day", I could have at least been doing something to better myself in some small way.

For example on a mental health day (we will now call it, sounds more optimistic), I might curl up and relax with some magazines I have been wanting to read, or work on something artistic, maybe finally accomplish some project I have been trying to work on for months.

Now, the biggest issue to work on here, is to have a mental health day without feeling guilty about it! Tiff & Steph, I know you have problems with this like I do! It makes us feel lazy because there is always soooooo much we could be working on. We need to tell yourselves, "It is okay for me to have a day to relax and re-charge!" Chances are you will only feel extra rejuvenated for tomorrow!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Think Happy Thoughts!

Peter Pan had it right! Something I try to always do is keep a happy thought it my mind! I keep it there in the back of everything. When I feel myself starting to fall into a negative place, I pull that thought back up and it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside or even rejuvenated. It is such an easy yet effective way to try and keep yourself feeling good.

A "happy thought" is more then just a nice idea, it is something that is really strong and effective to YOU.

The “thought” can be a memory or even just a feeling. And it can be so simple. You know that feeling when the house is completely clean, physically and mentally you’re feeling great, there’s a wonderful dinner in the oven, candles are lite, you don’t have anything pressing to attend to, and you are relaxing with a magazine and a hot cup of tea. Ok maybe you don’t know that feeling because how often does that really happen. But you can imagine how good that feels, right? And when I keep a nice thought like that in my mind, I find myself wanting to try and create that for myself. I want that feeling of the prefect, carefree day. So I try to take care of anything I have been procrastinating on so I can have that peaceful feeling, I clean the house because that ALWAYS puts me in a better mood, and might work out and get dressed to help me feel better and more refreshed physically.

So really it is just a trick of the mind that helps to get my butt in gear. If I want to really have that feeling, I have to create it. Some other happy thoughts I keep in my mind are memories. One of my favorites is when the 3 of us would get together as kids and play video games. Or family vacations is another good one. Or maybe something really simple, like a time we were all laughing together.

It is really kinda hard to explain how keeping those happy thoughts in my mind makes me feel. I guess it is just a reminder of what an amazing life I have had and continue to have... What are your happy thoughts?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Happiness is a lot of work!

Something I have been focusing on this month is a positive outlook. I think it’s something to work just a little harder on during the winter months. It is so easy to get down when it's cold and gloomy all the time. There’s nothing wrong with little tricks for yourself to help get you through the chill and lack of color in the world.

I'm sorry but I'm just not one of those people who wakes up every morning whistleing zippity do da. After all these years I have come to peace with the fact that to be in a good mood every day, I’m just going to have to work on it a little harder. Most of the time it needs to be a constant conscious effort for me. And I think that is Okay. So I am working on a series of posts on things I do that helps to put me in a better mood and make each and every day special. Stay tuned!

Health Benefits of Lemon Water

As I was drinking my warm lemon water this morning, I thought...."hmmm, I should do a blog post about this..."

The first thing I do every morning while I'm still waking up, is make my warm lemon water and sip it as I read e-mails and check my usual web sites. Lemon water is such a great feel-good thing to do first thing in the morning. I drink it mainly for stomach and digestive purposes but it has so many other health benefits as well. Drink it first thing in the morning, before you eat anything, and it helps to cleanse and detox your body. I found a website that lists the top 10 benefits of lemon water. After reading it you'll be drinking lemon water every day too!

Go here for more detailed information: Top Ten Health Benefits of Lemon Water

  1. Good for stomach
  2. Excellent for Skin Care
  3. Aids in Dental Care
  4. Cures Throat Infections
  5. Good for Weight Loss
  6. Controls High Blood Pressure
  7. Assist in curing Respiratory Disorders
  8. Good for treating Rheumatism
  9. Reduces Fever
  10. Acts as a blood purifier

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Great Winter Dish

I was looking for something really different to make for dinner. I was starting to feel like I was cooking the same things over and over. I was watching the Foodnetwork (of course) and saw Giada De Laurentiis make this Osso Bucco. I really wasn't sure what Osso Bucco was but I did know that this dish look super yummy and comforting. Perfect for a winters night. And boy talk about an aromatic meal! This might very well be the best smelling dish I ever made. The aroma that filled the house was like a big hug!

The Gremolata sounded weird but I had all the ingredients so thought I would give it a go. It was actually really good and added to the amazing smells of the dish and gave it a punch of flavor. Plus it looked pretty on the turkey. The only thing I would say it to watch for how much broth you use with the turkey. Mine got a little watered down. I served the turkey over orzo pasta. Think this one is worth making!

Be Joyful Series

I came across this really nice series from LifeAsMom on "14 Ways to be more Joyful". She points out such simple things that we can all easily do everyday but usually overlook.

"And having a good attitude — in all of life..— is a choice. Sure, there are physical and hormonal circumstances that can derail us. I don’t dismiss those. And I don’t pretend that Pollyanna never had a tough moment. But, many times when I don’t have a good attitude, it occurs at moments when I do have a choice to be impatient, to respond in anger, to raise my voice, or to feel sorry for myself. I want to be a woman who makes better choices. I want to make the days count."

"I want to be joyful instead."

Read the rest of the 14 Ways to be more Joyful series here.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Deals: Snapfish 8x11 Photobook for $6.99 shipped

Since I decided to start sharing some of my favorite deals with you guys, I thought this photobook deal from Snapfish for $6.99 (reg. $24.99) sounded good for you guys too. It would be great for you guys to start making some wedding albums for gifts (or yourself..I know it took me a good 2 years to make one for us!).

Deals: Earth Friendly Laundry Detergent on Amazon

Earth Friendly Products Ecos Liquid Laundry Detergent, Magnolia & Lily, 100-Ounce Bottle (Pack of 4)

I thought I'd start to share some especially good deals from the many money saving blogs I frequent, like (which has completely whole life really..from how I view spending money to how I take care of my home and family.)

This deal on Ecos Liquid Laundry Detergent looked especially good to me because I was just thinking this morning that I needed to stock up on some good, non-chemcially laundry detergent. I never gave much thought about the toxic chemicals in my laundry detergent before having a baby and starting cloth diapering (which I still LOVE by the way..I'm excited to do a bunch of posts on it soon!). But here's an article on some of the scary stuff in the traditional brands.

You'll need to pick the "subscribe and save" option to get the best price and free shipping. That's signing you up for regular deliveries, but you can cancel anytime. I always pick 6 month shipments to give me some time to remember to cancel.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Healthy Chocolate Muffins

Tiffany's post about baking made me want to share this awesome recipe again. I made these Healthy Double Chocolate Muffins the other day and they were soooo good. Even better than the first time I made them. The recipe is from Tiffany's blog HERE. I love this recipe because it's almost impossible to mess up as long as you follow the basic guidelines. I will put the recipe below and tell you what changes I made in red at the bottom

1 1/2 cup almond meal (finely ground almonds)

•1/4 cup spelt flour

•1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

•1 T baking powder

•1/4 tsp Sea Salt

•1/2 cup agave nectar (or other form of sugar)

• 2 whole mashed bananas

•1/4 cup organic almond milk

•2 organic eggs

•1/4 cup organic coconut oil* (warm first, it's a solid at room temp).

•1/2 tsp vanilla

•1/3 cup Dark Chocolate Chips

Grease muffin pan (makes 12 muffins)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix agave nectar, mashed banana, milk, eggs, oil and other wet ingredient. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Fold in chocolate/walnuts. Spoon into well greased muffin tin. Bake about 13-15 minutes or until the center of the muffins springs back when touched. Let cool on a wire rack. Freeze really well.

*I used:
3/4 Cup Almonds I ground in a food processor
1/4 Cup Spelt Flour
1/2 Cup Brown Rice Flour
1/4 Cup Coconut Flour (I found this at Whole Foods)

* I recommend sifting dry ingredients together

* I used 1 banana instead of 2, and it was perfect. Not too strong on the banana flavor but just enough so you know it's there.

Baking Day: Introduction


I'm going to use this blog to help me get motivated to do Baking Days again. Helps with accountability.  I've gone over the Freezing Cooking basics here already and how it helps me with preparing regular, homecooked meals and keeping our grocery budget to around $40/week. Freezer Cooking is only one part of this strategy, which also involves regular Baking Days as well as Menu Planning. I'll go over Menu Planning in another post.

What are Baking Days and Why?

I guess the name is pretty self explanatory, but on Baking Days I make large batches of homemade baked good to use throughout the month.

For months before I was pregnant I was baking pretty much everything from scratch...bread, bagels, rolls, pizza dough, english muffins, soft pretzels, pita bread, muffins, granola, granola bars, etc. and it was really fun, frugal, easy, satisfying, and everything tasted SO much better than store bought. It's so great knowing and controlling everything that's going into your baked goods..and scary when you realize how basic everything should be and all the junk added to everything in the stores.

By dedicating a few hours once or twice a month, I get the mess all over with at once and can store extras in the freezer to use in our meals. This saves a lot of both time and money and helps us stick to our $40/week grocery budget (I'll be honest, it's closer to $50/week now that I'm making homemade baby food..but still, it's pretty low compared to the national average I think!)

If you've never baked from scratch before, I'd highly recommend giving it a try, even just starting with one recipe. You can use a bread machine (which you can use to make just dough, like for bagels), the dough attachment hook for a KitchenAid mixer (my preferred method), or the old-fashion way kneading by hand (which I don't know how to do exactly. Would love to learn. I bet there are some good instructional videos on YouTube).

Here are the recipes I'm planning on making today or tomorrow (baby permitting!)

Whole Wheat Bread (x2) (that's optimistic, I'll settle for 1)   I'm still looking for the perfect wheat bread recipe. May experiment a little.

Homemade Bagels

Bread Machine Buttery Rolls

Bread Machine Cinnamon Rolls (not sure if I'll get to this..but I had a huge craving for cinnamon rolls this morning..I had to take some leftover cornbread (because we are out of regular bread) and put some butter and cinnamon and sugar on it....I swear, I have more weird cravings now than when I was pregnant)

Whole Wheat Pita Pockets

This is overly ambitious, I realize. Oh well.. we'll see how it goes!
I'll share my results in another post when I'm done, with some more instructions and tips.

I challenge you to join me in making one baked good from scratch..even muffins count (which make great freezer breakfasts by the way!). I'd love to see your results.

The Best Times to Buy Anything

This is a link to a website that lists the best time to buy things. It goes month by month and tells you when things are at their cheapest. Thought it was worth a share.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Power of a Walk

I took Koda for a long walk yesterday afternoon because he was driving me crazy.  I began the walk as I normally do, head down and a mind full of the days tasks. I just wanted to get the walk over and done with as soon as possible.  

At some point about half-way through the walk I lifted my head up and it was the first time during the whole walk that I noticed what a truly beautiful day it was.  The air was crisp and refreshing, the sky was bright blue, and the sun was so bright and crystal clear.  Instead of wanting the walk to be over as soon as possible, I enjoyed the feeling of being outdoors, and how good it felt to have my body in motion.  

I began to look at the world around me instead of the small piece of pavement directly in front on my feet.  I tried to take in the sensation of the warm sun on my face and the wind blowing the hair off my face and neck.  And the sounds of the little birdies all around me.  I couldn’t help but smile.  It was such a perfect day! How did I not notice it until now?

It made me realize how much of life is spent not noticing the little things. You hear it all the time, that "it's the little things in life that really matter".  It is so true. Then why is it so hard to notice those little things? Because they are little? Perhaps.  

I think we live our lives so caught up on the stresses of the day, To Do lists, and the countless number of other things that aren't getting done.  It causes us to live day after day not truly appreciating our lives and being stuck in a negative place... The rest of the walk I tried to clear my mind of any and all thought and just enjoyed the world around me and the beautiful day God has blessed us with!

Challenge for the weekend: Try to spend a full day appreciating all the little things in life... I read this in Whole Living magazine (Thanks again, Tiffany!). It is an Action Plan for one whole month.  It is for a complete body, soul, and lifestyle transformation; To give you a positive outlook on the world (which is what we are striving for here at SisBliss!).  Each day has something different to work on.  It could be something simple.  I really liked this... 

"Light your night. We can’t think of anything cozier than the glow of candlelight in winter. For every candle you light this evening, take a calming breath and think of one thing you’re thankful for”. 

That’s so nice, isn’t it? And there really is something about candlelight.  And this one… 

Look closely at something you haven’t seen in a while - the frost crystals on the windowpane, the hue of the tea in your mug, or the swoop of your partner’s eyelashes”. 

It’s all about slowing down, and enjoying the world around you!  Check out the rest of the action plan at

I would love to hear what “little things” you guys noticed and appreciated over this weekend!

-B Obsession

I'm completely obsessed with this new decorating website I found:

My poor science-y brain cannot visualize anything creative on its own. So, when it comes to decorating our house, I really need to find a picture I love and then copy it. The problem is actually finding that picture, my biggest obstacle..until I found this site! There are thousands of pictures of beautifully decorated rooms. You can browse by room, color scheme, or even categories like rugs and ottomans, etc. 

When we were snowed in over the holidays I spent (way too much) time browsing and copying any pictures that caught my eye into a Word document. When I scrolled through at the end, I couldn't help but notice a common "color" scheme.

See if you pick up on it too from these photos....

kitchens - subway tiles backsplash white cabinets black granite countertops glass pendnats gray slate tiles floors iron chandelier
We want to re-do our kitchen in the next year or so. I love this picture for an inspiration piece. The white cabinets with the subway tile backsplash. Black accents. I even like that light fixture over the table (something I'm in the market for now to replace our hideous 90's contemporary light).  I would do the walls in a light, warm gray (my current color obsession).

dining rooms - Benjamin Moore - Grant Beige - Wheat Silk Dupioni Silk Drapes Horchow Capiz Mirror Horchow Asian Console Macau Chair Pottery Barn Fleur de lis Rug World Market Urn Vase suzie Easter eggs tulips centerpieces place settings Asian black dining table buffet black Ballard Designs faux bamboo chairs Restoration Hardware tufted Martine chairs Horchow lamps pleated shades Crate & Barrel ruffled cake stands Z gallerie flower candle holders Pottery Barn silk pottery barn drapes fleur de lis rug

I'm really drawn to this dining room. Love the subtle gold accents contrasted with the black and white.

bedrooms - black canopy bed white bedding black throw pillow silver lamps black wood modern nightstands silver mirrors taupe gray brown walls ivory drapes ivory accent chair bedroom

Notice my color trend yet??

I scrolled through all of my favorite pictures collected from the site, I realized that ALL of them were based in black, white, beige, and gray. The only accent color I really loved was gold or natural wood accents (pretty much, gold). So, bascially..I discovered that my favorite colors for decorating are...all non-colors!

It really was a good exercise and I learned a lot about my style. I'm always trying to bring "splashes" of "accents colors" into my rooms and it never feels right. Now I know why! Just goes to show that you really need to go with what feels right to you, not what you "should" do in decorating.

I'm really feeling antsy lately to get the rooms in our house feeling settled. Not perfectly decorated, but at least at a point I'm comfortable with for now.  To me, they all still have that just-moved-in-throw-all-your-old-furniture-anywhere-it-fits-for-now feel.

I'll be sure to share my process and progress and would love your input along the way!


Friday, January 14, 2011

Living Room Updates

I know you both might be horrified that we got Lazy Boy type chairs. You guys are a little more contemporary then I am. But I really like them! They add a really cozy, comfortable, homey touch to the room. At first when Austin pointed them out I said "No way!" but that all changed the second I sat in one. They are by far the most comfortable things my bottom has ever come in contact with. Austin and I are all about comfy and cozy. Even before style. And it was either this set up or a sectional couch that Austin really wanted. I did not want a sectional! It's not that I don't like them, I just think they are so impractical. Sure it might work in this house, but what about our next one. And there will be plenty of "next ones"! So this was the compromise! Tada! Oh and I think I'm going to spray paint that gold mirror so it matches the tables. (Isn't that mirror great? It's so me!)


Digital To Do List

Immanuel found this and I wanted to share. It's a FREE "to do" list download. It's called Wunderlist. I've tried many digital "to do" lists and so far I like this one the best. On their homepage if you scroll down a little you'll see a button to download for Mac or PC. They also have a video on their homepage where they show you how to use it. It's super easy to use. I know you guys aren't into the digital stuff as much as I am but I figured I'd share anyway. And maybe someone else out there might find some use from it. Click on the link below.



Thursday, January 13, 2011

"A Day in the Life...." from: GOOP

Hey gals!

So since we have been discussing time management I thought this would be a fun blog post to share from GOOP. In the article they cover 3 very busy working women and mothers (one being Gwyneth Paltrow) and what a typical day is like and how they balance it all. It makes one realize just how much can be accomplished in one day while still giving time to your family. I'm always in awe of strong business women and how they are able to juggle so many things. So anytime I can get a little glimps into their life, or advice, I'm all over it! They also include time saving tips. The link to the site is below:


Sunday, January 9, 2011

New Year's Resolution!

I too love the idea of a new year! A fresh start! I used to think resolutions were silly, but whats wrong with wanting to focus on bettering yourself over the next year? There are many things I want to work on, but if I had to pick a "resolution", something big and most important, it would have to be time management. There are a lot of hours in the day, and I'm sure I only use a couple of those hours to get actual work done. The other hours are spent with slow mornings, talking on the phone, playing on the internet, and Oh Hey! My favorite Food Network show is on. Better sit down with a cup of tea and watch it.. If I actually used the hours in the day in a  productive way then I bet I would even amaze myself and what I could accomplish. Don't get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with relaxing. If fact I think it's an important part of every day. But what I want to work on is relaxing only at the end of the day, after I've gotten all my chores done. Otherwise I start watching TV, get lazy, and things don't get done. I know myself too well! 

I like what you said before, Tiffany. "You budget money, why not budget your time?". And I think you are absolutely right. I'm not going to be militant about my time, but I am going to try and cut down my "morning time" then give myself maybe 2 hours to get the house picked up. When 2 hours is up I need to cut myself off, get dressed and go out and either run errands or do something for myself. Why is that important? Because if I don't cut myself off from cleaning I could easily spend the entire day cleaning, easily. There is always SOMETHING that could be cleaned. The house will never be perfect. And thats something I need to accept. I really don't want to spend my entire day cleaning, but because I've turned into a bit of a neat freak it can very easily happen! I NEED to cut myself off and do something for myself or I will start to fall into a downward spiral, and think all I'm good for is cleaning the house and I have no life outside of it. It has happened before. Like I said, I know myself too well!.. I'll keep you updated on my progress!


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

2011 The Year of Organization!

                                                                   (Photo from

Hi sisters! So it's the beginning of a new year. A chance to make a fresh start! I'm normally not a big fan of new years resolutions, but I have decided that is will be the year I get organized! (Tiff I know you are already giddy with excitement about this). I think sometimes people underestimate the importance of organization... at least I did... It's one of those things where once you get organized you don't know how you could have lived any other way! It really is a conscious effort to have to make everyday. I guess I didn't realize how much work it would be! It's like reprogramming myself to think differently. Like when the mail comes I can't just throw it on the table and say "I'll get to it later" I have to intentionally stop what I'm doing and take the whole 2 minutes out of my life to sort through the mail. If I don't need it, it goes right in the recycling pile immediately. I plan on organizing every area of my life. It's a big task but I am up for the challenge, and I know my life (and Immanuel's too) will be so much more relaxed, and so much less stressful!

Tiffany, you've probably already seen this site but I thought I would share anyway. I found a good site for some getting started organizing tips. This is from Even if you already know this stuff it's good to be reminded of it. I will keep you updated on the progress of my organization :)