Mason Jar Salad

Inspired by many clean eating posts and a craving for veggies mid-day, I put together a few mason jar salads. 

The beauty of the mason jar is that the dressing stays compacted by veggies on the bottom while the leaves stay dry up top. 

I didn’t follow a recipe – I simply added what sounded good.  I put in a little balsamic vinegar and olive oil at the bottom with salt and pepper and topped it with quinoa. I love artichoke hearts, so those went in next, followed by garbanzo beans. (I had them on my salad at the grocery store a few weeks ago and can’t believe I didn’t think of them earlier!)

I had kalamata olives, so I added those, then I topped it off with spinach.  

Altogether, a regular bag of spinach, a can of garbanzo beans and a can of artichoke hearts combined for four small mason jars – perfect to get me ready for the week. 

The result?


A pretty hardy lunch!

Don’t forget a plate though – the jar is pretty packed and it wouldn’t mix well in there.  

What are your favorite salad ingredients? Please share in the comments because I’m always looking for a new flavor!

8 Gift Ideas for a 10-Year Old Boy

‘Tis the season to give gifts.

I joined forces with some fellow hockey moms and my son to provide some suggestions, in case you also have an adorable 10-year old in want of gifts.

Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard

My son is a voracious reader, so he’s ready for Book 2, Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, Book 2 The Hammer of Thor. If you are looking for another similar series, I might suggest you research Percy Jackson and the Olympians 5 Book Paperback Boxed Set.

Spot-It

This one keeps kids occupied for hours. There is Spot It, the regular version. Of course, no self-respecting hockey family wouldn’t also have the NHL version. There’s also an MLB version, if you’re a baseball family.

Legos

Okay, this one is a no-brainer. My son is particularly interested in Star Wars right now, so I’d recommend LEGO Star Wars Resistance X-Wing Fighter. However, he also has the The Lego Ideas Book. It gives him great ideas, which also included a run out to IKEA to organize his Lego bricks by color.

Magic

Yes, magic. You might say we had a magical Thanksgiving, as my kids and my nieces put on a magic show for us. The Ideal 100-Trick Spectacular Magic Show Suitcase looks like it will provide a few more hours of fun. He already has the 4M Kids Magic Set so we know it was a showstopper.

Tensies

Another fun game, Tenzi Dice Game & 77 Ways To Play Tenzi doesn’t require a lot of thought or strategy, but make family fun night a little more exciting.

Watch Ya’Mouth

Okay, we don’t have this one. Yet. But Ya’ Mouth Family Edition, the Authentic, Hilarious, Mouth Guard Party Game looks like it’s soon going to be an addition to our family fun night. When he gets really goofy, I can’t understand my 10-year old anyway, so why not add some complexity?

iTunes

Whether your child has a phone or not (and my 10-year old definitely does not have cellular service), an iTunes gift card will get him music or the newest app to play.

An Ornament

Okay, stay with me. My friend had this idea, and I wish I’d been doing it all along. Every year, she buys an ornament for her son with something significant that happened that  year. Slowly she’s filling her tree with memories of everybody in the family. I love it. Brody has had a good year, and he scored his first travel hockey goal. I think I might go for the Goal Ice Skates Hockey Stick and Puck Christmas Tree Ornament so he can remember that milestone.

Those are just eight ideas, but there could be more. I can think of many more games we play as a family, many more books he likes to read. Please comment with any additions – what would you buy for a 10-year old boy?

Water: 3 Tips to Drink More

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How do you like your water? Hot? Cold? Room temperature?

In my journey to a healthier lifestyle, there is one ingredient I’ve used more and more: water. It keeps my skin softer, it keeps my belly fuller, and it just plain refreshes. (It helps I live in “it’s a dry heat” Arizona – I probably need a lot more water than anyone else!)

I’ve had issues in the past with water. I’ve added flavored sugar packets to help me drink more, for example. However, I’ve got three healthy ways to add more water to your day.

1. Get a SUPER COOL water container.

It has to be a container made for plain water and nothing else. (Well, I don’t need to be bossy. You do it how you like.) I have two new amazing water vessels. First up is the Hydro Flask 40 oz Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle. Yes, 40 ounces. I love it. I fill it with ice and water, and it stays cold all day. And, in fact, into the night. I know if I fill that baby twice, I am good to go for the day. The second is my Simple Modern 17oz Wave Bottle. Yes, you can buy the more expensive Swell kind. However, I found that the Simple Modern version saved me some money, and still maintained its coldness all day long. In fact, I ice and water it up, leave it in my hot car all day,  and then it’s nice and chilled for my ride home. Plus, it fits perfectly in my standard cup holder.

2.Track it.

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You know I’m a fan of Bullet Journals. So why not incorporate tracking in your planner or calendar? You can also do it in your fitness and nutrition app. Or – if records aren’t your thing – your actual water vessel can track water. For example, check out Zak! Designs HydraTrak Tumbler with Straw. For a cheap substitute, use rubber bands on your favorite water tumbler.

3. Drink it warm.

I like my water icy cold, but sometimes, it’s time to change it up. A little lemon water warmed up, or a weak tea will work for me. (I’m not a big tea person.) Tea isn’t adding calories, and doesn’t even necessarily mean you’re adding caffeine, so it’s a great addition to water. My office is so cold these days, I’m guaranteed to have a warm beverage a few times a day.

What are your tips for being hydrated? Let me know in the comments.

*This post contains affiliate tags.

It’s Not About the Running

Last week I completed the “Couch to 5K” (plan outlined here, but I used this app). Also known as #c25k.

While I couldn’t run 30 minutes – IN A ROW – when I started eight weeks earlier, it occurred to me on my last run that it wasn’t about the running. It wasn’t about whether my body could take it, or my legs would remain strong. It was completely a mindset shift.

So what does it take to run 30 minutes, besides a little physical build-up? Three things can get you through a 30-minute run.

Mind Over Matter

That’s right. It’s not a leg thing. It’s a brain thing. Roughly 10 to 15 minutes in, I have that thought … I could just walk the rest. It’s such a nice day. I’m sure I’d enjoy this lovely weather if I were going at a slower pace. After all, walking is good for you too.

And that’s when I had to shut myself down. Carrie, you can do this. You know your body can take it. You’ve got this!

I needed my mind to be stronger.

Focus on the Result

I’m pretty sure no one really loves running. As far as I can tell, the thing runners love is the feeling after the run. A little endorphin rush, a feeling of accomplishment. The continued burning of calories through the next few hours. Maybe a little bragging about your distance or your speed.

I, for one, did not enjoy the act of running. However, I could endure it 30 minutes, knowing that I’d get that accomplished glowing feeling afterward.

A Little Accountability

A little accountability goes a long way. An announcement on Facebook that I was starting… how could I let it drop? How could I let my social network see me as a failure? And best of all, my friends were encouraging me, rooting for me! Everyone loves a cheerleader, right?

So… am I running today? Not as much. Now that I know I can do it, I do it when I want to do it. Sadly, it’s dark at the time I need to run, and I’ve been struggling to make that happen. (I live in a safe neighborhood but why risk it?) As soon as I work out the mechanics of how to get an early workout in outside, I will be back at it!

Pennsylvania Pizza

I know what you’re thinking.

Pizza comes from New York, Chicago, or even St. Louis, where they have their own style. But my parents hail from Pennsylvania, and they have a particular Sicilian-style there that I just crave.

My parents just visited Pennsylvania for their 50th high school reunion. Amazing, right? And they bragged about their pizza. So naturally, I decided to make Pennsylvania-style pizza myself! (I assume they didn’t ship me any Victory Pig or Pizza Perfect.)

I found this recipe online a long time ago, and it’s not the real thing (the owners of Victory Pig called him “full of dough”), but it gives me enough flavor to enjoy it in Arizona, and it makes me happy, so I don’t care if it’s legitimate.

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I modified the recipe slightly to utilize a bread maker. (My son asked me, “what IS that machine?” – apparently I do not use it often enough!)  I enter the ingredients in the order on the recipe and then let it do its work. The dough setting takes about 90 minutes, and it’s worth not having to knead it myself!

Once it’s done, I generously oil (EVOO) a dark pan (I’m Pampered Chef stoneware obsessed, but for this, the dark pan crisps up the crust just right!)  then I stretch it out.  After it sits a bit, it’s time to top it. One more layer of EVOO right on top.

pizza-tomatoes

You start with a layer of thinly sliced Muenster cheese. (I ask the deli for the thinnest cut available.) Then you top it with thinly sliced onions, then whole canned tomatoes. I actually drain them in a bowl and break them up with my hands. Of course, salt and pepper.

pizza-preppedAnother layer of Muenster, and this pizza is ready for the oven. At 450 degrees, it takes about 20 minutes.

pizza-edge

The olive oil crisps up the edges nicely and the pizza is a combination of crispy bottom and soft insides, with salty onion flavor.

pizza-cut

Nice rectangle cuts finish the pizza and it’s ready to consume!

This time around, I just made one pizza, as it was just adults that night. When I make it for the kids, I have to make them their own pizza without onions.

I love this recipe because there really is no sauce. The oil, tomatoes, onions and cheese make their own “sauce” and the pizza is the right combination of crispy, soft and cheesy, as all pizza should be!

What’s your favorite pizza recipe? Apparently I have a bread maker I need to use more often!

PENNSYLVANIA PIZZA

Large can peeled whole tomatoes, drained and crushed
Onion, sliced very thin
Muenster cheese, sliced very thin (about 3/4 pound)
Extra virgin olive oil
1 cup warm water
2-1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 packages dry yeast, or 4-1/2 teaspoons

In a bread maker, first add warm water. Follow with flour, sugar and salt. Add yeast to the top (if you are delaying start, make sure the yeast doesn’t contact the water.) Prepare on dough setting.

Generously oil a dark jelly roll pan and stretch the dough to all edges. Allow it to rise again.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Rub oil on the crust, and top with half the Muenster cheese. Add onions then crushed tomatoes. Salt and pepper to taste. Top with remaining Muenster and bake for about 20 minutes or until edges are crisp and cheese is melted.

Serves 2 to 4, but I’d double it.

Why Bullet Journal [Part 1]

I know what you are thinking. What is a bullet journal?

Ryder Carroll, who coined the term Bullet Journal, defines it as an analog tool for a digital world.

I’ve mentioned before that, in addition to my awesome Cozi digital tool, I keep a written journal to keep me sane. There are many reasons to bullet journal, but I have primarily three reasons:

  1. Highlight What’s Important
    Digital is not enough, and mapping out my month, week and day, keeps what’s important at the forefront of my schedule. Historically – just ask my husband – I have a great schedule, but I never look at it. Or I look at it as it hits my schedule, rarely planning ahead or I see an important event like a birthday or anniversary the day it happens. With a daily, weekly, monthly mindset, I’m hoping those days are over.
  2. Art Happens
    I need a creative outlet, and I’ve found that even when I’m messy, bullet journaling is a great exercise in art. It can be as simple as using a different color for each title. It can be as little as changing up my handwriting, or laying out a page in my head before I begin. I knit, but I never have enough time to knit. This gives me a creative outlet in pursuit of continuing to be productive.
  3. The Index
    Bullet journaling keeps me organized: I have pages for each subject and I can index them from the front of the book to find them. Each weekly also gets indexed, so I don’t have to guess how far it is into the book to find it. And my bullet journal has multiple ribbons to hold my place, helping me find the daily schedule.

Historically, I’ve been a standard planner girl. Sadly, I have planner pages dating WAY back sitting in my office. I can literally tell you what meetings I had seven years ago. But back then, if I took notes in a meeting, I needed to know the date of the meeting to find the notes.

Not today. I keep a page for each employee, so as we have one-on-one meetings, I can keep my thoughts contained for them, and I’ll add things to the list so we’ll discuss it on our next meeting.

I keep subject-matter pages, like, for example, possible blog topics!

I also keep a page on goals, so I can frequent it and see how I’m doing.

How to Get Started

It’s easy. You just start. Any notebook will do. And you basically create the layouts – monthly, weekly or daily – that work for you.  (More on that in the next productivity blog.)

I’m three attempts in. I started with a Moleskine quad-ruled notebook. It had many benefits, starting with I already had it so I could start right away. It is small and thin, and easily fit in my purse. (I decorated it myself with stickers on the outside; I’m sorry, it does not come in Jayhawk.) The squares made lines easy, and I could center content or evenly space days. As it turns out, it was just a bit too small, and it was just a few weeks before I’d filled it in completely!

oldj-weekly

Attempt #2 sent me back to my Erin Condren LifePlanner ($10 off using this link). I love Erin Condren because she makes it so EASY to be creative, offering stickers and built-in headers. However, I have a LOT going on. A lot. I can honestly say two pages just doesn’t do it for me. Sure, my schedule and some goals and maybe a few to-dos can go in there. But no notes, and I am a note taker. So, I tried to make it work as long as possible before I caved.

planner-sept

My final (or, at least, most recent) attempt is the Leuchtturm 1917 dotted-grid notebook. I’m loving it. It’s clean, and the grid isn’t in the forefront. It’s still small enough I can drop it in my purse.

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I love how clean it looks.

I’ve been experimenting with different layouts and my next blog will talk about how to really bullet journal.

America, the Beautiful

About eleven years ago, I relocated with my family to the west. At the time, I’d been  used to the rolling plains and sunflowers of Kansas, and the beautiful skyline of Kansas City. We’d take trips to the green, lush Lake of the Ozarks. Upon arrival, I had very little appreciation of the desert.

Sure, it was nice to see mountains. (Excepting Mt. Oread in Lawrence, Kansas, I was generally not used to seeing any height in the distance!) But I truly didn’t appreciate the varied landscape.

Fast-forward to today. I have a few international trips under my belt, and I’ve seen a bit more of the country. I have had numerous trips to California, Nevada and Mexico, and have begun to see beauty in the desert.

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The desert landscape can vary from cactus to Joshua tree to green mountains and snow-capped mountains. (By the way, I call Joshua trees Dr. Seuss trees, because they remind me so much of the ones in his books.)

desert-prisma5And then I discovered this very cool app called Prisma. (All images within the blog, except the header original photo, are from Prisma.) The way it turned each image into art just made me further appreciate the landscape I see every day.

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And it’s not just the desert as art.

The beauty of the United States of America is astounding. Truly from the prairies to the mountains, Americans have the ability to experience snow or beaches, or oceans or lakes.

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Having traveled a little (certainly not enough) through Europe, I have even greater appreciate for the diversity that is our American landscape. I know Americans travel abroad to experience new things, but I also know I haven’t seen all of the USA either.

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It’s a beautiful thing that we can get so many landscapes in one beautiful country.

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And on this day particularly, Patriot Day, I am grateful for all that America provides in its beauty and potential.