Monday, June 23, 2014

BLT Lettuce Wraps

I woke up early last Saturday morning and took a trip to the farmer's market. I ended up buying some fresh romaine lettuce leaves, tomatoes, nitrate-free bacon, chicken eggs, and some zucchini. By the time I made it home, it was almost lunchtime and I was starving. So I figured I would whip something up with the ingredients I'd just purchased.
 
Enter BLT Lettuce Wraps. They're as simple as their names sound. I washed the lettuce and tomatoes, let them dry on a paper towel and then coated the tops of the lettuce leaves with a thin layer of mayonnaise. To each leaf I added a sliced (lightly salted) tomato and a slice of bacon. (If you want to add a little bit of shredded Parmesan for extra flavor you can.)
 
Then, I rolled them up into little wraps, securing each one with two toothpicks. They ended up looking something like this.
 
Simple enough, right? And they have such a nice, crisp taste. If you're getting tired of salads every day or want to opt for something light with a lot of flavor, I'd highly recommend trying these out!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Hospital Get-Well Gift Basket Ideas

Good morning, y'all! As you may remember, one of my best friends Lisa is in the hospital after a serious rock climbing accident that happened two weeks ago. She spent four days in ICU, was then moved to a hospital room on the trauma floor, and is now preparing to be transferred to a rehabilitation facility closer to home.
 
That said, she's received numerous cards, balloons, flowers, etcetera. As much as these gifts show that people are concerned about her and love her, I can only imagine she's in need of some items that she can actually use during her hospital stay.
 
So I got to thinking.. perhaps a gift basket would be useful. I searched the internet for ideas, but I didn't really find very much in the way of gift baskets for patients recovering in the hospital (aside from the gift baskets for new mothers, which tend to focus on baby gifts). Nevertheless, I jotted down a few ideas of some things that Lisa could use, and set to work making my own gift basket for her.
 

{1} Snacks -- chips, crackers, granola bars, small water bottles, mints, nuts, candies, etc. Almost anything small that doesn't need to be refrigerated can apply here. Fruits such as apples, bananas, or oranges would probably be fine as well. This obviously only applies when the patient doesn't have any kind of dietary restrictions, so if you're unsure, it's best to ask before including these in the basket. Keep in mind that the snacks are also geared towards the family members who are staying with the patient.

{2} Cosmetics -- mascara, chapstick, nail polish, nail file, a small hairbrush, dry shampoo, hair ties, a small mirror etc. These really only apply to females, but I think it's a category that is important. When you're stuck in a hospital room for days at a time, having a little bit of makeup available can make all the difference. Something as simple as a little bit of mascara or lip gloss can make you feel much more put-together and ready to greet visitors. This may be a little bit more of a Southern concept, but I do vividly remember visiting my great aunt in the hospital after her heart attack, just days before she passed away, and even then she had her lipstick perfectly applied.

{3} Hygiene -- tissues, lotion, eye drops, deodorant, face wipes, hand sanitizer, mouthwash, etc. These are great items to include in the basket, and it's easy to just pick up some of the smaller products from the travel section of the pharmacy. Even if these don't get used during your loved one's hospital stay, they'll probably use them at a later time.

{4} Entertainment -- earphones, phone charger, magazines, books, crossword puzzles, playing cards, DVDs (if your patient is back at home or has access to a DVD player), a photo album (this is a great one), etc. Sometimes people forget how much time hospital patients spend confined to their beds with nothing to do. Giving them any of these things will not only help with their boredom, but will assist in keeping their minds off any physical pain they may be feeling.

{5} Miscellaneous -- coffee mug, socks, blank note cards (if they're looking at a longer stay or they want to get an early start on writing thank-you notes), notepad and pen, safety pins (I'm of the school of thought that you can never have too many safety pins), a small battery-operated fan, cold compress, eye mask, pillowcase (I don't know about you guys, but hospital pillowcases make me nervous..), etc. These items really depend on the person, and it's always nice to add your own individual touch to the basket when you of certain things your loved one would appreciate.

In the future, I think these may be my new go-to in lieu of flowers, cards, or balloons. A gift basket is a much more useful and thoughtful way to show someone you care. How about y'all? Any other suggestions for these hospital gift baskets?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The American Tobacco Trail

Let's lighten up the mood a little bit with a recap from a recent hike I took with my cousin and my brother.
 

Cousin K finds the strangest places for pictures. I'm a little jealous.

My little bro and me.

This pretty much sums up our relationship.
 

Time to show off our air-bound skills.
 

He really got some air on that one..
 
But he couldn't quite stick the landing.
 
I, on the other hand, would rather have my feet on the ground.
So my "high-flying" picture really just makes me look like
I'm riding an invisible bike. Still pretty cool.
 
We're really getting involved with nature today.
 
Some things never change.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

As I'd mentioned before, I recently took a trip to Nashville to visit some friends from college. I managed to book my trip so that I had an extra day to tour the hot spots around Nashville since I'd never been there before. My first stop was the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum downtown. Even if you're not a fan of country music, I highly recommend you take the time to visit this museum if you have the chance. Since I ended up taking so many pictures while I was there, I figured I'd share some of them with you guys.
 

 
Glenn Campbell's wardrobe.
 
Elvis Presley's piano. According to this article, the piano is up for sale and may be leaving the museum soon.
The 24-carat gold piano is expected to be sold to a Japanese investor.
As a side note, the Japanese are the number one collectors of Elvis memorabilia. Interesting, right?

Ah, Patsy Cline. By far the greatest female country singer to ever grace the stage.
Elvis Presley's cadillac. Is it just me, or does this remind anyone else of a hearse?
 
 
That's quite a suit.
I don't know what this is. I wasn't really paying that much attention. I'm distracted by shiny things.
The dress Carrie Underwood wore to her induction into the Grand Ole Opry
 

 
George Strait and Reba! Two of my faves!
 
Let's play a game. Can you recognize any of these country greats?
From the left: Dolly Parton and Portor Wagoner, Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn,
and George Jones with Tammy Wynette.
They just don't come any classier than that..
I stand corrected.
Miranda Lambert had her own temporary set-up. I loved seeing all her dresses on display,
and it's crazy to see how small she actually is!
The car from Smokey and the Banditt II.. I guess it's kind of impressive, if you're into that sort of thing.
(Clearly I'm not.)
 
Now THIS was the cool part. Here's where the actual Hall of Fame was.
These plaques were eerily similar to the winners' faces. I'm not so sure I would want my face molded into a piece of metal.
Nonetheless, this was a pretty neat display.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Intermittent Fasting Update: Week 5

I know, I know.. I've been terrible about keeping up with my blog lately. These few weeks have been pretty busy, but hopefully things will calm down soon.

So, I know you're all just dying to hear about my results from Intermittent Fasting ("IF"). I started this experiment on May 1st and have been keeping up with it pretty well ever since. Basically, I eat normally four or five days out of the week (several of these days have involved pizza, ice cream, etc.) and then fast for the remaining two or three.

Common sense dictates this wouldn't have a huge impact on my weight if I'm still eating whatever I want on non-fast days, right? Well, apparently common sense is wrong.

Since I started one month ago, I've gone four weeks with incorporating roughly 11 fast days interspersed throughout. On fast days you actually are allowed to eat, but you have to keep your daily intake under 500 calories. And as it turns out, the more you fast, the more you a) enjoy fasting, b) don't feel hungry, and c) can go longer without food.

Surprisingly, I actually have to FORCE myself to eat on the non-fast days. You would think that, given free rein to eat whatever I want on "feast" days, I'd totally pig out. But I really just don't have the desire to do that. I've started making a conscious effort to take in more calories on the non-fast days, and by being conscious about what I eat.. I've been able to choose foods with more nutritional value.

My hairdresser hadn't seen me in eight weeks (damn straight I get my hair done every six to eight weeks.. it takes work to keep this mane looking fabulous), and when I saw her yesterday she commented on how much weight I'd lost. It's nice to have people who KNOW you're on a diet to comment on your progress, but for someone who didn't even know I was trying to slim down to say she could tell that I'd lost "a lot of weight".. that's just proof in the pudding (so to speak) that I'm on the right track. She wanted to know what I was doing, so I laid out the IF diet plan for her, and she dismissed it automatically with "oh, yeah, I could never go without eating".

It's such a shame to hear so many people look down on fasting without giving it a try or understanding the positive effects it has. I'm so tired of people saying I'm going about weight-loss in an unhealthy way or that I'm just going to "gain it all back" when I go off this diet. First of all, I'm not starving myself.. fasting is a healthy way to cleanse your body, trigger the fat-burning process, and re-adapt your mind to understand your poor eating habits. Also, I don't plan on quitting this "diet" anytime soon. I'm going to keep on losing the weight until I hit my goal, and then I plan to maintain my weight by fasting only one day per week.

For those who are still curious about this whole thing, this documentary, called "Eat, Fast, Live Longer", was the one that spurred millions to start living the intermittent fasting lifestyle, and by proxy almost everyone who has adapted to this way of eating has lost weight, decreased their risk for stroke, heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancers, improved their cholesterol, improved their cognitive function, increased their energy, obtained better sleep habits, and have just improved their quality of life overall. If you don't want to attempt something you believe to be so drastic (I can assure you, it's not), I understand. But the documentary is one of the best I've ever seen, and it's worth a watch. It has absolutely changed my life, and that's not something I say lightly.

Anyhoo, on to the RESULTS! I'm in my fifth week of IF, and so far I've lost 10 pounds. Since a healthy weight loss is 1-2 pounds per week, I'm doing pretty well for myself! And to think that the majority of the weight I've lost is pure fat.. that's just unbelievable. Ten pounds is equal to two bags of flour. Good grief, that sounds like a lot!

Unfortunately, I never took my measurements before beginning this experiment, but I can tell you that my clothes certainly fit better and people are beginning to comment on the recent changes in my size. I'm documenting my weight loss with pictures, which I'll post throughout my updates.

Have any of you ever lost weight by altering your eating habits? If so, have you been able to keep the weight off permanently? I'd love to hear about it!