Sunday, February 26, 2017

What I've Been Reading Lately: February edition

I've read 2.5 books so far in February. Not the strongest reading month, but that is because I am reading a lot of technical material for the personal training continuing education units.

Notorious RBG by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik

This fulfilled part of my quest to read books about interesting women this year. Ruth Bader Ginsburg has lived an amazing life and I enjoyed learning more about her career, family, and even her fitness routine! If you're feeling extra feisty and feminist post the 2016 election, pick this book up!

Radical Beauty by Deepak Chopra, M.D. and Kimberly Snyder, C.N.

Authors Chopra and Snyder covered so many topics I love in this title: Internal and External Nourishment, Beauty Sleep, Primal Beauty, Movement, and Spiritual Beauty. The material is presented in an accessible and interesting way. 
The book features colorful photos of delicious food and scenery! 

I especially enjoyed some of the DIY beauty tips and cleaning product recipes. I tried the apple cider vinegar rinse on my hair and appreciated the clear instructions since I had never done a rinse before.

If you are looking for a comprehensive guide on approaching beauty the natural way, I highly recommend Chopra and Snyder's book!

Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

I'm just over about 40% through A Case Against Sugar by Gary Taubes. I read Taubes's Why We Get Fat, which I was on the fence about. I have felt the same way about his latest title too. Don't get me wrong, he includes a lot of interesting information about the sugar industry and diabetes. Perhaps it's that I have read a lot about sugar consumption in the past and most of what I have read so far in this title isn't that new to me. I am hoping I get more into this as I near the halfway point. If you are not that familiar with why sugar is so toxic and need encouragement to stay away from it, I think you would like this title.

What I stopped reading:
-The Genius of Birds. Despite the fact that I love birds and wanted to love this book, I got about 30% through it and had to quit. I wasn't in love with the author's writing style and simply couldn't get into it. I was really surprised to see that it is pretty highly rated on Amazon.

Monday, February 20, 2017

My Everyday Life [Week 7]

Here's my week 7 recap!

Finally purchased the non-dairy Ben & Jerry's and it is delicious! I am on a mission to find more flavors now.
I got a few good workouts in at home. I had a lot of energy to burn last week.
A beautiful sunset!
I like using our iPad to motivate me with fitness videos. 
I finally passed one set of French tutorials and moved onto a second set now! Yay for moving past bonjour and dauphins.
I discovered the Memrise app and started to use that in addition to Duolingo. It's nice to have two different style foreign language apps to experience each day.
My favorite snack last week. My first time trying those rice chips and they are delicious. I am obsessed with that Hope sriracha hummus. It's so damn good, especially on sandwiches.
It was also my first time trying coconut milk yogurt. It wasn't as good as greek, but if I want to go vegan soon I have to substitute yogurt with a vegan version from time to time.
This chili was pretty good. It's better with a little shredded cheese and sriracha on top.

Two of the three boys chilling in the sun on a gorgeous and warm Saturday in February. It was over 60 degrees here! 
I had a coupon for Panera, so I ordered a fabulous Roasted Beet, Quinoa, and Citrus Salad to pick up on Saturday afternoon. I really loved this combination.
I got out my parents' old espresso machine and tried to make an almond milk latte. I did ok with the espresso part, but frothing the milk failed both times I attempted to steam it. I wish those electric steamers weren't so expensive! I did some troubleshooting and watched so many YouTube videos. I think I might need to give the steaming parts a good vinegar soak to get them really clean.
After Craig did a lot of research, we finally purchased a Bissell Crosswave to clean our wood floors, tile, and rugs. While it didn't get all of the stains out that we wanted it to, it did give the floors a really nice cleaning. I'll probably share more about it in a future Costco purchase post.
We took lots of walks in the warm weather, I finished Notorious RBG, and I studied and took a quiz to earn some CEUs.
Overall, a really good week!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Costco Hits and Misses, Part I: Groceries

I'm a big Costco fan and go there quite often! Here's what I typically buy and why I love the store. I'll break this post down into two parts since I have so much to cover! This week, I'm focusing on groceries. 


Silk Original Almond milk. At $2.79 a carton, this is a pretty good deal. It comes in a three pack.
Coffee beans. I love their Kirkland brand and at $9.99 a bag, it's a great deal. I also like the Cameron Organic Velvet Moon blend, which you can get for a similar price.
Dave's Killer bread. After hearing about this brand on other blogs, we finally tried it! I am happy to have found a bread that both Craig and I like. It toasts well, is great for sandwiches, and the ingredients are healthy.

Fresh raspberries. I switch between buying organic (even though I know they're in the dirty dozen category) and conventional, depending on the price. Costco's organic produce is usually fairly priced.

Frozen berries. Their prices on frozen organic berries/fruit are unbeatable. This big bag of organic raspberries cost me $12.99. Sadly, they are not carrying this again.
Red grapefruit cups. I love grapefruit, but dislike peeling the actual fruit and the rind that comes with it. I always feel like I never get enough of the actual fruit pieces to eat. That is why I keep purchasing these red grapefruit cups to take in my lunch. I simply empty out the syrup and eat it.
Quinoa and kale. I found this in the frozen section and it's a great base for a work lunch. I usually just add chickpeas and spices to it.
Morning rounds. I used to buy these more often when they were the Cranberry Orange flavor pictured below. They switched to Muesli flavor and it's just too boring for me. My mom still loves them. They were a nice quick breakfast to toast up or warm up in the microwave. I also liked putting almond butter on top for a little protein.
Pizza. Most of their vegetarian frozen pizzas are a fair price per pizza. This flavor was delicious, but sadly the lady handing out samples of this last time I was there said they were no longer going to carry it.
Juice. Craig's the juice drinker in this house. That's not to say that I don't pour myself a glass from time to time, but I know it is better to eat fruit than drink it. I do love adding a little of this juice to a smoothie, which makes it instantly delicious!

Coscto seems to switch up the juice flavors they have pretty regularly. I was buying a Naked green juice for Craig for a while and then that disappeared from the store.
Nuts. Craig says I have a nut problem, ha ha! But, he's kind of right. Since I am a vegetarian, I tend to eat handfuls of nuts at home or at my work desk to get a little protein and fat. Their prices are fantastic, especially for the pistachios. I usually get that big bag for around $15.

Now onto some misses. I probably should have taken advantage of Costco's fabulous return policy and just brought back any items I didn't like, but I always feel weird about doing that when I've tried some of the product.


Kirkland Organic Hummus. These are the perfect snack size containers, so I thought they would be great for lunches. I usually am not that picky about hummus, but this one is too garlicky for me and the flavor is just blah. I also don't like how much plastic is wasted with these little containers, so I guess I'll just stick to making it myself or buying bigger containers from now on.
Vegetarian frozen meals. While I love most of the vegetarian frozen meals I find at my store, we have felt that recent selection has been disappointing us. We used to buy frozen Indian samosas that came with an amazing cilantro chutney. Now those come with meat samosas, so I can't buy the product anymore. It is always nice to have a few frozen meals in bulk for Craig and I to take to work when we have prepared a meal. I'll keep hoping my store improves in this area.

Furniture. While I think they have wonderful prices on furniture, the selection isn't always that appealing. They tend to carry very dark wood tables, dressers, etc. in their stores. I'm a big fan of white furniture, so maybe it's simply my opinion. Online is a different story though--they do have a wider selection there. I am not sure some of their prices are that discounted on furniture items.

Inconsistency. As I mentioned above, the inconsistency with products is a little disappointing. I think this is normal for any store, but just when I start to love a product, it seems like Costco no longer stocks it.

Overall, I have to say that I have been extremely happy with the customer service and cleanliness of the stores in our area. Their cashiers are always friendly and quick. I never feel like I have to battle with anyone at the return desk (well there was one incident with a price match).

Are you a Costco member? Please list some of your favorite items below if you are! I love peeking into other people's carts and seeing what they like to buy, so this is sort of a virtual way to do that!

Monday, February 13, 2017

My Everyday Life [Week 6]

I finally subscribed to VegNews! I was always impressed by the magazine when I glanced through it at bookstores. Lots of great info in this first issue!
Loved this flavor of kombucha. It really tasted like coca-cola! I'm getting into trying different brands and flavors. I even saw that my local Costco carries a pretty popular brand and the price was decent.
I setup a little workout area in our half-exposed basement room a couple of weeks ago. It's been nice lifting weights and doing some yoga in my own house vs. a gym. I used this video from FitnessBlender as a warmup and recommend it!
A post-workout smoothie bowl was in order!
The little rascals got into my bows and wrapping paper. Shiva was especially anxious to get it back from me when I took it away. They seem to have lots of naughty nighttime and early morning adventures lately!

We enjoyed falafel sandwiches, delicious baklava, and tabouleh at a new Middle Eastern restaurant on Wednesday. We just kept buying more and more food because 10% of the sales went to my nephew's school.
I tried both flavors of these new oatmeal cups from Trader Joe's last week. They were delicious and not too sweet at all. 
I did some studying for a NASM balance training course on Saturday morning. The information was pretty similar to what I learned for my personal training certificate, so I managed to pass the test and earn 0.3 CEUS! Now I just need to study for the remaining credits from an ACE course so I can renew my certification for another two years. 

We ventured over to 'Stallis on Saturday afternoon to get some food and take care of some other business in the area. Craig got his favorite sub sandwich and brought it along to where I wanted to eat, the West Allis Cheese & Sausage shoppe. 
It was our first time at this location and we enjoyed the atmosphere. They had advertised raclette on their Facebook page and I was excited to see that a local restaurant carried it! I had it at street fairs in Switzerland a couple of times and missed the unique flavor.
I made some roasted chickpeas topped with olive oil garam masala, and a little sea salt. They were a nice addition to kale salad. 
I decided to stop reading a so-so book and downloaded two new ones from the library. I am loving Notorious RBG so far. I knew her story would resonate with me.
I experimented with the manual setting on my DSLR a bit. The photos I took turned out ok.
 More experimenting on a few of my favorite subjects, the cats!
We ended our weekend with a nice winter hike in the windy yet sunny weather. It felt wonderful to get out in the fresh air!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

My Everyday Life [Week 5]

Week five coming at ya!

A typical scene most weeknights.
I consumed a lot of smoothies this week. I wanted to change things up a bit, so I made one of them a bowl.
 Waiting for an oil change. A hot chocolate and Jamie Dornan on TV made waiting pleasant.
I say this all the time. Is that weird? Apparently it's not too strange since someone made a sign with the quote!
My co-worker always has a funny quote to share. One of my favorites is "my cat is a millennial." Another co-worker wrote this one down and put it on my computer since Brenda said it after I had already left for the day. It started my work day out with a laugh.
 Reading magazines by the fire at the library makes me happy.
Tofu and avocado sandwiches were on repeat. We've been loving Dave's Killer Bread from Costco. I think I'm going to a do a Costco favorites post soon and share it in there.
 I finally got my desk ergonomics sorted out at work. I only wish I had done it sooner.
Craig and I shared the tortilla soup at Qdoba. It's so good!
Spent Saturday night watching this movie. I really liked it! I am a big fan of foreign movies. 
Fun times can always be had at Target!
I'm pretty sure I need this coloring book in my life. Especially since our current President is not making America great. Cats can though. Cats always make everything better.
Shiva basking in the sunshine at our patio windows. 

The week ended with a sunny Sunday, which was much needed and appreciated. We enjoyed a chill weekend filled with some cleaning, time with the kitties, catching up with my brother in France via Facetime, and running errands together today. 

Sometimes I look back and see what I was doing in week 5 last year and I noticed a couple of similarities to this year! I was talking about appreciating the sun and how I had some gut issues. Well, I didn't feel great yesterday either and sometimes I do think my gut problems affect me at certain times of year. I've been trying to eat healthy and also drink lots of kombucha to get some good bacteria in my gut. I think I should go back to consuming probiotics on a more regular basis, especially since I haven't been eating as much yogurt as I used to. 

Hope you have a great week!