Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Anything Rustic - Our Mission Statement

Last week, I reopened my Etsy shop and started taking orders for my small business, once again! I had taken off some time through the holidays to enjoy our family and to also catch up on some behind-the-scenes work for the business, too. 

One of the things that I was working on during my holiday break was my mission statement for Anything Rustic. It took me many hours and a lot of soul searching to come up with this one paragraph; a single paragraph meant to capture the entire vision of my business. 

Here's what I came up with:

We are a small business and intend to stay that way, always. 

It is important to me that I stick to my roots and stay true to my own vision for my small business. This has meant having to say "no" to some offers that weren't a good fit for my vision, and at times, having to say "no" to myself when I notice that I'm drifting away from my purpose.

This business was founded in 2015 as a way to keep me stay at home with my daughter, and also, as a way to let my creativity flow. With the help of my husband, we can make just about anything rustic; which is the main reason for our name, "Anything Rustic". 

Unbeknownst to some of those who try to follow in our footsteps and start their own business from home, I must say: we have jumped through a lot of hoops, done a lot of research and spent hours upon hours making sure our small business was registered as a legitimate business; Federally and also in our State. 

While we are a very small business, we operate and follow the same guidelines and government-mandated deadlines as any other business in our area.

One of our top sellers is our handmade burlap banners, which I can often be found hand-crafting during my daughter's nap-time or after she's gone to bed for the night. 

We also offer some reclaimed wood items which aren't seen as much in my Etsy shop, but rather, showcased locally at craft shows and a local gift shop.

We make rustic signs, furniture and one-of-a-kind lamps, too! We do hope to expand and feature more of our wood items online, as we come to find the most reasonable shipping methods to do so. That is a big goal of mine this year.

I have a lot of goals for my business this year, the top goal being that I stay authentic to my own vision for "Anything Rustic" and to grow while still staying small.

Monday, January 30, 2017

When Motivation Fades

My husband and I are in Week Four of my HealthyWage Challenge and we are desperately in need of a "second wind", here. 

I was starting to feel my motivation start to fade by the end of Week Three, especially when I came to find that I had only lost .2 lbs from the week prior. Motivation doesn't last. When motivation fades, it's time to get creative. 

Last year, I made a list of 50 Reason I Want to Lose 50 Pounds. I made this list as a reminder of why I need not give up on myself. It's a good tool to bring out when I'm feeling lazy and lacking motivation.

I am going to review my list now, to give me that many more reasons why I need to keep going:
  1. I want to live a long and healthy life for myself and my loved ones
  2. I want to be there for Nick and Piper
  3. I want to feel better in my pre-pregnancy clothes again
  4. I want to look better in my pre-pregnancy clothes again
  5. I want to be able to sit on the floor without much trouble getting up
  6. I want to have less pain in my knees
  7. I want to be able to keep up with Piper in future years
  8. I want to sit with Piper on rides at amusement parks
  9. I want to feel better in my own skin
  10. I want to add years to my life, instead of take them away
  11. I want to stop having to suck it in to buckle seat belts on airplanes
  12. I want to not have to worry if a seat belt will fit
  13. I want to not have to wonder if I will fit into certain chairs
  14. I want to not have to worry about fitting in tighter spaces
  15. I want my weight to not be a burden to anyone else
  16. I want to feel more comfortable physically
  17. I want to move more freely and easily
  18. I want to be able to shop from a bigger selection of workout clothes
  19. I want to be able to shop from a bigger selection of clothes in general
  20. I want to get out of the plus section in stores
  21. I want to be able to shop at more stores for my clothes
  22. I want to not have to worry if stores will have my size
  23. I want to have less pain walking down stairs
  24. I want to have less trouble picking up my knees in jazzercise class
  25. I want to be able to move more easily in jazzercise class
  26. I want to be able to better keep up with the moves in jazzercise class
  27. I want to have more room between me and the driving wheel in cars
  28. I want to feel more comfortable in small chairs
  29. I want to be faster
  30. I want to be able to have more range of motion
  31. I want to run again
  32. I want to be free to do more exercises without pain
  33. I want to have less fat putting pressure on my bones
  34. I want to have less fat putting pressure on my organs
  35. I want to not be so winded going up and down stairs
  36. I want to have less pain in my feet
  37. I want to have less pain in my back
  38. I want to not feel the weight of my stomach on my lap
  39. I want to not have to miss out on anything because of my weight
  40. I want to be able to bend over with less trouble
  41. I want my body to feel better when I get out of bed in the morning
  42. I want Piper to be able to sit on more of my lap
  43. I want to be able to play with Piper more easily
  44. I want to stop running into things with my stomach
  45. I want my stomach to be smaller for when I have to reach for something
  46. I want to go down in dress size
  47. I want to go down in bra size
  48. I want to look more healthy
  49. I want to be more healthy
  50. I want to be more free
HealthyWage Stats:
January 6th starting weight: 254 lbs.
January 27th weight: 246.3 lbs.
Total loss: 8 lbs.

Here's to starting the week with 50 more reasons why I need to keep going. I only have 7 more pounds to lose in this particular challenge, however, losing 50 pounds this year would be ideal.

Readers, what's your ideal weight loss goal for this year?

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Make Changes to See Changes

It's been three weeks since I started my HealthyWage challenge and I am starting to see my weight-loss slow significantly. I knew this would happen. After all, I'm not doing anything different to cause a different result.

For the first two weeks, keeping track of my calories and staying within my calorie range {for the most part} was enough to provide an 8 pound loss on the scale. Now, if I want to see more weight lost, I need to add something more to my routine. I need to make changes to see changes.

I need to start exercising consistently!

Initially, I had planned to incorporate exercise in to my routine in week two or three but, I didn't.  Now that week three is coming to an end, I am starting to get antsy about it. 

I really wanted to add exercise to my routine this week but, I ended up injuring my knees in an accident I had this past Sunday. I am fine, it just took practically the whole week to recover.

I feel like I'm ready to start walking on the treadmill anytime now. To start, I am going to wake up at 6 a.m. 2 - 3 times next week, and hope to get 30 minutes in on the treadmill before Piper wakes up for the day. 

I am going to take it slow with my exercise routine and build it up over time, either by increasing the speed, or increasing the incline. I might even add some yoga or something different as the weeks go on. The key for me is to exercise consistently but change it up a bit over time.

I am excited to take this challenge to the next level and hopefully see the scale start to drop some more, soon. My third weigh-in for the challenge is tomorrow morning. I will share the results with you on Monday. Until then, have a nice long weekend!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Piper's 2nd Birthday Party - "Tea for Two"

This past weekend, our baby, Piper Grace, turned two. We had a "Tea for Two" birthday party for her, and it was so much fun!

We rented a log cabin for Piper's birthday party, and we had a lot of fun making it look pretty.

My husband helped me decorate the night before the party. We got our first-ever paid babysitter so that we could take our time and inevitably stay out way too late, working on all of the finishing touches for the party. It was a nice relaxing way to decorate and prepare ourselves for our baby's second birthday party.

I had the idea to set up our canopy in the log cabin, as a way to designate a child's play area. My husband thought of stringing lights in the canopy, and it turned out so beautiful.

Piper loved the lights, and when she first arrived at the party, she spent a lot of time just sitting under the canopy, playing with her toys and eating the marshmallows. It was so cute!

One of my favorite moments of the party was right before everyone showed up, Piper and I played "tea party", which in Piper's eyes was actually a "soup party". She calls the tea cups "soup". It's kind of funny. We probably should have called it a "Soup for Two" party.

Once everyone arrived, Piper had fun playing with all of her friends. The balloons were a big hit with the kids!

As much as Piper loved playing with the balloons, I think her favorite part of the party was when she got to blow out the candles and eat her cupcake. She made quite the mess, and we had quiet the laugh about it, too.

She's not our child at all -- haha.

The cupcakes were pretty amazing.

Piper got a lot of gifts and had a lot of fun.

I can't believe our baby, the one we never knew we could even have; the one we prayed for endlessly; the one who we almost lost in the delivery room; the one who stole our breath and hearts away with her first cries; the one who made us parents, has already turned two. 

This past weekend, we had so much fun celebrating Piper's 2nd birthday with our immediate family and friends. God is good and we are so thankful.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Tip for Tuesday: Splurge on Where You Eat vs. What You Eat

Last week, I almost ordered out and overindulged on some comfort food. 

But, I didn't.

It was a week-night, and my husband and I were both tired from a very busy day. The last thing that I wanted to do was cook dinner {sausage stir fry} but, I had no excuse not to; it was already all prepped ahead of time {thanks to my Sunday meal prepping}. All I had to do was throw the veggies and sausage in the skillet and let it cook. 

So I did.

That's when the thought came to me. Instead of splurging on what we're eating, we can splurge on where we're eating. My husband was already sitting on the couch when this idea came to mind, and I ran out to him and asked "do you want to eat dinner in the living room tonight?!", and he sighed a sigh of relief and said "yes, that sounds amazing". Something so little can be such a treat, if you allow it to be.

To give a little more background, I guess it would be good to know that unless we order out, or are eating dinner after Piper has gone to bed, my husband and I always eat dinner at the table with our daughter every night. It seems like only when we have a splurge meal do we venture out to do dinner and a movie in the living room. Those nights are a real treat, and we haven't had one of those nights in quite a while.

I believe that instead of splurging on comfort food, you can get the same effect by making yourself comfortable while you eat. If you eat dinner at the table every night, change it up! Claim the night as a "t.v. dinner night", get comfy on the couch with a blanket, and really savor the moment. 

I know that this tip might be contradictory of what some people would recommend. There is definitely something you need to be aware of here. I have found that when I routinely eat in front of the t.v., I tend to eat more out of mindlessness {like in my early 20's}. 

So, while it is true that we should be mindful when we're eating; for my own sake, I think that splurging on where I eat my dinner every once in a while, will help me to avoid splurging and overindulging on the actual meal itself.

So, last week, I ate my healthy stir fry with my family in front of the t.v. and it felt just as good as when we would order out. Sometimes it's good to just change things up.

Monday, January 23, 2017

HealthyWage's 10 Ways to Make Your Resolution Stick

This is the last full week of January. How are you doing with your new year resolutions? If you're looking for a little extra motivation on this Monday, I've got some for you right here: 10 Ways to Make Your Resolution Stick.

I joined together with HealthyWage and some of the other Top 50 Weight Loss Bloggers of 2016, to come up with a list of ways to help stick to your New Year's Resolutions. I contributed #8: Keep a Food Journal


As you'll read from my quote in HealthyWage's article, “when it comes to losing weight, I recommend keeping a food journal. Not every week is going to be a success. Some weeks, I have a gain on the scale; some weeks I have a loss. When I have a good week, I like to look back on what I ate. It’s like my own personal recipe for success!”

For the most part, I use Sparkpeople to keep track of what I eat, but I also like to use a special Instagram account "FoodOfGoalOfLosing" to share actual pictures of everything I ate throughout the day. It keeps me accountable, knowing that other people are going to see what I ate. 

I have a strict no-shame policy on my Instagram Food Journal, so don't be surprised if you see a few too many pictures of animal crackers, or dark chocolate. Indulging in a treat every day actually helps me stay on track, and helps to avoid a binge due to feeling deprived.

Speaking of staying on track, as promised, here are my weigh-in results from my second week in my HealthyWage challenge:

Base-line weight, January 6th: 254 lbs
Second weigh-in, January 20th: 246 lbs
Total weight lost: 8 lbs!

My meal plans for this week look fairly similar to last week. For a closer look on that, you can read more, here: Meal Plans. Make it a great week!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Tomorrow My Baby Turns Two

Watching your baby grow is bitter-sweet, with an extra emphasis on the sweet.

My sweet little Piper Grace turns TWO tomorrow, and we have been feeling all the feels over here. My husband and I get teary-eyed any time we talk about how big she's gotten. While we loved her in her baby stage, there is nothing more rewarding than being able to watch her grow into the little person she has already become.

Our two-way conversations with Piper are starting become even more meaningful. I love to hear her opinions on things. I also love to hear all of her questions and to get a further glimpse into the way she comprehends the world around her. She can repeat anything you say, and she comes up with a lot of new sentences on her own, already. This stage is so great!

Tomorrow, we get to celebrate Piper's second birthday with a party on her actual birthday. I love it when that happens! I can already imagine Piper enjoying her first day as a two year old, running around the log cabin we rented out for her party, surrounded by many of those who love her. I am so looking forward to tomorrow!

In the meantime, we've got a lot of last minute things to wrap up for the party and some decorating to do at the log cabin. Tonight is going to be a sweet night for my husband and I. We got a baby sitter to watch Piper, after she has fallen asleep. That way, we can go and take our time, just the two of us, to finish up all the decorating at the log cabin. 

I remember doing this same thing for my baby shower. Nick and I were up until almost midnight, taking our time on all of the final touches. When we were finished decorating, we just stood there and looked around the quiet room together in awe. The moments I remember from that night, with just the two of us, were almost surreal. We talked about where we've been, and how we got to this very moment now. It was special.

Those quiet moments are so necessary for us, at times of change. Another year has passed with our sweet girl, and I want to reflect on these wonderful times we're in, before they've too gone to pass. 

Unfortunately, I know all to well that you can't freeze time, but the closest thing I've found to doing it is to take some quiet moments to reflect and realize exactly where you are in this moment. It helps us to appreciate it all, that much more.

Tonight, will be great. Tomorrow will be even greater. Piper's party is a tea-themed brunch, so with all of the decorating done tonight, we can just wake up and enjoy the day with our newly two year old girl. We are so blessed.

The next time you'll hear from me will be Monday, where I will share my second weigh-in for my current weight-loss challenge. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Goal of Losing's Chicken Salad

Yesterday, I shared with you a recipe for breakfast egg salad. In keeping with the trend, I think it's time that I shared my own version of chicken salad, as well. 

This chicken salad recipe is made to suit my taste buds {I need to add pickles to everything these days for some reason} and it's highly addictive! 

I like to eat this chicken salad on a sandwich occasionally but, it's even better on it's own, or eaten with some pita chips as a snack.

2 tbsp. mayo
1 can chicken
1/3 cup craisens
2 sandwich-stacker pickles, diced
salt, to taste

4 servings.

Each serving is 140 calories with 8.5 grams of carbs, 6 grams of fat and 11 grams of protein!

This is another recipe that I like to food prep ahead of time, on a Sunday, and eat throughout the week. Next time though, I'll have to double the recipe because it didn't last as long as I thought it would!

The last time that I made this chicken salad, it didn't last more than two days in my house. I couldn't stop eating it! Whenever I divvy it up between 4 little containers, the chicken salad becomes the quickest and tastiest little treat!

Also, these tiny containers that I found at my local grocery store make me super happy. They are the perfect little snack-sized containers. I use them for my toddler and now as a way to portion control for myself, as well!

Readers, what do you like to put in your chicken salad?

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Breakfast Egg Salad Recipe

For Christmas, my mom got me a new cookbook. It's called "Eating in the Middle" by Andie Mitchell. This cookbook has a lot good recipes that aren't considered to be super healthy but they aren't considered to be super bad for you, either. In essence, the recipes in this cookbook fit into my lifestyle perfectly.

One of my new favorite recipes from "Eating in the Middle" is the breakfast egg salad. For some reason, before reading this cookbook, I had never thought of egg salad as a breakfast option. It's been life-changing. What a brilliant, easy and delicious idea!

savory egg salad recipe

I changed up the recipe to suit my own taste, leaving out the onions and chives but, adding pickles instead. It may sound like a weird move, but it turned out great!


6 hard boiled eggs, mashed with a fork
4 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
2 - 4 dill pickle sandwich stackers, diced
4 tbsp mayo
2 tsp mustard
salt + pepper

egg salad recipe

Mix it all together for an amazing breakfast option that lasts for a couple days in the fridge {as long as you don't eat it all, first}! I imagine this egg salad could last up to three days refrigerated but, ours never lasts longer than two, because we eat it all up that quick. 

This is a recipe that is so simple, my toddler can whip it up. It's also just as quick as it is delicious and filling. We can't get enough of it over here!

Readers, have you ever had egg salad for breakfast? Let me know if you give this one a try!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

HealthyWage - Every Day REALLY Matters

On Sunday morning, I woke up with a sore throat, stuffy nose and a headache. Ugh. I was getting sick and I know that when I get sick, I overeat. I know it's common for people to do the opposite, and not eat as much when they are sick, but I think I seek out food as a comfort thing; to try and make myself feel better. I need to work on that, which is why I'm sharing this with you.

As I was mindlessly eating to make myself feel better this past Sunday, I had a thought that stopped me dead in my tracks. I thought, "I can't do this to myself. I can't do this to my team! I am participating in a HealthyWage challenge, whether I have sick days or not. Every single day really matters right now!"

Then, I grinned to myself as I thought about what I had just said to myself again; "every single day really matters right now?". What? Shouldn't it be that every single day matters, period? So, I let myself think about that more.

Sure, it's true that every day matters in a sense that your choices define your success regardless of whether or not you're participating in a weight-loss challenge. I just think that I'm realizing it more now that I have the positive pressures of (1) an impending deadline, (2) a clear goal and (3) a team that I can't let down.

Without a deadline for my weight-loss goal, I use to tell myself that I'd do better tomorrow and continue on an unhealthy path of over-eating for basically no reason at all. It is true that if you do unintentionally go off track, you can do better tomorrow. There is a balance there; it's just that having this challenge gives me more of a reason not to go off track, if I can reasonably avoid it.

When you have a deadline to reach your weight-loss goal, you only have so many days to "make it count" toward your goal. Each day; each meal; each decision, big or small; determines your success. This is also true in general, it's just harder to realize without the pressures of that deadline.

I'm well into my second week of the HealthyWage challenge, and by participating in this challenge, I can already see where I have more incentive to stay on track. I've got money on the line, and I have a team that I can't let down. That alone makes me think more like, "this meal can either go toward my success or against it", each time I go to choose what I'm about to eat.

So, even though it is very true that every day really matters regardless; I just feel it more during this weight-loss challenge, than ever before.

Want to learn more about my HealthyWage Challenge? 

Monday, January 16, 2017

A PCOS Confession + Week One Weigh-In

Before I share my weigh-in results from my first week in my new weight-loss challenge, I need to back track a bit. There's some vital information that is missing and it's coming to you in more of a confession form than anything.

Between all of the festivities from Christmas leading up to New Years Eve, I gained 10 pounds. 10 POUNDS in just over a week! Ugh. Is that shocking? Well, let me back track a bit more. I have a condition called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome {PCOS} which makes it extremely easy to gain weight and hard to lose it. Does that make more sense now?

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not blaming all of my 10 pound weight-gain on my condition alone. I knowingly overindulged quite a bit during the holidays, but I certainly didn't give into 10 pounds worth of indulgences. That number would be due in part from the drastic fluctuations in weight that come with my condition.

So, after sharing all of that information with you, I am more pleased to share my weigh-in results from my first week of the HealthyWage challenge.

Base-line weight, January 6th: 254 lbs
First weigh-in, January 13th: 247.5 lbs
Total weight lost: 6.5 lbs!

I am so happy to see that I lost 6.5 pounds in the first week of my new challenge! Drinking all of my water {120 oz. per day} and working to stay within my calories almost every day really helped me with my weight-loss last week.

During this new week, I am going to continue to work toward staying within my calorie ranges and drink my water, every day. I have also made a plan for my meals, too.

Week 2 - Breakfast Options:
~ Breakfast burritos
~ Breakfast sandwich
~ Eggs, turkey bacon and toast
~ Smoothies

Week 2 - Lunch Options:
~ Soups
~ Salads (antipasto, etc.)
~ Chicken salad sandwiches
~ Seafood salad sandwiches

Week 2 - Dinner Plans:
Monday - Leftover Slow Cooker Pork or Burrito Bowls
Tuesday - Shredded Brussels Sprout Salad (recipe coming soon)
Wednesday - Chicken Sausage with Stir Fry Vegetables
Thursday - Homemade Pizza and Air-Fried Chicken Wings 

Week 2 - Snack Options:
~ Strawberries
~ Bananas
~ Hummus w/ pita chips
~ Blueberries
~ Raspberries
~ Smoothies
~ Grapes
~ Cheese
~ Tortilla chips and salsa
~ Dark chocolate, etc.

As I mentioned last week, in a post titled: No More Cheat Days, No more Guilt; my meal plans are flexible. If I go off track, I will just work harder on being resilient by balancing it all out with more healthy decisions the next day.

Make it a great week, everyone!

Friday, January 13, 2017

No More Cheat Days, No More Guilt

No more cheat days. Now, that's a bold statement. Of course, not every day during this weight-loss journey will go according to plan. I am sure I will have quite a few "cheat days" during my current challenge , I just don't believe in planning them ahead of time or calling them "cheat days", at all.

By calling my off-days "cheat days", it makes it sound like I'm doing something wrong. Even worse, it makes it sound like I'm on a diet. That's not what I'm all about. It's all about the lifestyle change for me and life can be unexpected at times. So, when I do have a day where I unexpectedly go over calories or when things don't go according to plan, I acknowledge it and move on.

Wednesday, for example, was an unexpected off-day or "cheat day", if you must. I didn't keep track of everything I ate and I am sure that I went over my calories. This was my first time going "off-track" during my new challenge and while I almost wanted to feel guilty about it; I didn't let myself get to that point. I just let myself enjoy what I was eating and promised that I would do better the next day. The end.

My new promise to myself is to never let guilt win. Guilt is the gateway drug to binge-eating, I do believe. Once you start telling yourself that you should feel guilty for having an off-day, that's when you open the door for the phrase "might as well give up on this day {week, month or year} now." No. No sir. I actually don't feel that way at all, and here's why I think this time is different.

The all-or-nothing mentality is gone. I fight with that mentality from time-to-time but, I need to remind myself that I'm working on a lifestyle change, and anything with the word "life" in it, must be flexible.

This is where the word "resilience" comes to mind. It's one of my 7 Focus Words of 2017, and for good reason! When things go wrong in life, successful people don't give up on life, they adapt. They are resilient. In effort to balance things out from my over-indulgences on Wednesday, I went for a walk with Piper on Thursday and kept a more close eye on what I ate throughout the day.

Yesterday's walk was the first walk of the new year and it was just the thing I needed to do to feel back on track! When I woke up in the morning, I could smell a change in the air. Even though it is still the middle of January, we have been experiencing a little winter-warm up and yesterday morning smelled just like Spring! I checked the temperature and it was 50 degrees outside. So, after breakfast, I bundled Piper up and took her for a walk down at the park.

Even though it was sprinkling rain, the walk felt great! My lungs were happy to be breathing in the fresh air, and my legs were itchy {in a good way} from the extra blood flow rushing through my veins. It was a great way to practice my resilience, too; to continue on toward my goal of living a healthier life despite my going off track the day before.

This week has been such a motivating and inspiring week for me. I am so happy to be working on a new weight-loss challenge. I am actually going to participate in my second weigh-in {the first being my base weigh-in} of the challenge, this weekend. I will share the results with you on Monday. 

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Italian Pinwheels for Antipasto Salads

When I was a teenager, I worked at a local pizza shop. I learned so many things from my time at the working there. I learned a few important life lessons and I also learned a few really good recipes; like chicken bacon ranch pizza and stuffed pizza.

We didn't just sell pizza at the pizza shop. There were wings, dinner baskets, subs and salads, too. One of the healthiest things we made at the pizza shop was the antipasto salad. We use to prep these amazing Italian pinwheels in advanced, and chop them up for the salads as people ordered them. The Italian pinwheels, as I call them, were the ingredient that made the salad!

For the first time in many years, I found myself prepping the Italian pinwheels again, only this time for our own personal use at home! Now, when we go to make our salads for lunch, we just grab a pinwheel {or two}, chop them up, toss them in and we're good to go!

In order to make the pinwheels, you'll need provolone cheese, salami and ham.

You start by laying down the salami. Stack the provolone and ham on top, then roll and stick with a toothpick.

You'll want to store these pinwheels in the fridge for at least an hour before chopping. Letting them set makes them stick together more, but if you are in a pinch, you can chop them right away. In that case, they may just pull apart {I know from my own impatient experience}.

Each roll is about 150 calories with 1 carb, 11 fat, and 11 protein. I usually use two rolls per salad.

Now, you might be wondering, can't you just chop up the ingredients without making them into pinwheels and get the same taste? Maybe, but then it wouldn't look as cute. Honestly though, it does make it taste different to me. It's like you get the perfect bite of all three ingredients each time!