the week in review and some fashion friday.

I cannot believe that it is already Friday and even more, that it is already May 20th!  Its been a bit of an up and down week for me emotionally, where I had a little bit of a gain on the scale, but I had some other non-scale victories that I really need to remind myself are important too.  This was espcially important to do last night when I was in a bad mood and ready to spend a completely unnecessary $500 which I do not have on jcrew.com, haha.

Earilier in the week, I dragged my butt to the gym despite it being completely rainy and dreary outside and having no motivation:

I also recreated one of my favorite sandwiches from a local restaurant:

Chicken salad made with light mayo in a wrap with dried cranberries, mesculin greens, and grapes.  So incredibly yummy with a side of fresh strawberries!

I didn’t do anything particularly exciting other than work and see a few of my friends who have arrived home from school! I can’t believe its been four years since we graduated high school and undergraduate is over for most of them… its so weird. However, I am happy to see their beautiful faces :)

This week, fashion friday consists of celebrating some old outfits that were not fitting and now do again! I took the plunge and after much uncertainty, decided it was time to get rid of a bunch of clothes that were too big. My mom and I both sold them back to the used clothing store, The Clothes Mentor and we made about $70 together.  I don’t think that is too bad!

Here are a couple of outfits that I wore which I was excited to fit in once again:

Wednesday (for work)


White Eyelet Dress — Banana Republic
Purple Earrings — Banana Republic
Silver Flats — Fossil
Purple Stone Headband (kind of hard to see) — JCrew

Black Criss-Cross Shirt — Banana Republic
Green Cargo Capris — GAP
Shimmer Silver Necklace — Banana Republic
Black Gladiator Sandals — Macy’s (I think the brand is Dolce Vita)

and for this rainy muggy day today, I wore:

 White & Blue Striped Shirt — Banana Republic
White Tank — Old Navy
Matchstick Jeans — JCrew
Diamond Earrings — 21st Birthday gift
Silver Necklace — Banana Republic
White Headband — JCrew

I had the day off from work, so I took a ride up to Saratoga to spend the afternoon with one of my favorite bloggers! Post to come tomorrow with more details :)

I hope you all have a wonderful Friday and enjoy the weather if its nice where you live <3

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mental roadblocks

I have been struggling a lot the past two or three weeks with the mental roadblocks that come with losing weight.

I’m reaching this point where a lot of my clothes are too big on me or fitting me really awkwardly. The problem is that I’m really in between sizes… especially in tops.  I feel really unattractive because of my clothes fitting oddly and that despite losing twenty three pounds, I still struggle to see myself as twenty three pounds lighter when I look in the mirror.  Two nights ago, my mom and I finally went through my closet and pulled out 2 piles of clothes that are too big on me:

That is the pile that I’m going to be selling to a used clothing store.  However, I have a large amount of anxiety about actually getting rid of these clothes.  I constantly fear that what will happen if I gain all my weight back and don’t have these clothes to fall back on. They are like a security blanket that I’m terrified of losing.

I used to not understand how when people lost a decent amount of weight, they couldn’t see how great they looked and why they had all of the same insecurities from when they were heavier.  There is this fear of not only disappointing yourself, but also that you will prove people right that you aren’t meant to be “thin” and eventually gain the weight back.  I’m trying really hard to get past all of these insecurities, but its certainly proving harder than I ever imagined.

However, it is Friday, so maybe I should do a fashion friday post like many blogs do?  Here was the outfit today:

Cardigan: JCrew
Striped Tank: JCrew
Jeans: GAP (always skinny fit)
Necklace: JCrew
Bag: Banana Republic

The yellow cardigan is probably my favorite summer weight one that I own, I just love bright yellow! It really goes with almost any color and makes your outfit so much happier and exciting.

The past few days since finals ended have been filled with work and trying to make money, but on my breaks I did enjoy a little bit of leisure time.

I found the book Something Borrowed in our gigantic bookcase full of books and read it quickly yesterday because I really want to see the movie.  I didn’t even know we owned it, but there are some great advantages to having a mother in publishing who gets free books all the time :)

I also of course found time to bake.  I made my favorite funfetti cupcake recipe and just tinted the frosting pink and used pretty cupcake liners.


I really love the edible pearl decorations, I think they make all baked goods look so much classier.

Well its Friday night, and I’m e-x-h-a-u-s-t-e-d. I’ve been feeling a bit under weather because of all the stress and I think that perhaps the answer is a night home alone by myself.

Have a wonderful Friday <3

How do you deal with stress and insecurities?

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carrot cake cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

When I was little I wouldn’t eat carrot cake because it had carrots in it. Have I ever mentioned I was one of those terrible children that hated vegetables and tortured my parents with my constant desire for chicken fingers and french fries?

Don’t get me wrong, I love me some greasy and delicious fries still, but I’m also very glad I have expanded my food choices by leaps and bounds.

I do now really enjoy carrot cake, but cream cheese frosting? Not my favorite.  No idea why, seeing as I love cream cheese and frosting, but together? Its just not my cup of tea.

However, this frosting is rather exceptional for someone who doesn’t love cream cheese frosting.

Make these.  They are incredibly easy and very tasty.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Dry Ingredients
2 cups flour
1½ tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking soda
2 cups sugar

Wet Ingredients
4 eggs beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
¾ cup vegetable oil oil
3 cups of finely shredded carrots

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together dry ingredients. Add vanilla and oil to eggs and whisk together.  Then add carrot. Mix dry ingredients with wet ingredients until combined. Bake cupcakes for 20 to 25 minutes (check them at 20 and evaluate if they need more time!).  Let completely cool before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting
1 stick of butter, softened
1 8-oz. pack of cream cheese, softened
2 to 3 cups confectioner’s sugar (depending on how sweet you want the frosting)
1 tsp. of vanilla

Beat the cream cheese until smooth.  Add stick of butter and beat until both are combined and smooth.  Add vanilla and sugar and beat until fully incorporated.

*I double the frosting recipe in order to have enough, plus a little extra to frost 24 cupcakes.  I always say better to have too much than too little :)

 

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fighting the spring time blues

I know it sounds unusual, but I always get sad right around this time every single year.  Its kind of an odd time of year to feel down because the sun is out, spring is in the air, and the winter seems to be far behind.

However, I just can’t fight my sad feelings some days.

I binged tonight. Badly.

I haven’t done this in a few months, and it brings some sort of comfortable yet uncomfortable feeling inside of me.  It almost makes me nostalgic in a weird way.

If you’ve never binged eaten, and I mean literally binge where you just put food in your mouth to feel something but not taste anything, you’ll know the downward feeling that comes after the high of binge eating.  I’m there right now. I just feel… failure.

I think what I’ve learned the most over the past few months while losing weight is that regardless of what my current weight may be, I’m always going to struggle to not binge.

And now I’m sitting trying to take a deep breath and remind myself that things are okay.

I know that I’m not perfect, but I know that I’m no where near the emotional wreck I was two years ago.

I’m okay, I’m okay, I’m okay.

(pictures taken from Albany Tulip Fest 2011)

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Rewarding yourself.

I realized that last week that when I had announced I hit my twenty pound weight loss, it also meant I hit my first goal and small reward.  While I had originally said I wanted to buy an iPod shuffle, I began to become aware that I really wanted something else more once I hit my first goal: new clothes.

For anyone who knows me, its no secret I have a bit of a shopping problem and a ridiculous amount of clothes. While I am very happy that I am fitting into clothes in my closet that I have not been able to wear in two years, I still had an overwhelming desire to reward myself with some new ones at a smaller size.  Unfortunately, money was a bit tight this week, so my mom helped me purchase about half of the new things I bought.

I bought a few adorable things (at great deals!) at JCrew:

yellow long-sleeve cardigan, racerback striped tank with a zipper, and a cute tee with a silver embellishment

I got the cardigan and tank at the outlet, and bought the shirt along with a striped boat tee and a pair of jeans at the actual store.  I got such a steal on the jeans (they’re dirty, that’s why they’re not pictured!), they ended up coming to only $25 :)

I also bought two adorable sun dresses at Express for the steal of the century:

Both dresses were 40% off and then my mom had a $15 birthday coupon, so they both came to about $36, what a bargain!

It feels really good to have some new clothes and really helps me keep motivated to lose more weight.

I also purchased something else this weekend:

A beautiful eggplant.  While there were plenty of healthy dishes I could have made with this, I really only had one thing on my mind: Eggplant Parmesan. I decided to make a “healthier” version by baking it instead of frying the eggplant.  You really can get it just as crispy and it makes it not anywhere near as greasy.

Oh, it was soooo yum!

I may or may not have gone into a happy food coma.

However, I was sure to really control my portion and I didn’t cook any pasta on the side.  I just ate a piece of ciabatta bread to wipe up the extra sauce.  I had roasted zucchini in the oven for when my parents ate dinner, but I was stuffed so didn’t end up eating any of it.

I also didn’t realize that my spring break actually went until today and almost drove all the way to class… such a typical Emily.

Since I had the pleasant surprise of no class, my mom and I decided to go to the gym earlier than usual.  I was pretty pumped because I hadn’t had a good workout in a few days:

However, when we got there, the gym felt like a sauna.  I don’t know what exactly was going on, but the temperature regulation was definitely not working right.  I started my workout on the elliptical and just didn’t feel right.  My legs hurt and I felt light headed.  I barely made it past the halfway mark at 25 minutes and thought I was going to pass out from being so overheated.  I stopped and just said, “Screw it.”

After pulling myself together, I walked on the treadmill with my mom for about 10 minutes and felt a lot better.  I think the gym cooled down or they fixed whatever was wrong, but I just figured my workout for the done was over with.

Normally, something like that would have discouraged me, but I just brushed it off my shoulder.  Even though I didn’t have a great workout, I know it doesn’t mean there is something wrong with me, we all have bad exercise days.

Anyway, I’m off to relax and prepare for my final week and a half of classes for this semester.  I’m already looking forward to the weekend ;)

Do you get discouraged when you have a bad workout? What do you do to keep your self confidence positive?

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it’s birthday time!

It’s extremely hard for me to understand how people aren’t close to their mothers.  My mom is my best friend and the first person I tell almost anything going on in my life.  She knows 99% of everything about me, and would do anything in the world for me.  Its not unusual to find me hanging out with her on the couch watching a House Hunters marathon on a Saturday night.

I would like to think that I know her almost as well as she knows me and sometimes I think we can read each others brains.  On more than one occasion, we have blurted out the same exact thing at the same exact time.

So, when her birthday comes around, it definitely means she deserves a special dinner and a special cake.

I wouldn’t just make shrimp for anyone (I really hate seafood).

On the menu tonight was:

  • Mozzarella, Basil, and Tomato Salad
  • Roasted Asparagus
  • Linguine with Shrimp Scampi
  • Birthday Cake (of course!)

The mozzarella salad so delicious and so easy!

Fresh Tomato, Basil, and Mozzarella Salad

Ingredients
1 pint of grape tomatoes
1 ball of fresh mozzarella*
15 to 20 fresh basil leaves
olive oil
fresh cracked pepper

Slice grape tomatoes in half.  Julianne the basil, and then slice in pieces in half so they are bite size.  Slice mozzarella into small bit size chunks.  Drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil and pepper to taste. Toss together.  Cover and let sit in fridge for at least an hour.  Serve cold.

*I bought my cheese at the Italian store near my house so it was extremely fresh and huge.  If you’re buying them from the grocery store, you might want to buy two balls because they can be kind of small.

I forgot to take pictures of the roasted asparagus, but I just drizzled olive oil with salt and pepper and roasted them at 400 degrees for about 2o to 25 minutes when they were completely cooked and tender.

For the main course, I made the shrimp scampi using Ina Garten’s recipe from one of her cookbooks (but you can find it online as well).

For someone who never cooks or eats any sort of seafood, the recipe was extremely easy for me to follow.  I made a few minor adjustments by cutting down on the lemon a bit (my dad doesn’t love it) and omitting the red pepper flakes (my mom doesn’t love them).  The best advice I can give is buy the shrimp already peeled and deveined from the market because it makes your life a million times easier, I thought it was worth the extra money.  As always when cooking, make sure all of the herbs are chopped and the lemons are juice and zested before you actually start cooking.  I obviously didn’t eat it, but everyone really enjoyed it and said they would eat it again in a heartbeat!

Last but certainly not least of course was the birthday cake:

My mom loves pigs and her friend gave her the pig sprinkles as a gift over the holidays. I’ve been waiting for a special occasion to use them and what better than her birthday cake? :)

Of course, the inside of the cake had to match the pig theme:

Overall, I was pretty happy with how the cake turned out.  I have a lot to learn as far as cake decorating goes, but it all comes with practice.  I finally used food gel coloring to make the pink color in the cake & frosting and love it! It really gives an intense color.

For the cake, I used Eat, Live, Run’s yellow cake recipe and for the frosting I used this chocolate buttercream.  There was plenty of frosting to frost a double layer cake, but if I had been doing piping on the cake with the chocolate buttercream, I probably would probably have needed more.  For the cake, I just doubled everything except the salt to make two 9-inch cakes.

I hope my mom had a wonderful birthday! I sure had a fantastic day cooking and baking :)

What do you do to celebrate birthdays?

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I EXIST!

there’s a rumor I haven’t blogged in a little while…

Ok, so maybe it isn’t a rumor but actually the truth.  I’ve been ridiculously busy with school and work, and I haven’t had time to blog, bake, cook, or for that matter, think clearly.

But, I’m officially on spring break, WOOHOO! (two weeks before classes end… yeah weird, ha)  I’m hoping it will give me some time to blog this week as well as cook and bake :)

In other news, I have officially lost 20 pounds as of Thursday! I’m really excited, but there are also a lot of fears that come with losing weight.

I know I still have a long way to go, but I have finally passed the weight range I have been floundering between for almost 2 years.  I know I can do this, but I will always worry.  My greatest fear is gaining all the weight back, I think I would be devastated if I did.

I’m trying to think positively and I’m trying to believe that I can do this and stay healthy.

Well, I’m off for now.  I should have a lovely post for tomorrow because its my mom’s birthday and that means a yummy cake post will be coming :)

I hope you all have a wonderful Sunday <3

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Workout Playlists and Fantastical Cupcakes

So, I’m incredibly attractive after I work out:

You know you want to date me ;)

As I was working out today, I was bored.  My workout playlist has been the same for a long time, and I really needed some new music.  I need extremely upbeat music when I’m working out (pop/r&b/dance) or I definitely don’t work out as hard.

When I got home, I looked through a few running blogs, and finally came up with a playlist:

Yes, I’m a teeny bopper at heart when I’m working out. The first three songs I picked are usually ones that pump me up, the middle few are the ones I work out the hardest to, and the last three are ones that I cool down too. (side note – I have never seen Glee, I only have that song on my playlist because my friend played it in her car [Victoria Lynne!] and I loved it… but I could not tell you one thing about the show except that its about a glee club? ha ha)

However, I’m sure that my workout playlist is not what drew you into this post.  Its about the fantastical cupcakes I have claimed to have baked.

For awhile, I’ve been playing around with the idea of spicy chocolate.  Mexican Hot Chocolate fascinates me. Ever since I saw the movie Chocolat, I’ve been so curious about spicy and chocolate.  I though cinnamon cake would be an amazing combination with spicy chocolate so I googled “vanilla cinnamon cake with mexican hot chocolate frosting” to find a recipe. (Longest google ever?)

However, I was pleasantly surprised that a recipe came up and it certainly did not disappoint:

There are no words to explain these cupcakes.  They are simply AMAZING!  The spicy chocolate frosting is unlike anything I’ve ever had… so sweet yet there is a wonderful kick after you eat it.  Combined with the warm cinnamon cake, its just so good.  This is definitely a keeper recipe.

Cinnamon Vanilla Cupcakes with Mexican Hot Chocolate Frosting
from Cupcake Rehab

Cupcake Ingredients

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 ½ cups sifted all purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt
  • ½ cup of whole milk
  • ¾ teaspoon of vanilla

 

Directions:

  1. Cream the butter in a stand mixer until smooth and light. Add sugar and continue to mix until fully incorporated and fluffy.
  2. Add 1 egg at a time, beating well after each addition. In a medium bowl sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
  3. Preheat oven to 350° degrees F.
  4. Combine milk and vanilla. Add portions of the flour mixture and milk mixture to the electric mixer, alternating, starting and ending with flour. Pour evenly into cupcake pans lined with paper liners, about ½ – ¾ full.
  5. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until cupcakes spring back to the touch.

Frosting Ingredients

  • 1 stick unsalted butter softened
  • 2 – 4 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • ⅛ cup milk
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon of made coffee

 

Directions:

  1. Cream butter in the bowl of an stand mixer.
  2. Add 1 cup sugar, cocoa powder, chili powder, cayenne pepper, coffee and milk. Mix until thoroughly combined.
  3. Add 2 cups sugar and vanilla. Mix. Add more sugar if needed, and mix. If needed, add ¼ cup more milk. Continue until consistency is satisfactory.*
  4. Frost completely cooled cupcakes. Enjoy!!!

What kind of music do you listen to when you workout?

What do you think of spicy and sweet together?  Do you have a favorite combination? Have you ever had Mexican Hot Chocolate?

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how to keep lunch exciting but healthy

For me, keeping my meals exciting is essential to my weight loss success.  Lunch tends to be one of those meals many of use overlook or don’t plan ahead in advance because it seems so far away in the morning before you wake up and go to work or school.  I’m lucky to often be home to make lunch during the week because of my schedule, but there are certainly days I know I’m not going to be and need to plan in advance.  The important thing is to always have a few key ingredients on hand that you know you can make a healthy and filling lunch out of at any time.

I’m a soup, salad, and sandwich kind of girl when it comes to lunch.  There is so much variety that can be made within any three of these categories, and a number of ways to make them all healthy choices.

Here is one of my favorite combos in a rut:
turkey sandwich with mixed greens and a mesculin green salad with light feta, strawberries, and light balsamic dressing

I love this combo. Its definitely one of my favorites and keeps me full for a long time. I’m able to get protein (which I have found is really essential for me to feel full) and fiber.  Here are some great ingredients I think that can help you build delicious and healthy sandwiches and salads!

Sandwiches
bread: whole wheat bread, half of a wrap, Arnold’s sandwich thin, whole wheat english muffin

the “meat”: sauteed mixed vegetables, low sodium turkey or ham, grilled or oven baked chicken, grilled or oven baked lean seafood such as salmon, grilled or oven baked eggplant, a veggie burger (make sure you check the ingredients though, organic brands in this case often tend to be the better choice because of the tons of processed ingredients in Morning Star, Boca burgers, other non-organic meatless brands)

toppings: mixed greens or spinach; fresh vegetables such as tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, broccoli, carrots and mushrooms; sauteed vegetables; a slice of light cheese; sometimes even adding fresh fruit can make a sandwich a little bit more exciting; roasted red peppers

dressings: the most important thing with dressings it to make sure you’re using the correct serving size! take out measuring spoons if you need to :) light mayonnaise, balsamic vinegar with a little olive oil, light dressings, hummus, a laughing cow wedge of cheese

Salads

greens: green or red leaf lettuce, mesculin greens, romaine lettuce, spinach

toppings: fresh vegetables; light cheeses like feta or gorgonzola; nuts such as almonds or pistachios; fresh fruit such as blueberries, strawberries, oranges, pears, or apples; grilled chicken or seafood; tempeh; all different beans such as black beans or kidney beans; chickpeas; corn; a hard boiled egg

dressings: any light vinaigrettes (Newman’s Own or Annie’s are my favorite store bought brands usually); olive oil with balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar; a dollop of hummus

I think that making sure when you grocery shop you stock up on fruits and veggies for the week is really important.  The more of those items I have sitting around in my kitchen, the more inspired I am to make a healthy lunch.  I think there are two very important things to remember when trying to make a healthy choices for lunch.

1. MEASURE, MEASURE, MEASURE! For me, I don’t worry about how many fruits and veggies I’m putting on, so unless you’re on a specified diet where your intake of these are limited, don’t bother measuring those in general.  However, I measure all of my dressings, cheeses, nuts, and meat.  If you’re already maintaining a healthy weight, than you probably are eating the right serving size.  However, if you’re trying to lose a few pounds (or more than a few!), I can’t emphasize how important measuring is for most people to be successful.  I know it can seem completely annoying, but I promise, you really will be thankful you did in the end.  You might be surprised at what an actual serving size of dressing really is, and also realize you don’t miss than extra dressing weighing down your sandwich or salad.

2. I never regret eating something healthy.  I try to constantly tell myself this when I make food choices, especially if I’m struggling to pick that salad over the leftover Chinese sitting in fridge.  I try to pause and remind myself of how I feel after I eat the Chinese as opposed to how my body and even more importantly, my mind, feel when I eat a salad and a sandwich.  You are full from both, but they are such different types of full feelings.

I hope some of these tips make you help you to make some better lunch choices and try some new combinations that deter from your typical sandwiches and salads :)

What are your favorite sandwich and salad combinations?  What is your go to lunch when you’re in a rut? What do you do to motivate yourself to make healthy food choices?

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How To Keep Motivated

My whole life I’ve struggled with my weight, its been a constant up and down since I can remember.  I have lost a significant amount of weight before in high school, but I also have put on a significant amount of weight since then.

My biggest issue? Staying motivated.

I’ve learned over the past two months that the only way that I’m going to keep the weight off for good this time is to lose it slowly and in a healthy way.  No starving myself, no crazy diets… just portion control and eating more of the right whole foods.  While I haven’t put any time periods on how quickly my weight needs to come off, I’ve decided in the past two weeks, I really need something a little bit more to motivate me.  While I’m a very educated individual about weight loss, there is always going to be that tiny voice in the back of my head asking myself why I’m not losing 5 pounds a week.  So, I’ve decided to reward myself every time I hit a certain pound goal… and not with food.

I’m hoping this will give me a way to keep some of my frivolous spending under control, and really working for something I want.

Goal #1 –> 19 Pounds = iPod Shuffle


source

I know this sounds like a completely random weight loss number, but I can assure you that it is not.  My last post I asked you guys about iPods and whether or not you thought it was worth it to invest in an iPod shuffle.  In general, I received a pretty positive response that the size of the shuffle really made it a great MP3 player for working out.  At $49, I find it to be not a completely ridiculous purchase, but enough that I’ll feel like I’ve achieved something. So, this is my first goal weight loss and my first reward I’ll treat myself to :)

When you struggle with a goal, do you need to find inspiration for something or someone to motivate you? What do you reward yourself with that isn’t food?

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