Sunday, December 29, 2013

30 Days of Lists-December Week Three Update!

I'm behind in updating by a few days, because we were off on our Christmas vacation celebrating with family in Missouri. But I got caught up on all of the lists this morning and got  photographs taken this afternoon.  So, I bring you Days 15 through Day 21.

Day 15: I like to avoid...
1. Socializing
2. Seeing me
3. Driving in snow
4. Thinking about my past
5. Carbs!

Day 16: Favorite things to eat this time of year....but Can't....
~Mashed Potatoes
~Hot Cereal
~Buttered Rum
~Pumpkin Pie

Day 17: I wish I had done more_____
working out

(First off, how cute is our foster kitten photobombing?!?!)

Day 18: On My Shopping List
Scrapbooking stuff
a New dress
School Supplies
Camera Bag

Day 19: Projects I finished
Good Reads list
Wedding DIYs
lace scarf
knitted cowl
12 Days Swap
Great Christmas Swap

Day 20: With a day to myself...
I would-
see a movie

Day 21: Positive things this week-
seasonal depression is better than it has ever been
The Boy's IEP meeting went well
Weight loss=3.2 lbs for a total of 13 lbs
Christmas shopping is completely done
Solstice! The sun is coming back! 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Swap Reveal!

Meet my partner for the 12 Days of Christmas swap: 

I was paired up with the lovely and adorable Sofia, who writes at From PDX with Love. She is by far the more professional blogger between the two of us and I must admit that I felt a little intimidated when she first contacted me so that we could get an idea of the others personalities. Not only is she a incredibly beautiful, but she's one of those blogging superstars and incredibly sweet to boot!  We exchanged a couple emails and I got a pretty good grasp of her style and the shopping extravaganza began. I really cannot wait to see if she liked her package as much as I loved mine!

Because, really, who wouldn't love an adorable assortment like this?!?! 

Day 1: This adorable little plaid reindeer who has joined the gaggle of goofy ornaments on our tree. He is definitely outshining them all this year. 

Day 2: The E.L.F. eyeliner set I have been eyeing (no pun intended) at Target. I used to love liquid eyeliner and this set contains liquid in both black and brown, and a black pencil with a hint of silver sparkle. With some practice, I'll be rocking a perfect winged liner in no time. 

Day 3: A beautiful metal heart bookmark! I mostly read on my kindle, but I always have a book next to the bathtub for soaking and reading. I haven't invested in a bookmark in ages and thus all of my books have bent pages and torn dust covers. I love this bookmark and so do my books! 

Day 4: Blue and green teardrop earrings! First, they're super cute, they match my favorite sweater, and they have wire hooks which facilitate wearing along with my current captive bead rings. But most importantly, they are the colors of my beloved Minnesota Lynx and I will be rocking them all season long! 

Day 5: HUGE coffee mug. This thing easily holds 20 ounces of coffee! I've been brewing three of my standard Keurig cups into it and I'm a happy camper. It's my new go-to mug in the morning. 

Day 6: I'm working on my pen-pal skills. I've been doing some prison ministry and corresponding with some incarcerated folks and my resolution this year is to be a much better friend and actually start sending cards/letters to my friends. These dear little note cards will be perfect for that! 

Day 7: When Sofia and I were emailing about likes, I mentioned that I love statement necklaces.  I like a necklace that can really pull an outfit together. And look at this one! The day that I opened this, I was wearing a t-shirt, jeans, and a boyfriend cardigan. I tossed on this necklace and suddenly I was actually wearing an "outfit". I love simple styling, and adding just enough UMPH to make a look shine. I don't do it often enough, but it's another resolution and this necklace is gonna facilitate! 


Day 8: Hooray for new sweet smelling hand lotion for my purse! 

Day 9: And now the E.L.F. falsies? Oh my gosh, I'm going to look like a freaking pin-up before this is over! Well, okay, maybe not a pin-up, but I'm going to have some amazingly striking eyes!

Day 10: The most adorable little fabric covered notebook! It has joined the hand lotion in my purse and become my "blogging ideas" notebook. 

Day 11: This candle! Can we talk about this candle!?!?!  It smells SO GOOD! Like ridiculously good. Like vanilla and cinnamon and maybe a hint of something woodsy. When the wick is lit, it crackles like fireplace. 

Day 12: How cute are these?  Pencils made from tree branches!  I mean, obviously all pencils are essentially made from tree branches. But these still look like tree branches!  They're super cute!

Thank you so much, Sofia for putting together such an adorable array of presents. I had such a wonderful time opening them and they fit so well with my style and my life! 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Packing Low-Carb Road Trip Snacks

I've learned a great new trick this week thanks to the lovely Katie over at KTJ Weights In.  This week, I took on the phrase "I don't eat that".  It feels so much less depriving than "I can't eat that". And reminds me that the reasons for us eating (modified) Keto go so far beyond just losing weight. Give it a try. Let me know how it works for you.

Since we don't eat sugars and grains, roadtrip snacking and meals can be a bit difficult. Fast food just is not an option for us anymore. We don't eat chips, candy, pretzels, popcorn, and most standard convenience market snacks. So, what does a family do when an 8 hour road trip is unavoidable and they need to keep things low-carb?


Cheese is your low-carb friend!  For our holiday trip this year, I packed cheddar and colby to munch on, but most cheese are zero or very low-carb.


There are so many pre-cooked meats that you can use as snacks, but as far as road trip friendly food, you con't want things that require a large amount of refrigeration. We'll have a small cooler with us, so we're sticking with summer sausage and pepperoni. I also packed up a few packets of zero-carb beef jerky, but keep an eye on that, because most jerky is not zero-carb.


Okay, so almonds are not zero carb. They average 6-9 carbs a serving. What we have found though is that because there is such a huge variety of flavored almonds that we can cure almost any craving with one serving. They're packed with protein, so they keep us satisfied much longer than other snacks. Basically, I'm saying that they are worth the carbs. For this trip, I mixed together dark chocolate and vanilla roast almonds by Emerald. 

And with that last photo you may have picked up on what is my best tip for packing snacks if you are attempting to maintain a low-carb diet while traveling.  LABEL LABEL LABEL. 

I am way to reliant on technology for tracking my food every day. And I know that if I tried to bring a notebook and pen along with me, I would forget to write things down or I would lose either the open or the notebook in the shuffle of the car.  I individually portioned each snack item and then labeled the bag with the amount, the carb count, and the calories. This helps us to stay on top of it. And for those of us that don't have the greatest memory, you can just  pull the label off the package and stick it on the dashboard to serve as your food log for the day. 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

8" Green Earth Frying Pan by Ozeri

Going Keto can be a bit of a challenge. There is essentially no way to get around cooking, unless you just want to eat sliced cheese and sausage, or spinach salads every night. We have an awesome set of pans that we received as a wedding gift.  They're a nice, solid, non-stick set. But non-stick scares the crap out of me! There is so much information available about the health hazards of cooking with PTFE and PFOA non-stick coating. At very high temperatures, PTFE begins to decompose and release fumes which are documented to be lethal to birds and small pets, and which can be harmful to humans. PFOA is classified by the EPA as a 'persistent pollutant of the environment'. 

When the kind folks at Moderna Housewares contacted me to review the 8" Green Earth Pan by Ozeri, I jumped at the opportunity! And I have to say, I'm impressed. 

 The Green Earth pan is a die-cast aluminum pan with a textured ceramic cooking surface. It is completely free of PTFE and PFOA. No more worrying about dangerous chemicals and gasses coming off my pans while I'm cooking!

As soon as it arrived, I knew that I was going to make eggs in it. There's no better test of a non-stick surface than eggs. And the stickiest, messiest of all of my favorite egg dishes is a tuna and spinach stovetop frittata.
It literally slid right off the pan and onto the plate. If I hadn't known better, I would have thought the pan had never been used! There was not a single thing on the pan! It was amazing.

I tried it again last night to fry a chicken breast. It wasn't quite as amazing as the first time, but it still released the meat without any fuss and there was very little remaining on the pan after.

I'm incredibly impressed. And feeling much more safe about my cooking surfaces now that I have this pan to use!

You can find out more information about the Ozeri line of products on their Facebook page  and more about the Green Earth Pan on Amazon.

Financial compensation was not received for this post. A sample product was gifted from Ozeri/Moderna Housewares. Opinions expressed here are my own.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

2013 in Review

1. What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before?  
Married Wendy! Took a pottery class, started a savings account specifically for sperm purchases, drove to Montana to see my mom
2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions and will you make more for next year?
I didn't specifically resolve to quit smoking, but it has been something I have been making slow progress on for a number of years now. And here I am approaching the New Year as a current non-smoker. There were some stumbles for sure, but at the end of it all, I am striving to continue my non-smoker status. Our plans for early next year have a pretty big impact on that. 
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
So. Many. Babies! 
Chelsea and Josh had Dex at the very beginning of the year and I was lucky enough to there for his birth. 
My brother Zachary and my darling sister-in-law DaryLynn brought beautiful Ember Skye into the world. 
We had a bunch of friends give birth; Sarah and Doran had Bea, Sarah and Mark had Cooper, Sara and Marc had Kade, and Kate and Dan had Sam. It's really been a baby boom in our group of friends this year! 
4. Did anyone close to you die?
Thank God, no. 
5. What countries did you visit?
Um...pathetic. I've never left the U.S.

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?
A re-newed gym membership

7. What date from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? 
May 14 - Governor Dayton made love the law in Minnesota by signing the marriage equality bill into law. 
August 24 - Our wedding day! 
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I think the smoking thing is a pretty big achievement.
9. What was your biggest failure?
Weight loss and health improvement. I really tried to focus on it a lot, but it kept falling to the wayside. 

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Nothing significant. Same old, same old. 
11. What was the best thing you bought?
Our biggest purchases were wedding related and that experience was worth every single penny!

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My beautiful amazing city of Minneapolis for the huge show of support in making marriage equality a reality for our state.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Same old, same old. Bigots, jerks, racists, hypocrites, etc., etc.  
14. Where did most of your money go?
The wedding, craft supplies, savings (!) 
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Road tripping to Montana, our wedding, visiting with my mom

16. What song will always remind you of 2013? 
“Same Love” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) Happier or Sadder? Happier.
b) Thinner or Fatter? The same.
c) Richer or Poorer? Richer. 
18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Writing, hiking, traveling, knitting

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
20. How will you be spending Christmas?
Driving down to Missouri and to see the in-laws

21. Did you fall in love in 2013?
Deeper and deeper in love with my wife.

22. What was your favorite TV program? 
I'm always behind in television. This year, we started watching Sons of Anarchy, Walking Dead, and Orange is the New Black. But I discovered Gray's Anatomy on re-runs and have to say it is my favorite show this year. 

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? 
Hate? Really? Do you even know me? 
24. What was the best book you read?
Since there is almost always two or three books going at one time on my Good Reads list, narrowing it down to one book is really difficult.  I'm breaking the rules and listing my 5 favorite books of the year.
25. What was your greatest musical discovery of 2013?
I discovered Macklemore this year, and that lead me to opening my mind to indie hip hop and rap. (Which my wife has been telling me to try for years). So, my discoveries have involved:
  • Macklemore
  • Dessa
  • Brother Ali
  • Atmosphere
  • Guante
26. What did you want and get?
I am blessed with a wife that goes out of her way to make sure I get whatever I want. And I could not ask for more than that! 
27. What did you want and not get?
I wanted to travel outside of the country.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?
About Time. 
29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 36. We had brunch with Ani and Shawn at the Red Stag, went to lunch at Chatterbox, and then went and saw The Heat. It was a busy and awesome birthday!

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
The ability to be more direct, more close friendships, more time
31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?
Functional! I don't wear anything I can't wipe my hands on. *Also, I initially posted this without editing The Wife's answers. So, nope, I haven't become more comfortable wearing ties. 
32. What kept you sane?  
My wife, my dogs, the internet, crafting
33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Um...I thought a lot about Nelson Mandela. 
34. What political issue stirred you the most?
As always, marriage equality. And women's sexual health. 

35. Who did you miss?
My grandma is always missed. The most missed people though were not actual people, but the "idea" of who I thought people were. 
36. Who was the best new person you met?
Julie and Julia....I think that's it. 

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013.
The first step to getting what you want is having the courage to get rid of what you don't want. 
38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
When I ran out of thread, I couldn't let go
But that's not sewing, that's, that's just poking holes

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

30 Days of Lists-December Week Two Update!

What a slippery slope it is! First, it's one tiny packet. Then you buy the big kit. Then suddenly you're making a special trip to the other side of town to get what you need.

Scrapbooking supplies are a pretty serious problem, and I can feel myself getting caught up in it. I find myself searching for the best deals on different paper elements. We were at Marshall's yesterday and I bought a SMASH* mini-album because it was on clearance for $3.00. I even do a couple of web searches a day for different templates and page ideas.  Yep, I've fallen hard into art journaling with this 30 Days of Lists project and I can't see myself recovering for awhile.

On to this weeks update:

Day 8: On my movie-watching list...
A Dog Named Christmas
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
Best Christmas Pageant Ever
Muppet Christmas Carol
Charlie Brown Christmas
A Christmas Story
Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas

Day 9: My favorite outfits/accessories
Jeans and my plaid flannel
Doc Marten Mary Janes
Grey dress, black tights, and cardigan
Yoga pants & hoodie
Grandma's Liberty Dollar necklace
My wedding ring
A "bandana" kerchief
The Wife's t-shirts

Day 10: I have been a good friend this year by...
"Showing up" (emotionally and/or physically) even when it was painful
Opening our home to anyone who needs it
Knowing when to step back or step away
Remembering we're all at different points in the journey
Trying to create "magic" at times and "comfort" at times, when they really mattered

Day 11: Without _______, I would probably _______

God / be untethered
my family / feel directionless
my dogs / be lonely
PCOS / have 20 babies
mental illness / have friends
coffee / (be) asleep

Day 12: Places I went this year...
Sedalia, MO
Las Vegas, NV
Billings, MT
Fountain City, WI

Day 13: I get excited...
Planning a road trip
Going back to school
Seeing my mom
Thinking about being a mom again

Day 14: Stocking Up...
Sugar-free coffee syrups
Yarn for my sky blanket
Low-carb recipes
Cheese & sausage
Stationery to write to pen pals

Monday, December 16, 2013

Covered in Papercuts

 We spent the weekend days finalizing all of our holiday shopping, and I spent the weekend evenings wrapping and packaging everything for shipping. With my family being out in Montana and having a number of Secret Santa swaps underway, we have a pretty big pile of packages that need to make it into the hands of the reliable United States Postal Service sometime in the next couple of days. (Please, Ms. Postmaster General, read as much sucking up into that as you would like. You really are wonderful and you'll be even more delightful if all of my packages make it to their destination on time!)

(Please ignore the stack of wise men in my manger on the table. The cats have decided that they make a great noise when they get knocked to the floor.) 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Biting the Bullet

For quite awhile now, we have been talking about getting rid of cable.

When The Boy was young, he and I lived for many years without a television. I was a single mom! I couldn't afford a television. And I certainly couldn't afford to pay for cable. So, even if we had owned a television set, it would have been basic broadcast channels. We passed our time reading and listening to the radio. Or occasionally watching a rented DVD on my laptop. We spent evenings playing board games, singing along to CDs and dancing while I made bread and baked BBQ tofu (we were vegan, too, but that's a whole different crunchy story).  Entertainment and fun were hard earned. We worked for it, but it was so much more satisfying.

As I have become more financially stable, entertainment started to come more easily. Flip on the computer and log into Netflix. Turn on the television and choose from one of 300 available channels. If there is nothing on that looks interesting, there's always On Demand.  We all have a bit of a television addiction in our house. The TV is *always* on. Quite literally. Our entertainment is cheap and easy.

During the day, I am home alone and I just turn the set on out of habit. And because it is background noise in an otherwise pretty lonely existence.

In the evening, we are generally catching up on the programs that we both enjoy watching while we cook dinner and then while The Wife works on homework and I putz around on a craft project. A lot of our "couple time" is spent watching programs.

I even sleep with it on because it helps to calm me to hear a voice when I wake up in from PTSD related nightmares. While I can justify my nighttime television, I managed to give it up last year for Lent by using guided meditation and some really great sleep hygiene.

Obviously, of those three times of day, the only one that is forgivable is at night and since I was able to find a suitable arrangement to avoid it during Lent, I think that I can probably work through it again.

So, we're in the process of giving it up. We spent tonight looking through some of the options for still being able to have our television provide some entertainment without costing us a bazillion dollars. We checked out online streaming services that we could run through our Wii or possibly through a device like the Roku.

It's not set in stone yet, but I think we're on our way to a cable-free home!

Terrified by Soap!

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.

I've always been fascinated by the concept of making soap. But considering a lot of the crafting failures I have had over the years, any project that involves using a caustic substance like Lye makes me a little bit nervous.

I was gifted a copy of Soap Making Made Easy and read through it. I'm still a bit nervous, but feeling much more confident! There are three books included in the Soap Making Advice kit, including Soap Making Made Easy, Soap Making: A Quick Guide, and Soap Recipes. The book has all the information you need to make the process safe and practical, including great tips on packaging and starting a soap making business if you were to chose to go that route.

Author Michelle Gaboya has offered a copy of all three books to one lucky Ameliaesque reader.  Enter below and I will announce the winner on December 15!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Studio Gear Holiday Pallete

If you know me in real life, you know that it takes a pretty special event for me to put on a full-face of makeup. Sure, I love feeling girly and pretty, burt it doesn't take a whole lot more than some mascara and lipstick to do that. In fact, most days, I tend to look more like this:

Presentable, for sure. But not exactly fancy. And I would definitely feel a little on the naked side at some of our upcoming holiday festivities. 

I have a major fear of eye shadow, however. I know, it makes your eyes pop and really spruces up the area. But I just get a bit panicky about it. Have you seen the commercials that are floating around with the mom explaining to her kids that she is wearing the trendy "smokey eye"? Yeah, that's how I worry that I'm going to wind up looking. 

This little ingeniously packaged pallet talked me through the entire process and made eye makeup SO much less intimidating. It gave me a nice, natural-looking smokey eye, which could easily be made even more dramatic. 



I swear it even looks like I changed the shape of my eyes! It is mildly shimmery, but doesn't leave glitter all over the place like I've noticed with some eye shadows. It goes on smoothly and didn't settle into creases and lines. (a.k.a. wrinkles! Shhh!) 

I'm not sure that I will become a regular eye shadow user, but when I want a little extra sparkle, I'll definitely be considering this palette from Studio Gear.

As a special offer to Ameliaesque readers, Studio Gear is offering a permanent 10% off! You read that right- permanent! It never expires! Just use the code SGHOLIDAY at 

Financial compensation was not received for this post. A sample product was gifted from Studio Gear through Brand Backer. Opinions expressed here are my own.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

30 Days of Lists-December Week One Update!

I finished the first week of lists!  I'm pretty impressed. And instead of just blogging them as I originally planned, I made little art-journal pages. I am *not* an artist. But it has been so fun coming up with ideas for each page and putting them together at night.  Some of the lists have been really hard for me to write, because I just get stumped or because I could list for hours and hours on the topic and narrowing it down is near to impossible.

On to the update:

Day 1: Before the End of the year...
~Finish 12 days of Christmas swap
~31 Days of Lists
~Trip to Missouri
~New Years Eve with my WIFE! 
~Wrap *all* the gifts!
~Find a new yoga class! 

Day 2: Around my home...~Tons of art that I LOVE
~Family and friends pictures
~Scrawn, uneven Christmas tree
~holiday decorations on every surface
~2 dogs, 1 cat, and 1 foster kitten
~Warm colors
~True support
~A little bit of crazy and a whole ton of safety

Day 3: This is the only time of year I...~dread the weather forecast
~hate living in MN
~receive daily UPS deliveries
~love checking the mail
~actually enjoy spending money

Day 4: I am happy to report~My credit is up 100+ points in 2013
~I am writing more and taking time to read
~Tons of snow dropped today!
 ~I've been working hard to clear toxic relationships and nurture healthy ones! 

Day 5: Traditions!~singing "TRADITION" loudly whenever I hear the word!
~failing at creating traditions
~McDonald's Fries and Wendy's Frosties when I am sick
~Open one holiday gift on the winter solstice

Day Six: On my reading list...~The Irresistible Revolution: living as an ordinary radical by Shane Claiborne
 ~You're Already Amazing: Embracing who you are, becoming all God created you to be by Holley Gerth
~Perfectly Unique: praising God from head to foot by Annie F. Downs
~Carry On, Warrior: thoughts on life unarmed by Glennon Doyle Melton

Day Seven: What I'm going to remember about today...
~random acts of kindness feel wonderful
~I'm great at gift wrapping, but only enjoy it for about a half-hour.
~I am never too old to make a homemade gift for my mama.

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