Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Drink it...don't look at it...

This was surprisingly tasty, and super good for me!

4 frozen strawberries, 2 handfuls fresh spinach, 10 drops stevia, 6 ice cubes, and a cup of water. Blend it up and drink it down!

Due to the odd color, we have dubbed it the 'S.S. (strawberry spinach) swamp.

Hey, if it gets me into my size 8's, I'm in!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Cooking Lean - quick recipes under 300 calories

Ground Beef & Tomato spicy chili....
This one is first, it's my fave! Simply saute 1 lb. lean ground beef in a saucepan, until no longer pink, adding in a bit of S&P, granulated garlic and onion. Set aside to drain. Meanwhile, add 1/2 chopped onion to the pan, and saute about 8 minutes, until translucent. If you don't want to add oil, use a bit of beef broth to keep it moist. I like the Pacific organic brand. when it's mostly done cooking, add 1T. minced onion, 1t. of cumin, paprika, and chili powder. Let those spices 'toast' a bit, then add 4 chopped fresh roma tomatoes. When they are tender, add back in the ground beef, and 1c. crushed canned tomatoes. Stir every few minutes, adding more beef broth as needed for the right consistency, simmer 5-20 minutes, season to taste.
Makes 4 servings, 224 calories each.
(Add grated cheese and eat with tortillas if desired!)

Lemon grilled Chicken
& Strawberry Salad
Season 6 oz. chicken breast with lemon juice, a pinch of granulated garlic, S&P. Let it marinate, then grill! Let chill before slicing then, and drizzle on more lemon juice, salt and pepper. Fix your fave salad greens, sprinkle both with fresh lemon juice as well, then top with fresh sliced strawberries.
Approx. 200 calories (5oz chicken and 6 big strawberries)
Approx 176 calories

Spicy lettuce-wrapped tacos
Saute 1 lb. 93% lean ground beef, drain. Add back to pan with minced garlic, 4T. tomato paste (mixed with 4T. warm beef broth to mix well). Add cumin, red pepper, a bit of oregano to season, add in a bit of salsa and/or crushed red pepper for more flavor! Serve on romaine leaf lettuce with fresh, sugar free salsa and a bit of cilantro.
4 servings, Approx 188 calories each.
(Add sliced avocado, grated cheese, hot sauce (or tortillas) if desired.)
quick canned chicken spinach salad
with fat-free dressing
Whip this one up in minutes when you don't have time to cook! Rely on all white-meat canned chicken breast in your pantry. This version is simply seasoned with a fresh vinegarette:
1 cup white wine vinegar, shaken with 1T. lemon juice and 1T. water, add S&P, granulated garlic, a bit of stevia, dried basil and parsley.
Approx 180 calories as served
(Add fresh parmesan and croutons if desired.)

Shrimp Cocktail!
Start with fresh shrimp, steam to cook! (Or, use pre-cooked shrimp) Sprinkle with a bit of S&P and lemon juice, serve chilled with sugar-free cocktail sauce and some yummy fresh fruit and veggies. Easy!
Approx 180 calories as served.

Fire-grilled spicy fajita-style-chicken salad
Season chicken breast with red pepper, garlic, cumin, S&P, let it marinade a bit. Grill with a fat slice of onion and a whole pepper, then slice thinly, and serve with fresh sliced veggies over lettuce, and sugar-free salsa. Sprinkle on fresh lime juice and S&P.
Less than 200 calories as shown.
(Add crushed tortilla chips, grated cheese, sliced avocado and a bit of sour cream if desired.)
stir-fried cajun shrimp and salad
Saute 2T. minced fresh onion in pan, adding water as needed to keep it from scorching. S&P, add 6oz. shrimp, season with Cajun seasoning, cook until pink. Serve over salad, topped with Cajun seasoning as well. Approx 160 calories as shown.
(Add salad dressing/toppings as desired!)

spicy faux lime 'ceviche' with fresh basil
I used pre-cooked frozen shrimp defrosted (instead of cooking it in the citrus juice) for this, just to be on the safe side. Add fresh lime juice to 6oz. shrimp, then add one chopped roma tomato and 1/4c. diced red tomato. Season with S&P, red pepper flakes, julieenned fresh basil, and minced garlic.
Approx. 170 calories as shown.

 Mesquite-Grilled Chicken, oven-roasted asparagus, and couscous
Season chicken breast with minced garlic, S&P and mesquite liquid smoke. While marinating, saute fresh onion and garlic in a small pot, add just enough oil to coat.  When cooked, add 2c. water (or chicken stock), S&P, along with basil and parsley.  Bring to boil, then remove from heat and add 1c. plain couscous, along with 1T. butter.  Cover, let stand 5 minutes, fluff. Roast asparagus in the oven (on bakeware pan or foil).  Grill the chicken.  
Approx. 300 calories as shown (chicken and asparagus=195 cal.)
(add butter to asparagus or EVOO when cooking if desired, toast pine nuts to top couscous for an added nutty bonus).

Each quick recipe is for 1-4 servings as stated, prepared using fresh ingredients and spices with little-to-no oils, preservatives or sugars. Calorie count for each meal is less than 300; which is a GREAT balanced lunch. I'm a girl with a big appetite (got that one from my Dad), and each of these is satisfying for me.  The best part I have found from eating lean is NO digestive issues. Let me know if have any questions about any of these recipes, I'll be happy to answer you!

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Yesterday turned out to be rough. I had realllly counted on getting into a local show next month, and, because of that, left the weekend before and after open so I wouldn't get overwhelmed. Their application system is weird, normally these events open it up 4-6 months in advance, and let you know at least 3 months in advance, sometimes longer! This one is different, applications are opened 6 weeks before, and you find out if you got in one month before. It's really tight, and kind of strange.

Anyhow.... I'd heard good things about it, so I applied. And yesterday when the decisions were going to be posted, I hit 'refresh' on my computer at LEAST every 30 minutes, all day.

And I found out last night, I didn't make the cut. Rejection is ROUGH. Granted, most of the time I do get to participate in the events I hope to, and I guess this is only the 5th 'no' I've heard in 2 years, which isn't bad considering there are more than 40 events I DID get to do. But it still stings, ya know?

I've made SO much progress lately with my health/fitness/weight loss plan, and last night hit me hard at how my emotions get tied in with food. I seriously wanted to EAT. Bad Stuff. The Key Lime ice cream in the freezer was calling my name, and the Salt and Pepper Kettle chips in the pantry were shouting 'do it! do it!' While I knew that indulging would make me feel better temporarily, I decided I was MUCH more interested in my long-term goal, and wanted to feel good about my weigh-in this morning.

I just went to bed a bit early instead, and slept off the funk.

8:15am is now my favorite time of the day.

Kids are at school, house is quiet, tea kettle on the stove, and I get to weigh in. Almost EVERY day I see losses, some smaller, some larger. That, my friends, is what is keeping me going with this. I'm proud of myself, I haven't been this disciplined in 2 years! And then, I had yummy-tasting 'cheats' (chocolate protein shake and fruit bars!) to make it easier, plus loads of vitamins and supplements that had me amped full of energy all day! This time, it's allll me.

Discipline, Self-Control, Hard Work, Motivation, all of it.

Back to my cup of tea...and a bit of time online, then I think I'll start some muscle training with the WiiFit. Can't hurt.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wow, what a month!

Wellll, it has been an intense month, for sure.  I took up exercising (surprise surprise!) so I took a break from the new baby blog.  A LOT has happened (so much busyness that it has been hard to get back to write about it!), so I'll give you the quick snippets from it all.

2 good friends who attended my Changes of Heart show at Avoca
1) I had 6 art events in 5 weeks.
-9/17: Solo show at Avoca with 23 themed pieces; I've sold 7 of them, but, more importantly, got some amazing encouragement and feedback from others who connected with the work.
-9/24: The Dallas Flea.  My first time at this quarterly event, and I am a big fan.  It was warm in there, but I met some great vendors and sold lots of art.  Hopefully I'll participate with it in the future.
-9/29-30- Indie Emporium, Tulsa.  This 3-day trip was cool, I loved seeing the differences in the scenery, and the city was great.  There is a great appreciation for handmade as well.  The show was unique and fresh, and I met lots of great people.
-10/8 - Arts Goggle: This is normally one of my best events, but the crazy rain that came down at 7pm scared everyone away (when it usually just started to fire up at that point!), which was disappointing.  The crew at Avoca was great though.
-10/15- Cowtown Indie Bazaar - My 3rd time with this show, and it was disappointing.  The vendor selection was top notch, the event well organized, but there just wasn't the traffic I needed.  Etsy Fort Worth did a great job on everything though.
-10/15- Artists Against Aids Charity Auction.  I donated one piece to this cause, and was delighted when it sold that night!  The event wasn't very well attended, unfortunately, so only 1 in 8 or so of the pieces sold in the initial silent auction.  The couple who purchased it are local FW collectors, and we really hit it off talking about upcycled materials, Oregon, and living in this very conservative area.
green blocks set up at Arts Goggle

2) I've been kicking butt (my own) this month with my health/lifestyle change.  Exercising, making smart eating/cooking/eating out changes, and paying attention to my cravings is really paying off.  I didn't have a reliable scale, to take initial weight or measurements, but I estimate I've lost close to 15 lbs since the end of August.
I treated myself to 9 new pairs of pants/shorts today.  Well, not 'new' per se, but new to me, they've all been collecting dust in my closet for 6-10 months.  Woot!  I'm now back into the 'goal' jeans that I got into 2 years ago, and haven't worn for almost a year.
Right now I'm one week in to my month-long metabolism 'cleanse', of being dedicated to avoiding all sugar, chemicals, bad fats, oils, and white refined stuff.  It is going great and I am feeling great!  I'm posting 'eye candy' pics of some of my meals/recipes on my personal FB page, but intend to transfer some of them over here soon in a few blog posts.

new kicks for running!
I took up running again (for the first time in 11 years) and am now enjoying it.  My goal was minimum 3 days, 20 minutes (or 1 mile) per week.  I've gotten my mile from 16 minutes down to less than 12. Booyah!  The cooler weather is definitely making it easier, now I see why people prefer to run indoors on a treadmill in the air conditioning!  lol!

3) My kids are smartypants.  We had their p/t conferences last week, and both of them scored off the charts (could be one or more grades higher).  Me is the proud.  It took my son a good 3 weeks to settle in to Kindergarten, but his teacher says he is doing great.

4) I've officially weaned myself off of (the amazing, but expensive) vitamin/energy drink I have had for 2 years.  It's a great product, but I'm much more a fan of being able to tackle my day without it, and more-than-delighted to save $15 per month by switching to green tea.

5) The weather here in Texas is working it's way into a lovely fall; we are definitely enjoying the cool evenings and easygoing days.  Time to get the kids winter PJs and sweaters out of the top of the closet.

I promise I won't let so many days go by again without checking in; I guess I was maybe initially disappointed that I had so few followers here (since I have close to 2,000 online connections if you total up my social networks), but I think it's not really about the masses, but more about the ones who actually care, right?  Let me know if you agree!

Friday, September 16, 2011

too much?

there is a small chance that I might need an intervention...

(some of my paintbrushes)

addiction? passion? obsession? collection?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

All I want is for you to be there.

I'm feeling a euphoric mix of anxiousness and blissful content this week, leading up to the event on Saturday.  For the first time I'm putting a collection of cohesive, themed, 'curated' pieces up for display, all at once.  I'm inviting friends, family, collectors, and strangers to come and view the work, and to tell me how they really feel.

The short story:
I've poured my soul & heart & paint into these 20+ new pieces of art.  I'm not asking you to come to buy something, I'm just asking you to come.  To see it.  To  reflect, dialogue, & share this important night with me.  Just be there if you can?  Saturday, Avoca at 1311 Magnolia in Fort Worth, from 7-10p (come and go!)
The long story: 
I started painting (on a regular basis) almost 8 years ago.  At that point I needed to create, to express myself, to make things that were decorative, or pretty, or functional.  I wanted to make paintings, and so I did.  Without formal art training, I had little confidence in my abilities in the grand 'art' scheme of things, but I trusted my innate love of color and form, and practiced my brushstrokes until my hand became stronger, my vision expanded, and my skill increased.  And gradually, it did.  When I didn't have a wall to fill at my home, a mural to paint for others, or a custom piece ordered by a client, I began making miniature art. To say I was doing this consistently would be an understatement; my husband would probably say it was more of an obsession (and, like usual, he would probably be right).  Over the course of 3 years, as an at-home, on-a-budget, Mother of 2 toddler/pre-school aged kids, I used these mini drawings and paintings as a creative release, a challenge of my skills, and a mental escape from the redundancy of everyday domesticity.  I found, online, artists all over the world who encouraged my work, traded their art with me through the mail, and, embraced me in their community.  I found 'my people', and I came into my own artistic style.

With all that experience & practice of making 2,000 plus mini works of art (most were ATCs, the same-size of a playing card), I was ready to return to larger work again.  My son (who had previously been so full of energy and life that I couldn't turn my back on him all day) was now 4, and in school part-time, & with that 'breathing room' and my new art studio, I decided to once again, put my work out there publicly.  Spring of last year, I created lots of decorative art on canvas, and jumped into the art fair scene.  I focused on all-handmade-only indie bazaars, art-in-the-park events, and submitting work for local gallery events.  And it was successful; I loved it, I met others who appreciated my art, and I met many who connected with a piece and purchased it.  For the past 20 months I have participated in 50+ events in the Metroplex.  Whether donating to a charity silent auction, setting up my 10x10 tent to sell art, painting live as a featured artist, or creating a public mural, it has been busy.  The art I have created has ranged from all sizes and subjects; some pieces have taken 2 years to find their owner, and some art has sold before the painting has even been completed.  There have been ups: creating custom pieces as commissioned gifts, hearing 'you are my favorite artist' or 'my child is taking art classes now because she is inspired by you', or knowing that in 3 states, art teachers have formed lessons around my work!  There have been downs: horrific weather at an outdoor event, getting rejected by a gallery or art festival, or people simply walking by my work with no comment, no emotion, no reaction, no affect.  All of these experiences are invaluable, teach me something about myself, and (continue to) shape my work today.

Most of what I've created thus far is what I consider 'decorative' art.  I've sought to create work that is lovely, or interesting, or would look nice in someone's home.  I try to have variety in theme, size, and colors, to reach more people, to attract them, to have them connect with a piece and to encourage them to purchase.  It should also be durable and easy to transport, cause it has to travel with me.  I've also created smaller pieces that make great gifts.  I've created art for a business.

This event is different.

Most of you know, as of 3 weeks ago I became a full-time artist.  My part-time job suddenly became unavailable, and I had to make a decision: struggle to find a full-time job?  Look for a part-time position working for someone/something that I don't really believe in?  Or take the leap and create art full time?  And so I did the latter.  And it has been really rewarding; I have been able to challenge myself with my work, to create pieces with 3-d elements, to work on wood and with materials I wouldn't be able to fit into my normal art fair display.  I was free.

For this event, 'changes of heart', I've used materials and combinations of materials that I've never used before.  I've used these new pieces to reflect on the fluctuations of my emotions with my journey being bi-polar, with the rejection faced from being snubbed by others and losing my job, with the frustrations of daily life, and the immense joys of that same life.

I've put it all out there, and I would love you to come and see, to reflect with me, to share with me, to challenge me where I don't measure up.  This is not where I'm asking you to pat me on the back.  This is not where I want you to see my cute little art projects, like your kid's open house at school.  This is who I am, what I believe, how I feel and who I am created to be, rolled into 20+ pieces of art hanging on the wall.  It's a milestone for me, and this is the only time this collection of works will hang together.  While some are up already as a preview, others will be added on Saturday to complete the exhibition, and pieces that sell that evening (or have sold already) will be removed at the end of the evening, so it's really a one-shot deal.

Life is busy, schedules are complicated, things get in the way, I get that.  If you can't come, just expressing your support by 'wishing you could be there' is encouraging.  But if you can come to Fort Worth, even for 30 minutes just to see what I am doing, it would (and will) mean much to me.

For me it's about coming into my own; following my passion, seeking my true calling, and, for really the first time, taking myself seriously.  I'm trying to believe in myself even more than some of you believe in me --- which is hard.  I'm trusting that as I am faithful, good things will come of it.  And I hope you are there with me.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

'changes of heart' is this Saturday!!!

My solo event with 17+ new heart themed art pieces is this Saturday, I'm super excited. No one but my hubby and kids have seen the work, it's exhilarating and nerve wracking at the same time. I thought I'd show a few teaser pics here though.

For those that are local, join us Saturday, Sept. 17th from 7-10pm at Avoca on (1311Magnolia)!
Here is the event info and invitation, on Facebook.

I know these pics are cropped and criptych, but do they leave you wanting to see more?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

snarky little know it all fortune...

this was in my dinner, 2 nights before I got laid off.  ironic.

the food was good though, so that's something.

motivational mixed messages

I love these scrap happy words pulled from magazines; and the discovery process of combining them into found phrases and poetry to add a unique touch to some of my art.

Which one resonates with you?
--- believe in your passion --- once upon a peaceful dream --- create your perfect life --- a new kind of forever love --- make beauty not what you expected --- escape & experience your dreams --

find the strength to run at success

Most of these happy words and phrases are available as digital collage sheets in my Etsy shop.   Add in a comment that you saw this on my blog and I'll send a 4th sheet (brand new & not pictured) for free!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

nothing to see here, kids...

I still haven't decided if & when I'm going to blog, so don't get excited.  Nothing to see here yet.  Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or check out my website: Original Youth for slices of life & art. Feel free to jump in with a 'follow' here if you want to be ready for when I launch this bloggityness.