Saturday, August 31, 2013

Days I Cherrish

      Sometimes it's about being swept up in the wind and feeling it take you over. Sometimes it's just about enjoying an open pathway and an open door and taking what you've given.
     Always it's about being aware of it while it's happening. Always it's about knowing it is special when you get it and appreciating that.
Simple City Sam

Moving! Wall Vanity Edition

      As you all know the move is final. We are in the new place and everything else is too. Now we come to the game of re-establishing it as a home. Putting our little touches here and there and getting our "stuff" back where we want it. It's a pain in the tush!
     I was anxious to get my jewelry "vanity" put back up and get that filled back in. Before we left the old place I took a picture of how I had it set up so putting the necklaces and such back up really wasn't that hard. This time around we did need to factor in pitched ceilings and short walls. I was able to mount the shelves at varying heights perpendicular to the wall and create little shelf "nooks" in relation to the pitched ceiling.
     The only thing left that was bothersome was the accessibility of my earrings. I LOVE earrings. It may in fact be a bit of an obsession. I can't help it! Plus, I have a wildly talented friend (Marquis Creations) who is a local jewelry maker, so really it's my duty to have several pairs and styles. I had an easy solution.
     I took another empty wood picture frame and stretched simple window screen across it. Each pair of earrings hook easily into the tiny mesh and are supported well! They are visible and accessible. Even more, now I have just one small box of studs that sits neatly on one of the shelves. This has, again, been an enormous space saver as well. The whole project took less than 30 minutes. We had left over screen from repairs we've made in the past, so this project was a complete up-cycle with no cost to ourselves.
Now I just need to fill it!
Simple City Sam

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Lemon Raspberry "Gimlet"

     For my sister's 30th birthday bash I also made a drink that was a bit stronger than the White Sangria. This one also played right into the likes of the guest of honor. This was my own play on a gimlet. Gimlets are traditionally gin or vodka mixed with fresh lime juice and simple syrup. I love them, but all that fresh lime makes it difficult to have more than one or two. Also straight vodka (basically) is not a great party beverage...just saying. This was just perfect. So refreshing, light, sweet, tangy and plain delicious all at the same time!
1 small bottle Stoli Razberi vodka ( or any raspberry flavored vodka)
1 bottle Simply Lemonade
1 bottle Simply Pink Lemonade
1/2 bottle Simply Limeade
4 Limes
2 Lemons
1 box Raspberries
     Wash and slice all of the limes and lemons. Add them to the jug or punch bowl. Add the bottle of vodka and the juices. I REALLY prefer the Simply Orange line of products. I have tried others with this recipe and I always come back to this brand as being the best. Lastly, so they don't get crushed, add the raspberries. Literally, that's it. It doesn't really need to soak. Keep ice nearby in a cooler or table bucket so that you can serve it over ice. This is way more refreshing and cost efficient because it will last longer.
     My sister was so happy with this "Gimlet". She rarely drinks but I saw her go back for seconds on this one. She even asked how to make it! That's when you know you've succeeded.
Happy Sipping!
Simple City Sam

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Summer White Sangria

     We had my sister's 30th birthday celebration this past weekend. I was in charge of adult beverages. This is honestly one of my most favorite tasks. I love making cocktails (and drinking them!). One bevy I made was this beautiful White Sangria. It is so easy to make.
Ingredients (to make enough for a standard punch bowl)
2 large bottles Riesling
1 small bottle Blush Moscato (or any Rose)
8 oz Triple Sec
3 Oranges
1 box Raspberries
1 box Blackberries
1/2 box Strawberries
1 Lime
1 Lemon
     First wash and prepare your fruit. Remove any bad raspberries or blackberries. Quarter the strawberries. Slice 2 of the oranges into thin round slices. Add all of this to the punch bowl. Juice the lime, lemon and remaining orange and add juice to the bowl (be careful not to let any seeds in). Add the Triple Sec next and pop the corks on those wine bottles! Add the wine...all of it. Let the sangria sit in the refrigerator for about an hour before service. More time doesn't necessarily hurt but I find the berries start to break down at that point and I like people to watch that process and enjoy that part of the cocktail too. Eating and drinking should entice more than just your sense of taste. If you serve it with little berry bits floating throughout, the presentation loses something, though not the flavor.
     When you serve this use wine glasses or punch glasses. I always keep a cooler or ice bucket near by as well. A lot of people prefer their Sangria on the rocks. This is good for your budget too because it makes the Sangria last longer.
     This was a super big hit. I actually made two batches and they were both completely gone. Fruit included! People love booze soaked fruit. By the end of the Sangria those orange slices are divine! I didn't have to spend a ton of money on high end wine. The fruit and Triple Sec really sweeten it up and the Riesling and Moscato are in their own rights. Mixing it all together means you can totally get away with "bargain" or middle of the road wine.
Perfect simple summer bevy!
Simple City Sam

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Personal Fitness Challenge: Confessional

     Alright so I need to be in better shape. For real. My youngest is almost 3 and hubby and I are not having anymore children. I can no longer classify the jiggle in the middle as "baby weight". Now hold up! Before my mom gets all, "you're beautiful, we are all made different, plenty of people would prefer to be your weight" I would just like to acknowledge all of this. Yes, it could be can always be worse. That's kind of the point, damn it! It can always be worse, so it stands to reason it could always be better. It also stands to reason that there is no need to sit and do nothing and allow it to get worse. Besides, for me, as with so many others, it really IS about being more healthy. About feeling better as well as looking better. I've talked before about setting good examples for my girls. Now I need to put my words into action.

     About 5 weeks ago now I started this personal challenge. Let's be even more clear. This is not about weight. It never has been for me. I don't own a scale and never will. I am tense stressed and anxious enough as it is. I do not need a quantitative target to obsess over, I just don't. It's enough pressure every few years when I have to decide what I need to report for weight on my driver's license. I mean, really. So I am not measuring by numbers. I am not in competition with anyone. I have placed no monetary payout on the results. Rather I am measuring by progression of my workouts, how I actually feel, and a visual aid. For incentive and motivation I am snapping a "selfie", in workout gear, every Monday. Motivational- if not just plain scary.

     I started by writing down a list of objectives. From there I made a list of crucial things that I needed to do differently. Be honest. You know why you're not as healthy as you want to be right? It's not really a surprise. There is something that you do that you shouldn't. Indulgences. Guilty pleasures. Foibles. We all have them.

     My goals were basic. I wanted to exercise more, eat better, and schedule my "work time" more efficiently. I was finding myself constantly feeling rushed, mal-nourished, tired, and rather weak. I don't like any of that. Not at all. I also feel like I'm not spending any time with my family. I am always trying to squeeze something else in because "I have to work later". My plan was to set an alarm, "workout" somehow, do some paperwork/computer work for the job, and get ready to go for the day and head out to work. The schedule worked great the first week except that it completely negated the whole "spending more time with the kids" notion. So I have since placed that duty back into the after bedtime list of goings-on. It's previously scheduled time slot is now devoted to family play time, morning walks, general getting ready for the day type stuff, and soon readying for school. It's much better getting smooches and snuggles before work than doing extra work! Duh.

    So, anyway, I looked more closely at what I could change in the first round. I know this is going to be a long term, life changing commitment. I need to take baby steps. I know this about myself. If I don't work gradually and efficiently my changes won't stick. I need things to change for my health and my sanity. I scribbled down what I was going to change on a scrap piece of paper and put it right on my night stand. I've been staring at it every day since then. Annoying but effective.

     I committed to spending 30 minutes a day doing a Pilates routine I know and had great success with before. I also committed to walking the 20 minutes or so to work. Beyond that I needed to drink WAY more water (a bit less beer- but baby steps!), eat more regularly, and eat less carbs. I have opted to do this by consuming carbs in only one meal a day, by eating a protein heavy breakfast every morning- usually eggs, and drinking a minimum of 6 pints of water daily. I keep track of this by making a pen hash mark on my wrist with every glass consumed. Another visual aid. Gotta love it. I have also committed to stop eating ANYTHING after 8pm. That's a big one and so hard, especially working in the food service industry with weird hours and food readily accessible. But I know this is terrible for me and my waistline, so changed it shall be.

     I have not been flawless or perfect in my commitments. I have missed a few workouts. There are days here and there when there are not 6 hash marks on my wrist. Some days I can not convince myself to walk to work in the rain. BEER! And there are plenty of days when the girls are barely in bed by 8pm, let alone me being fed by then. Nonetheless I am making progress. The workouts are getting easier and I've already increased their difficulty. Water isn't such a chore anymore, I can pretty easily avoid carbs most of the time, and I even found a new favorite smoothie place downtown. I'm still working hard at eating late at night, I've pushed my deadline to 9pm and focus on protein at night too if I just have to eat. I have taken pictures every week- no I am not ready to show them here yet- and they are definitely motivation. We will always be our own biggest critics I think, why not use it to my advantage for once?! I don't know, maybe I see some slight changes but I know I feel them, so for now I'm not unhappy.

I'll keep you posted on the progress but so far so good.

Simple City Sam


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Moving! Bunk Bed edition.

      So, we are moving. Actually, now it's more like we have moved. Everything is in the new place, but not everything is in the place it should be. Isn't that always the way? It takes forever, and everything else in life seems to fall by the wayside when you're moving. It kind of drives me crazy. My hubby and I seem to be going for some sort of national moving title, we have moved over 14 times in the almost 11 years we've been together. I mean really, is that necessary?!
     None the less, we moved again. In truth, it's more of an upgrade than anything else! We are getting an extra bedroom and about 300sq feet more than we had, a dishwasher and in house laundry. This time we had helpers too, which makes everything so much easier. In theory ...
     The biggest news, however, is the bunk beds (especially if you ask the girls). That's right the girls upgraded too. Now they both get a twin size, no more toddler bed for the littlest one.  And of course, let's not overlook the importance and excitement that a three rung ladder can bring! My oldest "helped" Daddy put it together...or at least unpack the boxes.
     I was skeptical to say the least. Those are enough pieces to build a safe, sturdy bunk bed? If you say so. Hubby stayed up till the wee hours of the night to put it all together, what a guy!
     The inner kid in me was brought out when the mattresses were delivered for sure. Yep, here's one of them now. Wait...what? FedEx dropped them off and I started to get all salty. These aren't what I ordered. There's no way these are going to be actual twin size mattresses. If they are, they certainly won't be comfy. Grr.
     So we unpacked to see what we really got. Holy man, was I surprised!
     Alright, once the vacuum seal was broken that baby popped out, nice and full and firm like a jack-in-the-box...well a nice firm, full get what I mean. It was impressive for sure. Modern technology, what's next?
     Eureka! Actual bunk beds, with actual twin size mattresses. We did it. Huzzah! The shrieks of joy from the girls upon seeing their new beds were all that I needed. It was a success. Whew, check one giant moving item off the list!
     I have to say, too, that I was so impressed with the delivery speed and cost. I am NOT a huge online shopper (or shopper of any kind, truth be told) so I was very hesitant. However, I was able to get these bunk beds for less than half (much less than half...actually about a third) of what the same model cost in the local "discount" furniture store, including the mattresses. What's more is that the local "discount" store quoted me a 2 week delivery time. These bad boys were fully delivered less than 48 hours later. But, "hey Sam", you say, "we thought you were all, 'buy local, blah, blah, blah'". I am, but I'm also practical. In this situation we weren't buying locally crafted hardwood bunk beds, no matter what. Not many were available and they were FAR outside our price range. So the name of the game became saving money and staying efficient. Online purchases made that possible. I even have a 3 year warranty, something that was never offered while shopping in person.
     So I definitely count this as a win. I saved money, we had the bunks set for our first full night in the place and the girls are beyond excited. In fact, the last three nights have been the easiest bed times we've ever experience. Please, bunk bed Gods, let this be the new norm, please.
     Stay tuned for more stories of our move, a new get-fit challenge I've given myself, and some more garden recipes. The new job schedule, the move, craft fairs and the Etsy store, and the full time mom thing are definitely making it more difficult to find time for the blog, but fear not. I will find time. I still find this to be a great release and I miss it terribly. Don't give up on me...I haven't given up!
Lots of Love.
Simple City Sam