Archive | February, 2013

Picking out Tuxedo Styles

26 Feb

I blogged last week about my choice for bridesmaid dresses for our August wedding. I still can’t believe I went with pistachio!

 

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I still have yet to pick out shoes, but I am thinking either gray or nude coloring. I could go crazy and go with peach or orange…..but we’ll see. Any suggestions???

Picking out tuxedos for the guys was WAY easier and less time consuming. We walked right in, saw the one we wanted and ordered right away. Simple! Here are some pictures I used for inspiration for the tuxes:

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I wanted to go with grey for a softer look. Didn’t take long to pick out our tux when we saw this one upon entering the store:

source: Tuxedo Junction

We are going with the grey tux, grey vest underneath, and the groomsmen will wear pistachio ties to match the dresses. Austin will wear the cream colored tie. The shirts underneath will be ivory. This picture I took in the store wasn’t the greatest, but here it is:

Tuxedo

 

It’s crazy how many little decisions there are to make that seem so important at the time, but I could totally forget about the day of the wedding. For instance- the guy’s shoes. We couldn’t decide between black and grey. We went with black, but do you think that this decision is going to mean life and death on the day of? No. I foresee more of this difficult decision making in my future…

What do you think are/were the hardest things to decide about while wedding planning?

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Paleo “PB & J” Pancakes

24 Feb

Okay, so I know I’m not supposed to be eating pancakes buuuuut I figured since they were Paleo, it’s Sunday, and my blog is indeed called Pencils and Pancakes, that these would be an acceptable decision.

I’ll admit I was inspired by PaleOMG’s PB&J pancakes, but really my recipe looks nothing like hers. I just stole her idea. These don’t taste like regular pancakes in case you’re wondering. But if you’re trying to eat clean, on Paleo, or just want to try something different and don’t mind an eggy taste give them a shot!

Peanuts and peanut butter are NOT Paleo or allowed on Whole 30- I substituted Sunbutter- which is sunflower seeds turned into a butter. If you’ve never tried it you’re seriously missing out. Stop buying expensive nut butters and just make your own. Seriously, I spent $4 on organic sunflower seeds and made about two cups of delicious, sugar and sugar substitute free, ‘sunbutter’. Win-win. Make it now! Then makes these pancakes:

Paleo PB&J pancakes

“PB &J” Paleo Pancakes

1 banana

2 eggs

1 scant tbsp coconut flour

sprinkle of cinnamon

a couple drops of organic almond extract (for flavor, optional)

For syrup:

1/2 cup strawberries

2 tbsp black cherry balsamic vinegar (plain would work fine, but of course I’ll use my fancy flavored ones)

1 tbsp water

1 tbsp sunbutter

 

1. Heat your griddle to 350 degrees. Mash the banana with a fork until you get a smooth consistency.

2. Add two eggs and whisk together.

3. Add coconut flour and whisk more.

4. Add almond extract and cinnamon and mix to combine.

5. Meanwhile, place strawberries, water and vinegar in a small saucepan on the stove and bring to a boil.

6. Pour pancakes on the griddle (keep them under 4” in diameter) and cook until bubbly on one side. Flip and finish.

7. After syrup comes to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until thick, approx 4-5 minutes.

8. Top pancakes with sunbutter and strawberry syrup. Enjoy!

Paleo PB&J Pancakes2

I ate mine with a side of crispy kale; random but good. If you try this recipe let me know! It’s definitely a great one! And go make sunbutter NOW.

Breakfast in Buffalo

23 Feb

My mind is in conflict over which topic I want to blog about first but I think I’ll start with this: a restaurant review. Austin and I were lucky enough to travel to Buffalo, NY this weekend (about an hour away) to see a legend in concert.

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George Strait. We are huge country fans, and I still can’t believe we saw him in person. Martina McBride was the opener and she was also phenomenal.

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Fun times! Me outside the Buffalo Sabres First Niagara Center. We are hockey fans as well!

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The next morning after the concert we were looking for a diner type place to eat breakfast and decided to go to The Washington Market on Elicott St in Downtown Buffalo. I knew nothing about it- turns out it was kind of a little grocery store as well.

 

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You can order your food up front and take a seat in the back. There was absolutely no wait, and the staff was extremely kind and accommodating regarding several, um, substitutions and alterations I made  trying my best to keep it clean.

I ordered an omelet loaded with veggies and a fruit salad on the side. It was fresh and delicious. The omelet was not soggy or oily like diner food regularly is. The fruit was literally as fresh as possible as they had just made it. Delicious.

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The fiancé ordered classic home fries, eggs and toast.

 

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I wanted to bite into that toast…but resisted!

All in all an excellent experience that I would highly recommend if you’re ever in Buffalo looking for somewhere to get a quick breakfast. We got all this and coffees for about $15 so that kept me happy as well.

 

After that we headed to the mall to look at tuxedo options for our wedding, but I’m saving that for another post. Just a random question I have for blogger friends: Collard Greens. Okay that’s not a question, but I tried to make them yesterday and they turned out extremely bitter. I sautéed them in bacon fat with garlic and onion and simmered them for about a half hour with some chicken broth. Ick. They had a strong bitter after taste. Everything I read online says the longer they cook the less bitter they will be. I’m not all that convinced. Anyone (especially southerners!) have a good recipe??? Thanks!

 

<a href=”http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/42/777237/restaurant/Central/Washington-Market-Buffalo”><img alt=”Washington Market on Urbanspoon” src=”http://www.urbanspoon.com/b/logo/777237/biglogo.gif&#8221; style=”border:none;padding:0px;width:104px;height:34px” /></a>

Homemade Salsa + Butternut Squash Hash browns

20 Feb

I have two great, Whole 30 and Paleo compliant recipes to share with you today. I couldn’t decide which one I wanted to share more so I decided to include both!

If you have been reading my blog (all 2 of you), you know I am going through a change in my eating habits called the “Whole 30”. I’m not going to say that I’ve been totally 100% on what the Whole 30 is supposed to be….I’m not going to stress out because something was cooked in soybean oil, or the marinade for the chicken I ate had dextrose in it. I know that I shouldn’t  be eating these things, but when circumstances to cut that stuff out stress me out more than just eating them, that’s how I know I just have to give in. Eating shouldn’t be complicated. It should be easy and good. But I don’t think it’s fostering a healthy relationship with food if I’m passing up on fun things/time with friends in order to avoid eating/drinking. That’s stupid.  If the Whole 30 creators want to tell me I’m wrong, whatever. I’m doing my own version of Whole 30.

Anyhow (slight rant), after closely examining some of the ingredients in the food I eat in order to stay compliant to Whole 30, I have realized that sugar is in EVERYTHING. I mean everything. Sugar is in salt. Why? Because it makes things taste good.

SUGARRRRRRRR!

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Sugar is in everything that you never thought would need sugar. They add sugar to dried fruit. Our modern taste buds are so immune to it and this is what causes out of control sugar cravings. These have been the worst since I have had absolutely no sugar (except in fruit) for the last week and a half. No chocolate, no fake sugar, no sweets of any sort. And contrary to popular belief: sugar=sugar. This means honey, raw honey, agave, Stevia, molasses. It’s all the same. There’s no such thing as ‘healthy’ sugar.

The craving for it is ever present and I do my best to try to smother it. I keep dreaming about diner rolls and white chocolate cheerios (do those even exist??? I’m inventing them!). The book INSISTS that the only way to kill the ‘sugar dragon’ is to starve it. So I’m trying my best. First things first- create homemade versions of foods that regularly have sugar. Cue the homemade salsa recipe!

Easy Homemade Salsa

 

5-6 Roma tomatoes, diced

2 cloves garlic

1 small onion, minced

1/2 cup of fresh chopped cilantro

2 tbsp of lime juice

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/8 tsp salt

dash of garlic powder

1. Chop your tomatoes and cilantro.

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chopping

2. Place everything in bowl.

3. Enjoy. The longer it sits the better it gets!

Homemade Salsa

 

This was yummy on top of the steak fajitas that we had for dinner last night.

Another thing that I had to share was part of my breakfast this morning. Due to the fact I’m cutting out all sweets, things that have natural sweetness like fruit and squash taste EXTRA sweet. Like, an apple might as well be an ice cream sundae. Technically you are not supposed to be feeding this ‘sweet tooth’. But I didn’t do this on purpose -I swear! I had extra butternut squash I wanted to get rid of and it just happened.

Butternut Squash Hashbrowns

 

Okay, it looks like dog poo, but I swear it’s delicious. And that’s a glob of homemade sun butter on top, which made it 10X better. If you don’t know what sun butter is, get with the program and Google it.

Butternut Squash Hash browns

Serves 1

1 cup of butternut squash

1 tbsp coconut oil

dash of cinnamon and nutmeg

dash of dried oregano

dash of garlic powder

salt & pepper

1. Shred the squash. You can do this with a cheese grater, but I used the attachment on my food processor. It was awesome.

2. Heat the coconut oil over medium-high heat.

3. When melted, add the squash and stir around.

4. After 3-4 minutes add the spices, salt and pepper.

5. Keep stirring around until you get a nice crisp on the squash (Like traditional hash browns).

6. Top with sun butter or another nut butter and enjoy!

 Butternut Squash Hashbrown

Don’t forget the coffee! So, while not pancakes, this inadvertently had my taste buds perking up. I’m okay with it. I’m not about to feel guilty for eating squash.

WOW this was a long post, congrats for making it to the end.

Which recipe would you like to try the most?!!!??!

Bridesmaid Dress Shopping

18 Feb

I’ve been absent all weekend and missing the blog world due to me FINALLY being able to head home for some much needed wedding planning. I wasn’t sure what to expect when going bridesmaid dress shopping. I wasn’t 100% sure going in what color I wanted; I just wanted to make sure that everyone was comfortable and looked good. I’ve been in a lot of weddings and those dresses are expensive! It is unfortunate when you have to spend so much money on something that you hate. So I didn’t want to put anyone in that situation. Here are some images I found on Pinterest that I used as inspiration:

Photography by alexandrameseke.com, Floral Design by rebeccashepherdfloraldesign.com

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Photography by ryanrayphoto.com, Design   Coordination by lavenderjoyweddings.com, Floral Design by bowsandarrowsdeluxe.com

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a great color combo  Photography by ashleybartoletti.com, Florals by http://www.robertsonsflowers.com/, dress by Jcrew.com********want these colors

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Bridal Bouquets, blush, white and green

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colors

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I knew I wanted something pastel- ish, and was hoping for a champagne, light peach, light pink, grey or pistachio. I also knew I wanted it to be light and airy, perhaps a chiffon or organza fabric. A short dress was also a must. I was even playing with the idea of doing different colors.

We started at trying on some styles that a consultant picked out for us.

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This one only came in this particular color. My sister is the model.

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Several people were a fan of the one shoulder. This was my favorite at this store!

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I loved this one! For some reason no one else did Sad smile

We were pretty much striking out at the first store. The consultant was kind of pushy (which I hate). I really didn’t want to feel rushed. I can understand her wanting to make a sale and the fact that the store was really busy, however this is my wedding, and I don’t want to be pressured into making my girls buy something I wasn’t sure about. So I told her we were going to try another store and come back….

This store was so much more accommodating. We didn’t even need an appointment and we basically tried on as many dresses as we wanted and no one pressured us at all.

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Cute…but a little too ‘poofy’. I loved the white one! But it only came in white, ivory or black and I really didn’t want them to clash with my dress.

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Loved this style!

So what did we end up picking? After trying on A LOT of dresses and realizing that not ONE dress really looked good on everyone (did I really expect that?), I decided to go with a particular designer and fabric type and let the girls choose whatever dress they wanted within those parameters (similar to the second picture I have up at the top of the post). I had really wanted to do ‘same color different dresses’, but thought it would be too difficult with all of my bridesmaids located in different areas. But most of them found one they liked that day! The others got to search online. The color:

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Pistachio! This is actually a sample of the dress one of my sisters chose. Here’s her in the actual dress (not the color).

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I am excited to see the total look when everyone’s together. One of my girls chose a dress with straps, and the one-strap also made an appearance.

 

Basically they can pick any Bill Levkoff bridesmaid dress in chiffon, pistachio color. I can’t wait to see how they all come together. I think it’s a good choice since not everyone has the same body type and I want them to be comfortable. The day was a success! I felt super appreciative of my sisters, cousin and sister in law who powered through that long day with me.

What do you think of bridesmaids wearing different dresses? Yes or no?

WIAW: Whole 30 Edition

13 Feb

 

Peas and Crayons

This is my first time participating in WIAW by Jen at Peas and Crayons…. I generally don’t post “what I ate today” posts because I feel like it promotes comparisons. But several people have expressed interest in what I am eating on the new Whole 30 plan I am following, so I decided to participate this week. I also want to track how I feel for my own reasons so bear with me. If you don’t care about how I ate or you are particularly susceptible to comparison & guilt feel free to skip this post! The last thing I want to do is make anyone feel ‘bad’ or ‘unhealthy’ because they don’t eat the same way I do. Eat however makes you feel the best! It doesn’t matter what I do- everyone is different.

Under the Whole 30, I can only eat high quality meat, veggies, healthy fats, and some fruits. I never thought I could plow through so many vegetables in two days!!! So far so good, and I feel way fuller than I normally do. I am basically eating the same amount of food just spread out more (3 meals a day instead of 6) and cutting out grains, dairy, sugar, and legumes. Things I’ve noticed so far are a huge difference in feelings of satiety, as well as amazement at just how many vegetables I’m going to have to eat/buy! I thought I’d have a problem with them going bad…..but no way! This is good because vegetables aren’t expensive. But meat is. I just have to tell myself that it’s worth it for my health! So here’s what day 2 of my Whole 30 looked like:

Meal 1:

Frittata with 3 eggs (!), spinach, tomatoes and onions

Blueberries and blackberries with 1 tbsp sunflower seed butter

coffee (obviously)

I made sunflower seed butter and it.is.awesome.

 

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Meal 2:

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Looks disgusting but:

1 cup roasted cauliflower

1 cup carrots roasted with garlic

chicken breast

2 tbsp of avacado

 

Meal 3:

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Pan fried cod in coconut oil and topped with Milanese Gremolata olive oil from Olive a Sudden!

1/2 cup roasted cauliflower (again, yum)

1-2 cups of brussel sprouts

I am obsessed with brussel sprouts. They are so delicious. I roasted them here with white truffle oil and cinnamon pear balsamic vinegar. I finished them with garlic and pink sea salt. I had no problem ‘filling my plate’ with them. I want more of them. Now. But I had to save them for lunch tomorrow. Sad smile

 

I also snacked on some almonds that I forgot to take a picture of. According to Whole 30, you are not supposed to snack. It means you’re not eating enough. So I guess I have to eat more protein and fat at lunch. Still getting used to this and getting in the grove so hopefully I’ll get it right sooner or later. I am nervous about this weekend, because we are going to be away from home and I really hope I can be compliant. I am not going to over-stress about it when I get there though.

Thanks for reading, and Happy WIAW!

What is your favorite way to make brussel sprouts?

Book Review: It Starts with Food

11 Feb

Before I start: I started a Pencils and Pancakes Facebook page! It would mean the world if you ‘liked’ me!!! Winking smile

I searched for a good couple of weeks for a quality nutrition book that would really help me with meal planning and getting back on track. Truth is I’ve been all over the place, unhappy and uncomfortable with my food lately. Ever since I stopped working out intensely because of my back, what was working for me wasn’t working anymore. At first I tried to cut back calories and felt fine….then I started feeling hungry…all.the.time. But I felt guilty going back to what I was eating before when I was working out. The key word: guilty. I shouldn’t feel guilty over what I eat. I don’t want to think about food as a reward, certain foods as ‘good’ and ‘bad’, or whether or not I could ‘cheat’ that day. It was all becoming a little overwhelming.

I needed direction and researched advice about how exactly I should be eating. This book has given me just that. It’s called It Starts with Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig.

ISWF

 

The authors. both certified sports nutritionists and owners of a gym, start off by explaining dangers of the modern processed food and how the high carb/sugar diet causes all sorts of health problems because of silent inflammation. Health problems ranging from infertility to high cholesterol, IBS, and even stroke.

I found most of the beginning a bit obvious. I don’t think I eat the ‘typical American diet’ they were talking about, but people who are close to me do and it makes me scared for them.

The authors then describe the major food groups that are linked to silent inflammation and insulin resistance: sugar & sweeteners, alcohol, legumes, dairy and grains. They go into detail about the harmful effects of these food groups on the body. The food groups not only cause hormonal imbalances, but also have negative psychological effects that are equally as damaging.

The authors propose the reader adopts what they call the ‘Whole 30’ lifestyle and diet, which is cutting out all of these foods in entirety for 30 days in order for the body to do a ‘reset’, get hormones under control and counteract the effects of inflammation. They include a really easy to use meal plan, pictures and some great recipes for Whole 30 approved food, and what they call the ‘meal template’.

You should eat three meals a day, each comprising of 1-2 servings if protein and 2-3 cups of veggies, and one serving of healthy fat. It also leaves room for a pre and post work out meal of protein and carbs if you’re intensely working out.

Yup, that’s pretty much all there is to it. And you can eat fruit, but not too much.

So the big question is….am I doing it?

Today I started this style of eating….and thus far it has been a huge success. I was so scared about only being able to eat three times a day, but the template makes sure you are FULL from those meals. I was the fullest today (healthy full) than I have been in months. But it’s only day one. Why do this meal plan if I have no immediate dangerous health problems, you ask?

My main concern is my psychological relationship with food, which the Whole 30 really strives to change. The Whole 30 is not about losing weight. I want to change the way I look at food- not look at it as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ and ‘cheating’ if I go off-plan. I am so ingrained in some of my eating habits I’m not even eating when I’m hungry. It’s getting annoying.I also want to clear up some other health issues I suspect might be caused by inflammation, as well as put an end to the CRAZY carb and sugar cravings I’ve been having.

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Noooooo more of these for a bitSad smile

So yes…this meals no oatmeal, cereal, or (dun dun dun) PANCAKES for the 30 days. Also peanut butter (it’s a legume). But it’s just 30 days. The book also includes a reintroduction guide for you to start reintroducing these foods and see how you feel. To me it’s not really a surprise…cut out sugar, alcohol and bread and obviously you’re going to feel better! I’ve been playing with the idea of trying Paleo for awhile…this is basically Paleo but excludes more (like natural sweeteners). You also CAN’T try to re-create desserts or treats like Paleo muffins or pancakes. It’s part of the ‘healthy relationship with food’ deal. Actually, most of the pancake recipes I make for myself WOULD qualify, but it’s not allowed for the 30 days.

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Frank loves the book too!

So overall, this book was informative and extremely beneficial. I can’t wait to see how I feel at the end of 30 days. I know it’s going to be hard, but I mean there’s way worse things to go through in life so I think I can handle not eating cereal. I decided that I’ll really just take it one day at a time, however. The program is really strict, and although I want to get all the benefits, I decided I’m not going to let myself get stressed out about whether or not the peppers I ordered at some restaurant were sautéed in soybean oil. I will avoid it when possible, but I don’t feel like I have the health problems to really stress out about it. I will keep you posted with recipes, updates and hopefully good results!

Visit their website if you want to know more about the Whole 30 and It Starts with Food.

How do you think you’d do on the Whole 30? Or have you tried Paleo? What are your thoughts?

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