Too Soon

Last year when my husband and I decided to delve into eating as healthy as possible, we assumed we would have at least 3 months until we would need to have a get together with family. As it turns out we have family that love to proclaim the healthy life style but when they all get together their love for each other is often expressed with food. Unfortunately my family often is the ones left taking any unwanted food home. We’ve put our foot down before and insisted that we also don’t want all the left over pies, but many times the fight isn’t worth it. One would think we could just toss those calorie ridden, carby crappers right into the trash, but as it turns out my husband and I both hate throwing good things away. We often joke that we were somehow born in the depression era as we find value in things others would toss out. It is both a blessing and a curse.

When once again we began this healthy journey after taking the summer off, which rolled into fall and a little winter, we thought, again, we would have until Easter before a family gathering would be required. We were wrong. Yesterday we were invited once again to Holland to have a gathering with my husband’s immediate family (just like Christmas) but this time grandma’s twin sister’s family came too. It was a cousins gathering. As much as we love seeing the cousins I knew this would be a dieting nightmare.

The first thing I did to prepare for this day was make sure the dishes I brought were something I could eat. I chose spinach artichoke dip with cut up celery and sausage stuffed mushrooms. My husband and I love these dishes and they are on our low carb yes list.

The second thing I did, or at least wanted to do was make sure I didn’t go there hungry. I failed at this. That morning I also had to work and make a trip to see my aunts. Time was tight. I forgot to eat breakfast and lunch. Not good. So right before we left to travel to Holland I threw a handful of known okay foods into a dish to munch on the way. IMG_1190This was exactly what I needed!

And I was right. When we got there my sister in law had created these brilliant masterpiece cake balls. Like these:

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only her’s were twice this size and pink and chocolate and covered in sprinkles. I love eating colorful food. I love cake balls. Sprinkles are for winners, right? I think I found myself staring at these things at least 20 times throughout the day. I even had to help serve them to the kids, meaning I had to touch them! However, I was good. Not one sweet thing was consumed by me the entire time. I stuck with my foods, some vegetables and a few things that didn’t have high carb counts. The only thing outside of my desired food was homemade cabbage rolls and my husband and I split one.

It was really nice being able to avoid tempting foods, literally right in my face. It was even better waking up this morning and finding that I had lost 3.2 pounds since yesterday morning! This takes my seven day total weight loss to 4.2. This makes me very happy. I hope my second week is just as fulfilling.

 

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Let the Festivals Begin!

nnaaIMG_6318 Guests stand out against the CCFF logo

Lansing is a very active city. As soon as the snow melts the festivals begin. We’ve already had TEDxLansingED, which I was invited to coordinate photography for.  Right around the corner is another fantastic event; the Capital City Film Festival. This will be my fourth year volunteering for this event. For the last two years I coordinated the photography coverage for this four day festival.

nnIMG_4869The Red Carpet

nnIMG_5073The local news covering the Red Carpet Premiere.

It begins with this amazing Red Carpet event which is free to the public and held at Troppo in downtown Lansing. An actual red carpet is laid out on the sidewalk leading into the restaurant. As guests arrive, dressed in their finest attire, they travel along its path, stopping long enough to pose for a quick photo before heading into the bash. It’s fun, festive and fancy! It’s one of my favorite parts.

nnIMG_5352The CCFF Coordinators

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Before the Red Carpet Premier kick-off party even finishes the opportunities to enjoy the first film begins. The films are featured at various venues throughout Lansing. This year the movie viewing happens at the Lansing Public Media Center, Dart Auditorium on LCC campus, Mustang Bar in Old Town and the Lansing Center. Each night also offers an array of musical talent.

nnIMG_6897Music performances every night during the festival

The venues for this year’s music are the Loft and Mac’s Bar.

nnIMG_6051Michael McCallum owner of Rebel Pictures. He writes, directs and produces films in Lansing.

The event runs from April 10 through April 13. You can buy a festival pass for $50 or you can pick and choose your events and pay at the door.

It’s a great way to try something new and experience a film festival right in your own little town.

There’s Film in Lansing!

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Check out my photographs from previous years!

 

 

Ten Reasons why the Winter of 2013/2014 Could Benefit You

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snowflakeYou can cancel your massage or chiropractor appointment- Get in your car and drive really fast over those long edges of potholes. Don’t go into the really deeps ones, although it’s hard to avoid them at this point, but the string of smaller ones, where it gets the car vibrating, those can really make a difference on a sore back.

snowflakeWhile you’re at it cancel your gym membership-Who needs to work out at the gym when every day you can head outside, pick up a shovel and push that snow off the driveway and sidewalk. You can burn from between 400-600 calories an hour!

snowflakeYou get to really support your local coffee joint-Living in Mid-Michigan it’s hard to avoid a giant Biggby billboard. This weather makes for the perfect opportunity to stop into your nearest shop, order your favorite drink and head off to work. If you have a Biggby card and it’s your birthday you even get a free one! This allows you to support a local business owner, which makes you feel really good inside. The warm coffee doesn’t hurt either.

snowflakeYou can act like a jerk and get away with it-I am pretty sure most of the Michigan residents (and probably the whole Mid-West & East Coast) are one snowball short of a maniacal outburst. We’re at the point where anger, hostility and aggression are at its peak. Of course you could try to counter it by being nice, but no one will hold it against you if you’re cranky.

snowflakeYou get to cuddle-Do you remember those super hot, summer days where you were so hot and sweaty you didn’t want anyone touching you? Yeah, me neither. Not this winter. I find myself cuddling up to all kinds of people and warm things. The other day I stood at the exit at Meijer extra long to enjoy the hot air that shoots down. I cuddle my kids, my husband, and people in the elevator. I’m at the stage where I’ll take warmth almost anywhere.

snowflakeThere are no bugs!-No mosquitoes, no bees, no wasps, no nothing. It’s just empty, cold air out there.

snowflakeYou don’t need to shave-Not your pits, your legs, your face, nothing. Why should you? Keep that hair as long as you want or need. My son refused a hair cut because he said it kept him warm. I hear ya, son! You keep that long hair!

snowflakeYou don’t need to shower either-On the same note, why suffer through that moment when you are wet and naked and it’s extremely cold? You’re not really sweating much at all and you will just cover back up with that super warm, oversized sweater anyway. So skip a couple of days. I am sure no one will even notice.

snowflakeYou finally get to watch every episode of your favorite Netflix show-You’re stuck inside day after day, month after month, what a great time to catch up on your shows.

snowflakeYour snowman never melted-Remember how you spent hours on that one almost freezing day and constructed the perfect snowman. During a normal winter you might get a day out of it before the melting began. First the carrot nose would fall off. Then an arm would get droopy. By the mid afternoon, with the full sun blazing down, the head would shrink until it finally fell right off. Well, not this year! If you took the time to make it, it’s still there! In fact, it probably, somehow increased in size and durability. It’s really been that kind of winter.

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So go grab your favorite sweater and blanket, curl up with your favorite saved show with your super hot Biggby coffee and say a Hallelujah that you aren’t swatting the one random mosquito that decides this is the best time to bite you.

Winter Fitness

IMG_2037I am the first to admit that winter truly means hibernation. All I feel like doing is stay nestled in bed, warm and plump from all the extra comfort foods. It’s the perfect excuse to eat foods high in sugars, flour and more sugar. Vegetables? Well they’re really not in season, right? On some of these cold, snowy days it seems to take all of my energy just to get out of bed, let alone eat right and maybe exercise. This year has been a little bit different. The first difference has been the weather. This has been one of the wintery winters I’ve ever seen. There has been continuous snow on the ground since the end of November. That never happens. This makes certain activities possible every day this winter.

ariniko_DCP_0276My favorite is cross country skiing. I tried it a very long time ago with my younger children. We went to Hawk Island and they would let you rent skis. I don’t recall it being very expensive. Unfortunately, budget cuts have left Hawk Island and Lake Lansing North unable to offer ski rentals any more. This is truly a shame as it is a fantastic way to get families active outside without putting a huge investment into it. Burchfield in Holt and Harris Nature Center in Okemos still offers rentals. You can check out their details here and here. This winter I have been able to ski 5 times. The last three years I wasn’t able to get out at all! My husband found a used pair of skis for $4 and I used my birthday money to buy the boots. This allows me the convenience of going to Lake Lansing North which isn’t charging an entry fee right now. So it’s all free. That makes it really nice. I like to take the “blue” trail. It’s the longest route and takes me about an hour if I don’t stop to take photos on my phone. The distance is just about 4 miles. There are shorter routes too. It’s a great place to get outside and enjoy the peace and quiet.

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Another activity I like is sledding. I was able to take my youngest two out yesterday. Again, we go out for about an hour and that really is a great workout. I chose Gier again, because I just love it there. Some other areas to sled are Granger Meadows, Hawk Island, Wavery Hill, Frandor Hill, Quinten Park, North Meridian Rd Park and Forest Park. I am sure there are more. I saw someone using the snow piles from their driveway to sled on.IMG_2501

Winter walks are also quite nice. There’s a little more need to watch where you walk so you don’t slip and fall, but it’s a great way to be outside and get fresh air. I love the Lansing River Trail for walking.

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As for eating your vegetables, I think you might be on your own for that. There are quite a few choices available even in the winter. I bought zucchini which I don’t think I’ve ever seen in the winter before.  Use this time to try something new, like winter squash. If you cut a spaghetti squash in half, scoop out the seeds, drizzle with olive oil then bake meat side down on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees for about an hour it turns into a great pasta substitute. Once it’s cooled scrape it with a fork and all the meat comes out like spaghetti. We use it all the time with our spaghetti sauce.  Or try a Jicama. It tastes like a radish or turnip.

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Just remember we’re almost done with winter and as much as some will be happy for that, I know I will, the chance to actually enjoy winter will be over. And who knows what it will look like next year!

Having Fun in Lansing-Winter 2014

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This last weekend it struck me that despite the cold the Lansing area seems to have quite a few activities going on. My family and I were able to attend the Harris Nature Center’s Winter Festival for the first time.  I had found the event posted on Facebook and when I saw the Samoyed dog sleds I knew I had to go. I had owned a Samoyed, Sparty, for 15 years and I still miss him three years after losing him. I had a blast hanging out with these sweet dogs.

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The twins had a lot of fun at the ice carving areas where ice bowling and snowball tossing was taking place. Just as we were heading out the twins took to the idea of skiing for the first time. Despite mom & dad being super cold, we decided to let the kids try it out. They each had a great time and both were pretty good. 

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At the same time as the winter festival at Harris Nature Center another fantastic tradition was taking place; the Cardboard Classic races at Gier Park Community Center. If you’ve ever followed my City Saunter Blog you would know that I personally love Gier Park for sledding. To me, it’s the perfect hill. The Cardboard Classic is a once a year racing competition. There is a small fee that goes towards the Gier Community Center Youth Fund so it’s definitely a wonderful way to have fun and help out the community.

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So now that I’ve told all the events you’ve missed, here are some still coming up!

CCFF & MBC Free Brew & View Series

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With Capital City Film Festival right around the corner they decided to add a little extra entertainment to the schedule. They are hosting three free movie viewings at MBC in Lansing that include some pretty great food and beverage deals. The first is Groundhogs Day on January 30. Before each feature a few movie shorts will also be presented. For all the details and more information click here.

Arts & Craft Beer Festival

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This event is being held at the gallery that I manage, AA Creative Corridor (the old Art Alley). It is hosted by the geniuses behind I’m A Beer Hound and the owner of  “REO Town Pub”, Roxanne Landes. The event will not only showcase Right Brain Brewery but many local artistic works including the City Saunter Exhibit. Tickets can be purchased here.

Hawk Island Snow Park

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In 2011 construction began on the new Hawk Island Snow Park. This urban snow park is one of its kind in the country and resides solidly in Lansing. This year round park is a staple for events, picnics, swimming, exercising and many winter sports. If you haven’t tried this place out, you should before we start to warm up.

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Fenner Nature Center

On february 7, 2014 Fenner is offering a winter night hikes from 6-8. Travel the trails in the evening to explore the activities of nocturnal animals. Then you can finish your walk at the bon fire where you can roast marshmallows.

If you are looking for something in a warmer month Fenner will also be hosting their annual Maple Syrup Festival. My family has attend this event every year and it’s always a blast. Interestingly enough, when we went in 2012 my daughter wore a halter top!

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TEDxLansing

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If you’ve been craving some intellectual stimulation, then TEDxLansing 2014 will be perfect for you. This event has produced quality events every time. TEDxLansing conference will be held February 28, 2014 at the studios of WKAR. You can purchase your tickets here.

 

Don’t forget Valentine’s Day is Friday February 14.

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