Month : October 2011

heading to south beach

Unless you live under a rock, you’ve likely heard of the South Beach Diet.

I know – I would stop reading at this point, too.

Isn’t this that crazy diet where you can’t eat anything but like broccoli and water for weeks on end? And aren’t diets a fad of the past? They certainly aren’t a long-term success solution since eventually, with a diet, you go OFF of it. So yes – anytime I heard mention of the South Beach diet – or any other diet for that matter – my eyes glazed over and I all but tuned out.

Then recently in an exchange with a high school friend who has always looked fabulous, I mentioned to her that she still looks amazing now post-baby. I asked how she did it – and how she has kept it off more than a year later. While she did mention Weight Watchers for maintenance (another program I have yet to investigate thoroughly – the whole points thing I just don’t get), she said she kick-started herself with the South Beach program.

I was intrigued. I mentioned the convo to my coworker the same week. She, too, had done South Beach at one point to lose a few pounds – and had great success. Hmm. Two real-life testimonials that it did indeed work.

But back to all my nay-saying…as effective as it may be, I don’t want a “diet” – I want a way of life – something I can stick with, that is truly nutritious and satisfying and doesn’t leave me feeling deprived. Oh – and I’d like it to magically melt off the same 15 pounds I’ve been struggling with for far too long and I’m ready to be over them. For good.

I ended up doing a lot of online research and felt encouraged enough to pick up a copy of the book at my used bookstore. Three chapters in and I was sold. I wish they would re-brand the whole program and lose the word DIET – because while there is some restriction in the beginning, the program ultimately IS a way of eating for life – and nothing is off limits – a concept that is never true of a “diet” in the traditional sense.

I read a LOT of things that I never knew and was surprised to learn about this “diet” – for one, it was never meant to be a weight-loss fad. It was a program developed by a cardiologist (from South Beach) for his high-risk heart patients to get their cholesterol levels in check. The incredible weight loss stories that emerged were just a natural bi-product of the better eating habits.

Here’s the quick breakdown of how the program works. There is no sugar-coating it (literally) – the first two weeks (“Phase 1”) are hard – and many don’t finish them, become frustrated, and abandon the program altogether. During phase 1 there are no sugars and no carbs. None. Scary, yes. But clearly my under-educated attempts at eating right aren’t working and I’m in a good mental place to take it to another level and try something a bit tougher. Big effort = big result, right? Plus, it’s only two weeks.

When I first read “NO sugar, NO carbs” it was enough to scare me back into “yeah maybe I won’t do this after all…” until I used my new favorite tool, Pinterest, to search for Phase 1 recipes. Let’s just say there are so many delicious recipe options with lean meats, low-fat dairy, and tons of veggies, that I will have no problem passing the two-week mark. If I hadn’t searched this way, I probably would have come up with a couple things, burned out on them, and cut the two weeks short. I’m quickly learning to be successful in phase 1 is to PLAN PLAN PLAN – grocery lists, meal plans, and scheduling are all key. And while it seems like a lot of work, it’s only two weeks.

The point of Phase 1 is to cleanse yourself of old habits and old cravings. I’ve heard and experienced for myself that if you do something several days in a row, your body starts to crave it. If I eat carrot sticks for a week straight, on the eighth day, my body is asking, “Um hello…where are my carrots?” or if I work out for a week straight, I find myself itching to move on the first rest day. The same principle applies here – you omit the simple carbs and sugars from your diet – and in return, your blood sugar doesn’t spike and want even more. You start with a clean plate, if you will, going into Phase 2 and in case you’re skill skeptical, there is no mention of portion and no calorie counting. You eat until you are not hungry.

Phase 2 allows you to start working things back into your diet. Forgive me – I haven’t read ahead this far yet so I only know the highlights. You work a single serving of fruit back in each day (which already for me would be “normal” – I don’t eat much fruit), and some whole grains, still in a limited amount. For me, it’s not choosing the whole grain over the enriched product – it’s checking myself on the portion size. (I loooove me a big bowl of pasta!) The process of simply working things back into my diet will be good for me – a great exercise in hitting all the food groups. Again, there are no portions – you just hit all the food groups (same idea as when you were a kid – yes, you can have your pasta, but you have to eat all your green beans) and you stop when you are full, which is sooner than later when filling up on lean protein and high-fiber veggies.

You stay in Phase 2 until you reach the weight you want to be at. For the average South Beacher, between 8 and 13 pounds are lost the first two weeks, followed by a more normal loss of 1-2 pounds per week in phase 2. I’m hoping to hang out in Phase 2 for a few weeks and then move to Phase 3- normal, balanced eating to maintain the new weight.

So there you have it – I wish someone would have forced me to take a closer look a long time ago. I’m feeling very encouraged and anxious to get started. It seems a crazy time to add this to the list of things to manage right now, but there will always be an excuse to wait. And I’m hoping that if there IS any frustration the first two weeks, it will be overshadowed by house stuff to shift my focus. 🙂 I took several days to make the decision to even try this and I’m taking this week to plan out every single snack and meal option for the next two weeks, then I’ll hit the store this weekend. I have this thing about “starting” on a Monday – so a week from today, it’s on and I’m hoping all the planning in advance pays off. My hope is to check in periodically and maybe post a couple notable recipes from phases. Wish me luck! 🙂





Building Our Home: Week 7

I sound like a broken record, but I continue to be amazed at the speed of progress! With week 7 of the build now complete, the outside is looking much more finished with siding and shutters, and inside with cabinets, interior doors, and trim installed!

Look at all these cuts that “Travis the trim guy” has to cut…makes my brain hurt! (We made sure to stop by with thank-you snacks.)


No deck yet, but you can see where it will come off the house, and the lumber has been delivered.

I haven’t been able to get very many good pics in the master yet, for the last couple of weeks it has been the dumping ground for a huge pile of drywall scrap. My plan is to wait until the trim is all in and the doors and walls are painted, and I’ll come through with my fisheye to get some better “room” shots.

The view out our bedroom window.

Until next week! Can’t believe it’s already November!

Building Our Home: Week 6

Week 6 is now behind us! This week was an especially involved one when it came to the house. Page and our builder had agreed that while a licensed electrician must be the one to run all high-voltage items, Page was allowed to get in and run ethernet cable, speaker wire and volume control boxes for our in-ceiling speakers throughout the house. This was a pet project for him and he spent so much time going through the logistics of it all and carefully compiling his list of supplies. To be able to warranty our home, the builder would go through and check Page’s work, but doing it himself, we saved ourselves a nice chunk of change.

Because progress is moving so quickly, Page had a small window of time to get in after the electrician, but before the drywallers, so he spent many early mornings and late nights before and after work this week on-site with the crew. I think he loved being a part of it though – as fun as it is to just cut the check and watch the house come to be, it’s also cool to get your hands dirty and be involved in the creation process. And this week, that process involved electical wiring, plumbing (we have tubs and showers!), and window and door installation. Our heating and cooling systems are in place as well – and just in time. It’s getting very cold out there for the construction team! We made another modification to our deck plan, which they will begin constructing in the coming week or two. I’m hoping that will be if for changes/modifications.

Meanwhile, I’ve been working on some projects for the interior that I’ll save for another post.  We also learned that the backsplash tile we had chosen for the kitchen is no longer available, so I researched options in similar price ranges to take its place. It worked out wonderfully though – we picked so many finishes in a couple quick meetings and I was so happy just to have ANY backsplash at all (our current townhome lacks it) that I thought I was okay with what we picked. I seized the opportunity this time around to just focus on the ONE decision and went back through all the kitchen photos I had pinned on Pinterest. I had never noticed but 90% of them all had white subway tile backsplashes. This one in particular shows white cabinets and a granite very similar to ours – hoping ours turns out much like this (plus grey walls and dark floors)…love how light and bright it is! It’s funny the choices you get most excited about – I am totally psyched about this one.


Other than those small hiccups in progress, all is on track and we’re still hoping we can come in on our original close date of Dec 1. There are people on-site seven days a week right now – crazy!

I leave you with a few updated pics…

The welcome sign (LOL)



love that we can get an idea by now as to how much natural light we’ll have…

tubs and showers are in…

Sir speaker master…

garage doors and access to an attic we didn’t realize we’d have…

possibly the last time we’ll see the back of the house without the deck!

just call me nature girl.

Okay, so don’t call me that – it would be a huge lie. Anyone will tell you I don’t do nature and the closest I get might be laying at the pool on a hot summer day.

But when I saw this blog tutorial I knew I would have to put in a little outdoors time and craft this awesome candle votive for the cooler seasons.

I actually started this project a couple of weeks ago – and in truth, from start to finish, it only took me about thirty minutes total to complete. But because I chose a round glass vase to work with, I could only glue a couple sticks at a time without them sliding into each other and off of the vase altogether. This meant that the vase set up shop right outside the front door in the yard (the glue was smellllly – too strong for indoors) and during the past couple of weekends as we worked around the house to pack/organize/sell for our move, I’d take a quick break and run out to glue a couple more sticks to the vase. A couple per hour times about 30 sticks to cover the vase – you get why it took me a couple of days to get this sucker completed.

I highly recommend using this glue (but plug your nose) for any projects involving glass, wood, or just about anything else – stuff glued with this isn’t going ANYWHERE.

As for the sticks, I grabbed a bag and ventured out into the wilderness my yard. I had to laugh when Page asked me where I bought my sticks – I asked him why I would ever buy sticks when our yard is full of them. To this he replied, “Wow – that’s very…nature of you, honey!” See? You know you’re an indoor girl when your hubby is impressed you went stick-hunting in your own front yard.

So last weekend when my vase was about half-covered, I came across another post featuring this little project – a fave cooking blog (and local Des Moines girl!) Read her postto see how she made a similar version – but as a vase rather than a candle holder.

At some point during the project, I got annoyed with trying to line my sticks up perfectly with the base of the glass – rather, I let the edges of the sticks hang off in favor of getting the flattest/most flush points of the sticks to adhere where I needed them to. This meant I had to go back and trim many of them so that the bottom was flush and the vase could sit flat on a surface. Enter Page’s Dremmel tool – aka the dream machine. I few quick zips with this thing and my sticks were perfectly trimmed. Voila!

How are you decorating for the cooler season and what fall/winter projects are you working on?

Building Our Home: Week 5

We continue to be amazed at the speed with which these guys are framing – they are out there seven days a week trying to get everything framed and enclosed with windows/roof before it gets much later in the season. As you can see here, we have a second story…

…and windows and doors are in the garage waiting to be installed.

We have an electrical walk-through tomorrow so Page has been keeping busy taking measurements and figuring what we want where as far as outlets, speakers, and all other things techy (can you tell? Not my area of expertise…)

Meanwhile, I’ve been shifting my decorating focus to the upstairs…

Here’s a less-than-stellar pic of part of the master – I was trying to stay out of the way of progress…

And across the hall, Page’s office (again, being Mr. Measurements…)

A peek into the guest room down the hall…

…and across from the guest room, my office.

Photos were quick this week as it seems everywhere I tried to go, I was in someone’s way. I did manage to get around back and get a shot of the first window being installed (yay!)

Meanwhile back at our current homestead, I continue to operate in weekends. Not counting Thanksgiving weekend (we’ll be out of town), we have five more weekends between now and our close date. I’m trying not to freak about the amount of packing, furniture-selling, and organizing there is yet to do…. 🙂


Building Our Home: Week 4

Woo hoo – it’s a house!

We came by on Friday night and were floored (pun a little intended…) to see that we had a first story built…then when we came back out today to take a photo (Sunday) we realized they are definitely working weekends – we have flooring for the second story that definitely was not there the night before last. It’s pretty surreal to watch this all come together!

While we were walking around taking our latest batch of photos, we met a couple of our neighbors and learned that the house next door to us has sold. For the most part, everyone on our street is in their late twenties to thirties and there are lots of little kids (trick or treaters!!!). The neighbor we met today was saying she’s very anxious to get everyone together for a block party and meet each other – we are all over that and so excited to be in a neighborhood that will be social and friendly. Right now, our current neighbors mostly keep to themselves and we only know a couple of them…it’s strange not knowing the people who live just across the street and I’m looking forward to the change. We’ll definitely be paying attention to what’s in the water – there are currently three mamas-to-be on our new street – ha!

But back to the house…

Everyone keeps telling us it will feel smaller during framing and more “true to size” once there are actual walls – it is definitely hard to get perspective on how each room will feel until we’re a little further along…but it’s starting to look like a house and we can no longer say we’re going out to “the lot” for a weekly photo.


Here is a glance down the hallway at our front door (towards the left) and what will be a half bath toward the right.

Turning around from the same point – view of the kitchen, and far to the left, the pantry.

Page standing in our living room checking out the view.

There will be a door in that front hallway that leads down to the basement. We’re keeping it unfinished for now, but plan to finish it in the next year. This is where the stairs will come down and we’re hoping to put a small wet bar here. The hall will lead back to the larger part of the basement that we will probably turn into a media room.

Page sitting on the construction guys’ bench showing us where we can all someday watch the Hawks cruise to victory. 🙂

Still can’t believe how fast and long they’re working – and how quickly this is coming together! I’m out of town this week for work so I won’t get my typical mid-week drive-by that we’ve been doing every week thus far. Looking forward to seeing the changes next weekend!


color by room: liz’s office


I am SERIOUSLY excited about where I’m going with the vision for my office, which will occupy one of the spare bedrooms on the second floor.

I have had my beloved yellow for the past three years and while I couldn’t completely go without it (it will set up shop in our kitchen!) I am ready to change up the color vibe in my creative space. I was also ready to step up the girliness.

To begin, I’ve never been a blue girl. I wear a little of it, yes, but I don’t decorate with it, I would never drive it, I do very little with anything in the blue portion of the color wheel. And here I am, giddy with excitement to do a bright office in….cobalt blue! I am convinced a blue office was meant to be for me – unlike other rooms where I just looked around and made note of color combos I liked, this room really took some time to come into focus…but when it did, it was undeniable that this was the way to go!

Source: via Elizabeth on Pinterest


First of all, call me a broken record, but Pinterest is just amazing. Not only is it an incredible tool, but you learn things about your style the more you pin. As I scrolled waaayyyy back through my “House Becomes Home” board, I noticed this vibrant blue had struck me enough to pin, and much more than once. One of my very first pins was this door, complete with my caption: “Not usually a blue gal, but LOVE this hue…” We were just starting to house search when I began this board, so I wasn’t thinking too specifically yet. Then I came across these pins, not long after…



…with the caption: “LOVE that blue!”



I think was the pin that really caught my attention and I started to think of my office, for until this point, I had NO idea which direction I wanted to go in.

So I thought on this for a bit – could I paint my current desk a bright uber-laquered blue? Should I take this garage sale lamp that still needs a home and paint it as well? As I searched for “bright blue rooms” for inspiration, there just wasn’t a whole lot to be found – which intrigued me even more. I hate to do something that’s already been done many times over.

Then I thought of a favorite girlfriend of mine who embraced a bright blue home…

I was on a flight recently and discovered I had the SATC movie on my iphone, so I watched it during a layover. I found myself drawn to that bright blue yet again and in particular to this huge LOVE mural she had on her wall:

I loved the significance of LOVE in this movie – the keychain, the password, and of course on the wall. Just as it was hitting me that I wanted to channel some Carrie-esque energy in my office, I stumbled on this and squealed out loud. Signed, sealed, delivered. The office inspiration had been decided…and this WILL be on my office wall:



Does that belong in a girl’s office or what?! Love, love, LOVE it!

And then it hit me. Omg…

My office will be Manolo blue.

This is SO meant to be…


color by room: the living room

As I mentioned here, our living room and kitchen are all one large open space, so the colors need to blend together. My favorite hue (yellow) will take center stage in the kitchen and Page’s fave (green) will make up the living room area, with our neutral grey color running throughout the space.

I don’t have a photo of course, but here’s a spec house photo from our builder – picture dark wood floors instead of carpet, light grey walls instead of beige, and that same white woodwork. Because of our garage, those two small windows will not be there – which is okay with us, because we plan to add built-in bookcases on either side of the fireplace (yay!). A small bonus here is that Page gave the builder the dimensions of the tv that will go in the recessed area above the fireplace so he can build it to those dimensions – rather than having height or width gaps, it will be a perfect fit!

We went neutral on the “big stuff” and purchased a grey sofa, and two big armchairs and a large ottoman. The plan is to bring color in just about everywhere else. I’m on the hunt for a cool flea-market-price-range coffee table that I can paint green and maybe add some pattern to. I’m sure I’ll be asking this talented lady for some help!

I am also totally into garden seats and want to add one as an impromptu side table somewhere in this room. A few that have caught my eye are this one and this one, but let’s be honest…you know we’ll go the color route. And at a favorite furniture consignment store the other day, I stumbled upon one in our featured hue, similar to this one:


I’m hoping to use the existing table and floor lamp we have now, but I’d like to lighten up the taupey-colored shades. Anyone have any tips or experience to share? I thought about bleaching them or painting them with fabric paint. As a last resort I’ll just replace the shades altogether, but the frugalista in me wanted to at least try something else first. Plus, the shade on our floor lamp is a huge drum shade – and I have yet to find one that would fit that isn’t upwards of a couple hundred bucks…and I have better places to spend $200 right now, thank you very much.

On a semi-related note, have you tried I didn’t take the time to really “learn” the whole program, but I love that I can build our room dimensions, doorways, and windows and add/arrange furniture with the exact dimensions of what we own. Ignore the crazy colors – and the fact we have two sinks and stovetops… I didn’t take the time to “polish” any of this, but here is what I’m thinking as far as furniture arrangment on the first floor:

Voila – the green and grey living room! I’m getting so excited to move beyond pictures and inspiration boards and start working on the REAL deal…. 🙂