Month : November 2011

A must-try “diet” dessert…

…I promise, these Green Tea Truffels don’t taste even remotely “diet”!

My coworker lent me her South Beach cookbook and I promptly flipped right past the meal sections to DESSERTS. It’s phase 2, baby…bring on the dark chocolate and red wine (both in moderation of course)!

These are very easy to make and you can play with the flavor by selecting different kinds of green tea. I’ve made two batches (one a week – ha!) one with honey green tea, the other with orange green tea. You can really taste both flavors, and there’s something about a truffle that is very decadent. It’s easy to forget it’s a “diet” treat. It’s also easy to reach for a second…and a third…

Green Tea Truffles

1 bag DARK chocolate chips (60% cocao or more)
4 green tea bags
3/4 c. fat free half and half
unsweetened cocoa powder

Simmer the half and half in a saucepan. Remove from heat and add the tea bags for five minutes. Remove tea bags and return half and half to a simmer, then pour over chocolate chips in a bowl. Stir to combine until smooth. Stick bowl in the freezer for fifteen to twenty minutes until mixture is thick enough to roll into balls. Roll balls in hands and then roll in light coating of cocoa powder. Store in airtight container in fridge for up to two weeks.

 

meanwhile, back at the ranch…

…this is our life. Boxes and more boxes. We literally have nowhere to sit, so we eat our meals on the stairs or in bed. Even after selling, Goodwill-ing, and pitching what seemed like truckloads, there is still much to be moved…RELIEVED (to say the least) that we can start moving all this later this week!

door drama.

When we last left off, the neighbors were left blinking (hard) at this unsightly paint job in a shield-your-eyes shade of green.

Yes, the green was too bright. Understatement. But I’ve decided that what made it literally leap off the page and scream at passersby was the fact that the TRIM was painted green as well (someone mucked up, needless to say). I am slightly calmed by the fact that had this been done correctly – yes, I still would have wanted to change it – but at least it would have seemed a BIT more toned down. Heck, with a big wreath on the front I might have even liked it. Not that the neighbors would have… 🙂

So fast forward through a long holiday weekend mixed with a good bit of aren’t-we-done-yet, eleventh-hour builder v. buyer v. realtors v. developer drama. To make a very long and boring story short, we found out there is a covenant for this development that details – among many other things (no raising poultry on our land!) – the acceptable exterior colors for homes on this street. No shocker that martian green is not on the menu.

In our defense, I asked way back at our specs meeting in September about painting the door a bright green and if there were “rules” about colors. I heard nothing and obviously, the door was painted green without argument. Fast forward through a bunch of covenant drama, and we were finally told over the weekend that the door would be painted white in the interest of time and this week’s close as it all had to be finished and signed off on beforehand and there wasn’t time to approve a new color. We could submit paint colors to the developer and paint it ourselves comes spring (it’s gotten too cold here this week for exterior painting). Somewhere in the multi-email exchange surrounding this issue, I mentioned liking Benjamin Moore “Heritage Red” – a color I’d seen on many a red Googled door image. Fast forward to our walk-through with the builder tonight, and I pulled up expecting to see a WHITE door this time around…only to pull up to this:

I couldn’t even be mad about the COMPLETE lack of communication (our realtor had the same WTF look on his face that I did) – I’m just happy we have some color on the house and it’s a color we LOVE! It’s the perfect red – I can understand why it’s by far the most popular shade when you search for “red front door”. Kudos to our builder for cutting through the BS and making this happen!

And here she is at night, after we left our walk-thru…

Just have to make it to Thursday. There have been a few back-to-back drama items in the past couple of weeks (maybe to be shared at a later date…) and we are more than ready to sign on the dotted line and be DONE. I have to laugh…I keep wondering to myself if this is how pregnant women feel in their ninth month? 🙂 Let’s get this this over with already!

 

 

happy thanksgiving.

 

The holiday season this year has found us in the throws of busy work schedules,  and a build and a move. Taking time today to slow down and make note of our many blessings -  the greatest of which are our friends and family. We are thankful for all of you!

Happy Thanksgiving.

I suppose we were due a mis-step…

Neither of us has ever built a house, and we aren’t designers (at least not the home kind), so I was feeling pretty pleased that as the choices we’d made from tiny samples and swatches became reality in our house, we were loving every selection – from the granite to the wall color to the cabinets to the flooring. Go us.

As the title says…I suppose we were due a mis-step. And as a friend already pointed out, if you’re going to make a mistake in a finish, paint is the easiest one to fix. Still…if you want a good chuckle, read on…

As I mentioned earlier, we were excited to do a punchy light spring green door in contrast with our grey siding and white trim. We pinned this photo as our inspiration:

…and purchased this paint color to hand over to the painters.

Fun, fresh and bright….but certainly not the alien life-form green I saw when I pulled around the corner today and slapped my hand over my mouth to muffle a scream….

Holy S*#%!

It took everything in me not to stake a sign in the yard for the neighbors that said, “Worry not, this color is NOT staying!”

Do you see how it is actually GLOWING so much that it reflects off the roof of the patio?! And don’t get ask me why they painted the trim around the door green as well – to add insult to injury, sheesh. To be fair, it looks about a thousand percent better when it’s not in direct sunlight, but needless to say – this can NOT stay.

We were all over the place with front door colors we liked, and I suppose this will be a fun last minute surprise to show you all which way we end up going…but rest assured, it will not be martian/Xbox/flourescent lime green!!

 

Building Our Home: Week 10

Week 10 is complete…and the house is nearly complete as well. I was flipping through previous weeks’ posts and it was fun to see the progress in pictures. It’s hard to believe we will take one more “finished” photo next weekend before we close! Here’s a peek back at the past nine weeks…

During this weeks’ progress, our pillar has been built on the front patio and the stone to be added to it and the front of the house is in that pile you see on the driveway. Most of the sod has been planted, and if you squint (ha!) you can see one of two tiny sticks (aka trees) in our front yard. Because so many contractors have to come and go, the front door paint is the very last thing they’ll do…can’t wait to see it finally turn green! 🙂

Inside the house, the carpet has gone in, tile has been finished up, appliances have been delivered and the lights work and the water runs. A cleaning crew has been through (thankfully!!), and we’ll do final walk-throughs with both an inspector and the builder to cite any touch-ups this coming week. Assuming all goes as scheduled (fingers crossed, saying prayers!) we’ll turn our very own key in the lock a week from Thursday.

Just like that. Surreal!


It has been quite a journey and while the last three months have flown by, it also seems we’ve been immersed in this project forever! It’s crazy to think that less than ninety days ago, we were standing on what would become our lot, feeling almost out-of-body as our realtor negotiated away on his cell phone as we tried to close the deal. We sat at our kitchen table into the early morning hours that night writing up our offer and purchase agreement and within 24 hours the experience had begun.

We’ve learned a lot, and there are a couple things we might approach differently, but overall we have no major regrets and would do this all over again without hesitation. I overuse the word experience lately when referring to this build, but that’s exactly what it has been. It was an endeavor neither of us had taken on before and we have been in a head-on crash course and loving ALMOST every minute of it. 🙂

I look forward to posting some pics of moving weekend, an excursion to Ikea for the long-and-still-growing list of needs, and eventually some “before” pics of each room (because you KNOW there are projects to come once we get our foot in the door…did someone say “built in bookcases”?) Thanks for all the facebook replies and comments – we’re awfully excited and can’t wait to share more as our life in this house unfolds.

 

the beauty of photoshop…

So we have yet to move in to our new space, and new furniture has yet to be delivered. That doesn’t leave me with much to work with when trying to work ahead a bit and shop for accessories for our home and start pulling rooms together.

Enter the wonder that is Photoshop. 🙂

Here I can see what the Ikea chair and storage ottoman I have my eye on will look like together, and with the throw pillow and blanket I’ve ordered…so excited to have a spot in my office for reading book club books…hoping I’ll get more of them read once I have this space. 🙂

It also comes in handy for virtually playing with the dozens of throw pillows I’ve bookmarked for the living room and trying to visualize them on the new couch I don’t yet have to work with in person!

We purchased the above kitchen table and it is currently the lighter color of wood (shown left). We’ve talked about stripping the top and staining it dark to better match our floors. You have to love being able to see what it would look like BEFORE you make the irreversible mess and any mistakes!

Here’s to getting to “play house” with the REAL deal very soon! 🙂

 

south beach: what i’m eating…

I’ve had a few questions about meal plans and recipes, particularly in this oh-so-strict phase 1 of the diet, which does not allow carbs or sugars in any decent amount.

First, let me send you to my “Culinary Creations” Pinterest board – If anything is SB-friendly, I’ve tried to note it in the pin title. I’ve made a handful of things from here and they were all tasty! Many of the pinned recipes can be traced back to Kalyn’s Kitchen – she has a “South Beach” tab on her site and her recipes are awesome and divided up by the phase in which you can start using them. I’ve also been lent the South Beach “Quick & Easy Cookbook” by a co-worker and have found a couple things in there I plan to try.

Now, I don’t have the time to full-out cook every meal from scratch these fourteen days (or going forward in future phases), which would be impossible anyway since it seems I am eating about every three hours. Here’s what I’ve been eating for meals and snacks – both recipes and quick ready-made foods:

BREAKFAST:

I baked myself the egg souffle mentioned in my post here and that got me through breakfast for an entire week. This week, I’ve shifted to a glass of unsweetened almond milk (sweetened with a packet of fiber-enriched splenda) for a change of pace. 99% of the breakfast recipes for this phase are egg-based and I’m not a big breakfast person anyway, so I needed the switch.

MID-MORNING SNACK:

By mid-morning I’m ready for a snack. Either a piece of string cheese, or a couple pieces of celery with natural peanut butter. There’s something about peanut butter that seems indulgent when few other “allowed” foods on this phase do. I also keep packets of Swiss Miss “diet” hot chocolate (no sugar/few carbs) and will make a mug of this mid-morning if I need something hot. A half-cup of 2% cottage cheese is always tasty.

LUNCH:

Since I’m at the office 5 out of 7 days each week for lunches, they have to be packable and not require a fully-equipped kitchen to prepare. I love Boca burgers and will microwave one with a slice of cheese on top and eat with a fork (no bun!). I’ve hit up the nearby Panera a couple of times and eaten a chicken caesar salad – just toss the croutons and ask not to be given a side (no apple, chips or baguette these first two weeks). A couple of lunches I have planned for this week are both chicken and egg salads (one more week and I can put them on a whole grain bread for a sandwich). My lunch today consisted of half a red bell pepper chopped, a handful of crumbled feta, and about a dozen kalamata olives over greens and drizzled with a little balsamic and olive oil.

MID-AFTERNOON SNACK:

These have become almost an extension of lunch for me – sometimes I add one of these on to my noon meal if I’m extra hungry by then, otherwise I spread it out and eat one of these options around 2 or 3 in the afternoon. Often, I choose one of the options mentioned for mid-morning snacks, but if not, a wedge of Laughing Cow light cheese (the chipotle flavor is awesome!) spread on a couple slices of turkey or lean roast beef, then rolled up is delicious and keeps me full until dinner.

DINNER:

Dinner is where I take my time and really enjoy what I’m making and eating. I’m not rushed (breakfast) and I’m not limited (lunch) so I actually COOK most of my dinners, rather than grab some ready-to-go option. One night I made a bowl of Trader Joe’s roasted pepper and tomato soup (hot and creamy kept me full all night). Another night I sauteed sliced zucchini and some jumbo scallops in a little light butter spray (delish!). I’ve made the baked pesto chicken mentioned in my link above twice, and I plan to make salmon fillets a couple of times this week with some steamed broccoli. Over the weekend, I made a pot of ground turkey chili stocked with lots of veggies. My most recent dinner was buffalo chicken in the crock pot – put a package of frozen chicken breasts, a packet of Ranch dip mix, and a bottle of your favorite wing sauce in the crock pot and set on low for 5-6 hours. Shred the chicken and let it simmer another hour. This is awesome and it was suggested to me to mix it in with scrambled eggs. Genius – and I didn’t miss the tortilla or chips I might have originally put this on. If you can’t tell by now, you will not go hungry on this diet. Don’t overeat – but know that you can eat until you are satisfied, not until you’ve reached some portion size or calorie count.

DESSERT

I’m not going to lie – there aren’t many options here these first two weeks. Many South Beach blogs have come up with a number of variations on a ricotta cheese based dessert…but I haven’t really had the desire to try them. My go-to solution is a sugar free jello cup (my fridge is stocked with every flavor) with a little fat-free/sugar-free whipped topping. My other staple for sweet cravings is Blue Diamond cocoa roasted almonds. The almonds satisfy a rumbling tummy, and the cocoa powder gives you that hint of sweet that you need without overdoing it.

Overall, it’s pretty simple as long as you plan ahead. Pinterest has been an awesome resource, as has Google. If you simply search for “Phase 1 recipes” you will turn up a wealth of ideas – many, MANY more than you need to get through a mere two weeks. I’ll be sure to post more this coming week – I like to make sure a recipe is tasty firsthand before I share it!

Bon apetit!