I am told that I have an obsessive personality.  I won't deny that, but merely reply with, "I could be obsessed with worse things than I am."  And those who know me well, know that one of those things I'm obsessed with is finding ways to live healthier.  I exercise...OK, am "obsessed" with hot yoga.  So much so that I have had to make myself take a few days off because of a strained muscle.  That IS the problem with having an obsessive personality; you think you can continue on with the activity even through an injury.  Well, I have learned that is not true.  However, I have recently found another "obsession" that I believe EVERYONE should try...JUICING!

About a year ago, Ryan asked for a juicer for Christmas.  In researching them for him, we not only purchased one for a present, but also one for ourselves (that happens a lot; it's how we ended up with our gelatto machine!).  Ryan experimented with the best way to use his juicer and then passed his knowledge on to us.  And while I am sure he occasionally uses his to make fresh juice, I, on the other hand have taken this juicing thing to another level!

Anyone can and should juice, in my opinion.  There are many benefits to it as well (http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/11/13/benefits-of-juicing.aspx).  The type of juicer I got is a Breville.  You can shop for these online to get the best deal on a good one with an extractor (an extractor is a "must"!); Amazon is a good place to start.
 So, once you have purchased a juicer, you need to stock up on lots of fresh fruit and vegetables.  I usually buy a variety so I can mix things up; apples, oranges, grapefruits and pears are a good place to begin.
And don't forget your berries;  black berries, blue berries and strawberries.  I also like to add kiwi, carrots, spinach and cucumbers to my juices.
Here is my juicer all set up and ready to go.  You might be asking yourself what the deal is with the bag attached to it.  This is one of the tricks that Ryan taught us.  If you place a plastic bag in the extractor, you will have less clean up when you are finished making your juice.
This is where all the extracted parts of the fruit go while the juice is being sent to the other side.  Now, you can put most fruit in whole; whole apples, berries, grapes, pears, kiwi.  However, you must peel oranges and grapefruits before putting them into the juicer.  Once you have finished making your juice and it's time to clean the juicer, if you have placed a bag in the extractor, you simply remove it and throw it away.
Here is what I chose one day to make my juice out of:  grapefruit, apple, kiwi, strawberries and carrot.
I even had a little help from Parker Ann!  And I found that by letting her help me make my juice, she was more likely to drink it.  I think this is a great way to get kids to "drink" their nutrients, especially if they are picky eaters.
And here is the finished product!  Remember, however, if you use lots of green fruits or veggies, your juice will be green in color.  I wasn't sure at first if I could drink a green juice but it was delicious!
Clean up after juicing is really important.  I don't use any type of soap to clean my juicer with because I don't want to take the chance that there will be a soapy residue and my future juices will have that taste.  So, I just run the water really hot and clean out every part of the juicer and let it air dry.  This part you see here is where the blade is.  It has a very fine screen around it and must be cleaned thoroughly with the little black brush that comes with the juicer.

So, how about it... Are you ready to join me in my "obsession"?  You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by juicing.  Fresh glowing skin, more energy, better absorption of many different vitamins and disease fighting antioxidants galore!  Give it a try...I'm sure you won't be sorry you did.  and who knows...you just might find yourself a "New Obsession" too!

There is evidence that a lower carbohydrate diet is best for cardiovascular health. We have been taught that restricting fat intake is the key to lowering cholesterol. That theory has now been challenged by proponents of low carbohydrate and low sugar diets. Excess starch and sugar in our meal plans is likely what contributes to expanding bellies and clogged arteries.  If you would like to read an excellent article with great, healthy diet options, click on this Link  
to Muscle Zone.  You will discover the Complete List of Low Carb. Foods and a plethora of information about every food group.  This is definitely an article you will want to print and save for further reference.

Remember, there is no better time than the present to get on track with a healthy lifestyle!


First Boating Trip of the Year!

This past weekend we went to our lake house.  Have I mentioned how much I love it there at the lake?  It is so peaceful to look out upon the water in the mornings, sipping a steaming cup of coffee.   And I especially like it when the weather permits us to go for a ride on our pontoon.  It was one of those days on Saturday and we threw on life vests, light jackets, sunshades and hats and headed down the river toward downtown Natchitoches.  I call Natchitoches (http://www.natchitoches.net/events-and-festivals/ ) the town of a million festivals because it seems that there is always one going on in this historic town.  This particular weekend was the annual Bloomin' on the Bricks Festival.  All of the flowers are beginning to bloom and various potted plants have been placed along the brick streets, while vendors are set up selling their wares.  We pretty much know that springtime is here when this festival comes around.

                                With Robby at the helm, we set out for downtown Natchitoches.
                                                 Mimi and Poppa came up for the day too.

We stopped along the way and picked up Sarah and Parker Ann at a neighbor's dock.  Parker was SO excited to be going on the first boat ride of the spring!  I must admit that her excitement was contagious and I was super excited to be going on this outing too!
      And what's a boating trip without Poppi letting Parker Ann help him drive the boat?!
                       We were greeted by these beautiful daffodils where we docked our boat.
And as we were tying the boat up, Parker ran over to a bench where I snapped a few photos of her...

                                         And then I got Poppi to snap one of Parker with me...

                                                   Then off to the festival we went...
                                                     Where Parker got herself a balloon!
      Don't you remember when playing with a balloon was the most fun thing in the world?!
And then I spotted this Easter mural that was set up for kids to color.  Of course, we had to put our mark on it!

                                                 And the Book Mobile was there too!

Parker Ann has inherited my love for books and I don't know about you, but I think the Book Mobile is just about the coolest thing around!
                          And we saw the carriages out that day giving rides too.                           
                                            We stopped at a local dive for some lunch...
                                                   And later for some yummy ice cream!
                         And we couldn't go home before we made a stop at the toy store.

And after a day of springtime fun, we loaded back on the pontoon for a leisurely trip back home.  It was a great weekend, this first outing of spring on the lake.  YAY for warmer temperatures...I hope they are here to stay!


Our Gardening Adventure: PART 1, "Planting the Garden"

Robby and I both hail from a long line of gardeners.  Our parents and grandparents were involved in the "Going Green Movement" way before it was even given that name.  My maternal grandparents lived on a full fledged farm and lived off the land, so to speak.  They had a cow for milking, chickens to provide eggs and eventually eat the chickens, hogs and, of course, huge gardens that provided them with all the vegetables they could ever want or need.  I can remember sitting on their front porch as a young child shelling peas and butter beans.  I thought this was what all young children did in the evenings for an activity.  Now I know that I was assisting my grandparents in keeping up with their garden produce.  As I grew into a teenager and young adult, I still enjoyed eating fresh produce out of the gardens my parents grew.  However, the thought of actually growing my own garden never entered my head.  The cause most likely was the busyness of our lives with four children.  Now, Robby and I have finally slowed down enough to try our hand at this gardening thing and we both realize that it is going to be a trial and error experience.  That is why I have decided to title this series of posts. "Our Gardening Adventure".  Because "adventure", I am sure it will be.  We intend to attempt to not only grow our own fresh produce but to also venture out into the canning phase of preserving that produce for later use. SO...wish us luck on this "adventure" and if you are an "expert" gardener, yourself, please feel free to give us some advice!

We decided not to go with a huge garden this year since it would be a learning year for us.  Robby knew from people out in this area that the soil is a bit sandy so he decided that we should build a "raised garden" and fill it with lots of good soil.  In order to build a "raised garden" we had to do some sort of enclosure and settled on landscaping stones that were not only functional but also aesthetically pleasing to the eye.
I picked one of these up the other day because I remember that my grandmother lived by what the Farmer's Almanac said when it came to gardening.  She used to get them free at the drug store...I had to pay $5.95 for mine!  WOW...Times sure have changed.

 We attempted to choose the place that would receive the most sunlight.  Robby started out by forming the shape of the bed with the stones and then started filling it with the soil.

              In between trips of dumping the soil, Parker Ann and I leveled off the dirt using a shovel.

 Once all of the dirt had been hauled in, Poppi and Parker Ann began to finish off the garden wall.
Parker Ann was such good little helper but while we waited to put the plants into the ground, she also had a little imaginative fun too...
                                      These landscaping stones became rocks over a river...
                                  And then, she and Clementine had quite a few conversations...
                                           While wearing those "magical" red shoes of hers!
      OK...so, she gets her great sense of shoe style from her YaYa.  What can I say, we garden pretty!

                       Finally, it was time to take the plants out and get them into the ground...
We planted all sorts of plants; tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplants, bell peppers and squash.  We also planted two olive plants in planters, two orange trees and blueberry and blackberry bushes.
                                                 Getting dirty has never been so much FUN!
    We moved the blueberry bushes to a different location so they would receive more light.

                            The blackberry bushes were planted against the back fence.

                                       And here is the finished product...Our GARDEN!

I'm not sure how this little "Gardening Adventure" will turn out but I must admit that I am pretty excited about it.  Apparently, Parker Ann was pretty excited too because she woke up the next morning and right away told me, "YaYa, I think your garden grew last night!"  Time will, of course, will tell what kind of gardener I will be;  if I can be the kind of gardener my grandparents were.