Saturday, January 29, 2011

Book Recommendation

Finally, a Saturday with no work!  Unfortunately, for Adam, he had to go into the office today- which gave me an excuse to stay in my PJ's until lunch time.  I had planned on reading a good chunk of a book, but I couldn't put it down and was able to finish it.  I would highly recommend this book to everyone.
The Shadow Wife is one of the books recommended to me by Amazon.  I enjoy reading various types of books, but the ones that always seem to be page turners for me are those that have a good love story involved in some way and are either real or realistic.  There are times when I'm in the mood for a deep love story that's like all the other typical story lines you read, but usually I'm more attracted to something a little different.

This book was one of those different types of love stories.  It follows a few characters that become intertwined by the end of it all.  They all share not only interesting love lives, but nearly all of them had struggles coming into the world or bringing their own children into the world.  I think everyone should check this one out.  I know you won't be disappointed.  Diane Chamberlain did a great job developing these characters and pulling at your heart strings along the way.  I plan to read more of her books very soon.

Now it's time to get out of the PJ's and start painting the dining room!  Happy Saturday everyone!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Random thoughts by Courtney Clapp

I hope you all can appreciate this title- if you watched SNL in the 90's you probably know where it comes from.  ANYWAY- I've been super busy with work this week and haven't had a chance to blog much, so I figured I'd drop in some of my recent random thoughts.

Who could live without Cinnamon?
Honestly who doesn't like cinnamon?  Now that the cleanse is complete, I've been using this in everything- it's my new favorite coffee additive (hello it's better than real or fake sugar), it's great on oatmeal and I made some delicious Mexican Hot Chocolate this week, so I'm all about this stuff.

Is it just me or is every famous person pregnant or new parents?
Maybe it seems that way to me because People is one of my iGoogle page feeds so I know all Celebrity News as soon as it breaks, but I swear everytime I turn around some new famous person had a kid or is getting ready this just a fad?  Let's see...Kate Hudson, Owen Wilson, John Travolta, Penelope Cruz, Jewel, Mariah Carey and Ivanka Trump just to name a few.  And Vince Vaughn had a baby??? When did he even get married?!  I thought he just broke up with Jennifer Anniston.

What will happen to "The Office" after Steve Carell leaves?
This has been a staple show for me over the last few years.  I often find myself laughing outloud (really loud) to the dry humor that makes this show SO entertaining.  Plus this is the only show I like that Adam will watch with me.
Now that Carell's final season with the show is coming to an end, I'm curious where it will go and I'm praying that Will Ferrell doesn't take it over.  I mean I do love Will, but I'm just not convinced he could fill the shoes of Michael Scott.

Who's idea was NKOTBSB?
I laugh out loud just thinking of it.  Does anyone even know what this stands for?

NKOTB(New Kids on the Block)+BSB (Backstreet Boys)
The two are combining for a concert that will change the lives of all 30 and 20 somethings that grew up loving these two groups.  I guess I'm at just the right age to be totally uninterested in this.  I do remember hearing friends buying NKOTB sleeping bags, but that was the extent of it.

Why doesn't Denver get snow that shuts down the entire city?
I turn on the news every morning only to hear that the Mid-West or Northeast is getting the snowstorm of the century.  Ummm I could use a snow day too!  OK, maybe I shouldn't complain too much, temps in the 50's is nothing to turn up your nose to.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

First Sewing Project Down

I mentioned that I finished these Valentine's Day hot pads a few posts ago.  They are far from perfect, but this picture doesn't show the imperfections well, so I thought I'd share. 

Whether of not they're perfect, they work!

Beach Bums

In two short months we will be lying on the beach in Florida- and I am SO looking forward to it.  The last time I visited my grandparents at their home down there was over 10 years ago- which is just crazy.  So, I've been dreaming of the sandy beaches, clear water and some much needed R&R for the last month.

I just purchased a beach bag that I'm loving from  We are pretty land locked here in CO, so I didn't want to spend a lot of money on a beach bag I'd only use maybe once a year.  This one is very reusable, and I'm dying to get it in the mail.

Now to fill it.

These are my must haves for a day at the beach.  Cute, inexpensive (yet still 100% UV protection) sunglasses from TJMaxx - $7 and floppy beach hat- $17.  I L.O.V.E. TJMaxx- at least the one close to our house is amazing.  They have a home store/section to TJMaxx called HomeGoods that is to die for.  I could spend a few hours in the place and spend half the money I would at my favorite "name brand" stores. But, moving on...another item I love is Urban Outfitter's nail polish.  They have a great selection of long lasting colors and their newest thing is matte finished polishes, that are very interesting. Next is the woozie.  My grandma got me one of these for Xmas which says "Wine is my favorite color", and I'm certain I'll need it while visiting her in FL.  One of my favorite magazines- Real Simple.  A Jimmy Buffett book to keep me in a beachy state of mind- face it JB can always do that.  Sunscreen with 30 spf to lather on after the first 30 minutes of getting some Vitamin D.  

OK, so it's still two months away, but I'm already tasting the fresh fish and sweet daiquiris.


These last few weeks have been very interesting for Adam and I.  We've learned a lot about finding ways to eat healthy and to challenge our bodies a bit.  There are some things that I've taken away from this whole experience- mainly things that I've learned to really love and appreciate.

Almond Butter-  I've tried some before and it wasn't super tasty.  I really love natural peanut butter- because I prefer less sweet peanut butter.  But we found this great almond butter during our cleanse and I will continue to buy it.  It has maple sugar in it, so it's still sweet for those of you that crave sweet peanut or almond butter.  I definitely ate a few spoonfuls of this as a snack over the past three weeks.  But it's great on carrots, apples and celery too!

Pineapple corer- I had never tried one of these before, and while we were shopping post-cleanse at Bed Bath and Beyond, I thought it would be a great gadget to help us easily cut up pineapples.  And was I right.  We love this thing.  All you do is cut off the top of the pineapple and this thing does the rest.  You end up with nice rings of pineapple.  Can't live without it now!

Smoothies- Ok, so I've always loved smoothies, but I've learned much healthier and tastier ways to make them.  Use Almond Milk, Coconut Water or Coconut Milk (all can be bought in the health food section) rather than regular milk or water. Coconut water and milk increase the taste of your drink without covering up the sweetness of the fruits you include.  And almond butter is great for those of you that like to add peanut butter to your smoothie.  There are so many wonderful fruits to use out there too- look in your frozen fruit section if you don't feel like cutting up fresh.  Also, if you want a little extra sweetness, add agave nectar or some honey.  Real Simple had a lot of smoothies in their recent February issue.  Some great combinations you might not think about.  There is no doubt that we will continue to make these for breakfast many days of the week.

Snacks after dinner- There is always this.  People are always saying it's not good to eat snacks after dinner.  But, as we all know- it's hard sometimes!  My general rule going forward will be to try and not eat snacks over 2 hours before going to bed.  It takes that long for your body to actually begin to digest all food your eat, so if I eat at 9 and go to bed at 10:30, my body is just turning all of my snack into fat cells.  I'm going to give it a whirl, but it will be hard.

Very little bread- As much as I love this carb packed food, it's really not good for my body.  There are so many other ways to get good carbohydrates and avoid adding the extra weight around the mid-section.  I honestly believe the reason I dropped inches around my waist in just the first week of the cleanse was because we cut this out of our diet.

My husband- I hate to sound corny, but he really was a trooper through this whole process.  There is absolutely no way we could have done this without each other's support.  I'm used to coming home and cooking dinner, and I enjoy it.  But over these last few weeks we've not only had to make juice for dinner, we also had to make the next days lunch and breakfast.  Adam always had the duty of making the juice and smoothies, and he helped clean up the messes we would make every night.  Plus, he learned his way around the kitchen a bit more.  I'm so lucky to have a guy that is so supportive and patient, and this whole process only made it more clear.

We celebrated our accomplishment last night by going out for dinner and dessert.  We ate at a local restaurant we'd both never been to- India's Pearl.  I had a filet and Adam had one of his favorite indian dishes.  Of course we got Cheese Naan (bread) and a glass of Cabernet.  Dessert was pretty over the top.  We each had a brownie AND a good portion of ice cream- which is still making me feel full this morning.  

Now that we are finished, I'm so excited to share more about the great wines we have at our weekly wine classes and some great recipes.  I can finally browse through my monthly issues of Martha Stewart's Everyday Food and plan to buy a new cookbook today.  I already have the grocery list ready and I will be doing lots of Sunday baking!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Quick Recipe, Quick Post

I wanted to share a great little recipe we've been enjoying for the last few days.  

Quinoa Salad
2 cups cooked quinoa
1/4 cup currants
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup chopped raw almonds
1/2 cup diced carrots
1/4 cup chopped mint
1/4 cup scallions- diced
1/4 cup lime juice
1 teaspoon agave nectar- honey would be a great substitute
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup olive oil

Mix these all together, and you have a great alternative to couscous or rice.  We eat this warm or cold, with chicken or just by itself for a snack during the day.  It's a bit sweet with the agave nectar and currants- so delicious.  You should definitely try it out.

Plus quinoa is great for you- it's a great source of protein (as it's from a plant similar to spinach) and packed with so many great vitamins and minerals.  It's vegan friendly too!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Almost Spring Organizing- Kitchen

With Spring quickly approaching it's about time again for the big Spring clean.  And with that comes re-organization of those spaces that always seem to get cluttered and even under used.  I've put together some of my favorite ways of organizing my kitchen, as well as other great ideas I've found.

To avoid digging out all your tupperware, pots and pans to get to that one that you want, it's ideal to have big, deep drawers where you can store them.

You don't have to remodel your entire kitchen to do this, you can also purchase and easily install these pull out drawers into your existing cabinets.  Without question, the deep drawers we added to our kitchen recently have been the the one thing I've appreciated the most.

And the lids!  Don't they seem to take over and end up scattered throughout the kitchen?  We chose to buy a couple racks which we set in our cabinet and use to organize not only lids, but also cutting boards and pans.

Another great idea is to add small
tension rods to your cabinets
which will allow efficient use of
those tall cabinets, and open up space
 where your pans were previously
 laying flat.
You can also find these racks that hang
from the back of cabinet doors,
which hold pot lids.
This is another great addition to the panty.
A pretty way to contain all those plastic
grocery bags.  It can easily be made with
a dish towel.
Pantry's can often explode when there is a door to hide the mess.  This over the door hanging organizer allows you to store smaller items off the shelves.  This would be a great place to put those spices and dry goods that you often use but always have to rummage for.

Now, for the items you actually want too display. Glass doors are a great option for the cabinets in your kitchen or even dining area.  Not only can you show off your favorite china or dishes, but it also makes your kitchen appear clean.
Simply remove cabinet doors if you don't want to buy all new glass doors

Open shelving is also an amazing option for displaying.  It makes a small kitchen seem so open. You can also add a long rod under your cabinets or shelves from which you can hang hooks for mugs or cooking utensils, hand towels, paper towel holder, mini shelves for the smaller containers which could hold coffee, tea or your favorite spices or herbs.

Another great under-cabinet item is this recipe holder.  It can quickly and easily be hidden, and it opens up prep space while
you're baking or cooking.

Storage containers are always a fun way to
keep a kitchen organized.  I love these jars-
 and you can add the glass etching on your
own.  Also, I think simple mason jars look
 great. I found the below jars at C&B.

Rather than buying a specially made shelf divider or new shelf.  Why not use an old plastic tray to maximize storage of your glasses and coffee mugs.

To keep my china from scratching, I put old fashioned coffee filters in between each piece when I have them in storage.  Just cut down the edges so they don't show.  You can also use these between pots to avoid scratching.
As someone that spends a lot of time cooking, it's very important that the things I need the most are easily accessible.We found this great piece of pottery at an art show and use it for utensils we need at the stove, but you could also use an old pitcher or a shorter, wide vase.

Drawer organization also helps with finding things quickly.  Having nice dividers in a drawer makes it pretty difficult to clutter.

And of course when the meals finished it's time to clean, and I love having these plastic pockets in our sink to hold our dish scrubbers.

Finally there's all the papers and mail that pile up on the countertops.  Rather than hanging things on the fridge, I covered a corkboard with fabric and added some ribbon for displaying our cards, pictures, bills, coupons and reminders.

Happy Organizing!

Sunday Sewing

Remember my post about making the Valentine's day pot-holders?  We'll I've almost finished both...but I'm not sure I'll be posting pictures.  This was my first sewing project since I was in middle school, and they didn't turn out as great as I would have liked.  They are still usable, but I probably should have picked a simpler project to start with.  Oh well, maybe when I'm a more seasoned sewer I will come back and make more.  IF my second one turns out better, I may post some pictures.

I definitely didn't let this first project frustrate me, though.  I've already bought a book with all kinds of great ideas.
Now, before you jump to conclusions, Adam and I are NOT expecting!  I was shopping at a cute, local craft store, Fancy Tiger, and asked one of the sales ladies which of their books she would suggest for a beginning sewer- and she said this one was without a doubt one of the best they carried because it had very detailed instructions.  So after browsing through it I realized many of the projects would make great gifts or could be altered a bit for adults.  Project #1 from this book will be a gift, and I'll be sure to post pictures once I can.  I am looking forward to spending most of my Sunday afternoon sewing while watching a great Lifetime movie (as long as football isn't on)- it brings me back to when I was little and my Mom spent her Sunday's sewing while I played with my Barbies.


Cleanse- Week 2

We are so happy to be complete with week two of our cleanse!  While this week was much easier- in terms of the way we feel- we are anxious to be able to get back to our normal eating routines.  Now that doesn't mean we plan to eat whatever we want when this fast is complete, but it will be nice to not feel so confined to the fruits, vegetables, nuts and proteins we’ve been consuming lately. 

I must admit, Adam and I have decided that we will slightly tweak the daily menu for the final week of our cleanse. We both lost more than double the weight that we’d hoped during the first week and a half of this diet, so we’ve decided to add more solid food to our dinners.  Those foods will still be items that are allowed on the Clean diet, but this extra food will keep us at a healthy weight and won’t allow for a lot of fluctuation. 

During the second week I continued to crave starches, and it shocks me that I haven’t had a noodle or piece of bread for two weeks!  That in itself is enough of an accomplishment for me.  But, the foods and liquids that we’ve been eating continue to be very delicious, well besides the terrible beet juice we had a couple nights ago.  I quickly realized how much I don’t like beets.  It made me remember when I was younger, and one of my little brothers would always pile his plate with canned beets from the salad bar.  I’d think that canned beets are much sweeter than real beets, but still to me they have a horrible taste and I can’t believe a little kid would love them so much.

We did cheat a bit last night with a Starbucks run.  We each got a tall (small) drink and mine contained decaf espresso, milk and a little bit of sugar- all of which are definitely not allowed.  But, we figured it wouldn’t hurt us too much. Adam laughed at how guilty I felt on our way there.  I just wasn’t sure we should cheat, but he had a good point- it’s better than getting something at Taco Bell.

And, since we’ve made all our meals for the last two weeks, we decided we deserved a lunch-out.  There is a Garbanzo restaurant near our house, which is a little Mediterranean grill, and we are anxious to get lunch there tomorrow.  Of course we will can the pita bread and rice that comes with the meal, but hummus, grilled chicken and the various salads are definitely allowed.   We haven’t quite agreed on what our first non-cleanse dinner will be, but we’ve definitely been talking about it.  I know for sure one of the first meals I’ll be making is homemade pizza!  Can’t wait!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Dreaming in Blue and Yellow

This year marks a pretty exciting time for all Denver/ Colorado residents....IKEA's opening!!!

I had NO idea how much progress had been made on the building until I was driving in the South suburbs last weekend- and I almost pulled out my phone to take a picture of it from the highway.  But, that wouldn't be safe.  So below is a picture of the plan for the building.  And it looked to me like all the walls were up already!
I also learned that there is a blog out there that follows the construction as well as great facts about IKEA.  Based on this blog, if the opening is 9/23/11 as expected, only 36 weeks and 2 days!  You better believe I'll spend a good portion of many weekends at this place.  I don't think it's possible for anyone to enter this store and not leave within 1 hour.  There are a lot of house projects on my list that would be made much more modern and inexpensive with this store.  

The blog I linked above also has an interesting post about some of the decorating and designing IKEA has done in subway stations across Paris.  As most of my work relates to transit oriented development around Denver, this is very exciting to me.  I would love nothing more than to be surrounded by some great ideas and products from IKEA while waiting for the light rail.

My love for IKEA began when we purchased our house.  We knew when we purchased it that we would have to re-do the kitchen, as the cabinets were from when the house was built- the 50s, and the space was just so inefficient.  So, I began to look at ideas for cabinets, and quickly learned that for the styles I liked we were going to have to pay double our budget.  Then my Mom and aunts suggested that I looked into IKEA.  I did and I was hooked.  We refinished our kitchen with all IKEA cabinets and appliances, in a style we absolutely love and all within our budget.  They have so many door styles to choose from that everyone would find a style they love here, and their products are great quality.  Some would think that because they are more inexpensive than any other products, they wear down more quickly and don't look as high end.  SO not true!  I have had NO complaints about their quality, and trust me- I'm picky, what I especially like is the drawer and door hinges have this component that make it really difficult to slam the door- so you don't feel like you are wearing down the frame of the cabinets and Adam doesn't make a racket when he pushes a little to hard on the doors (that is when he closes the doors).  
This picture was taken at my first trip to IKEA.  It's in Salt Lake City, and it was something I required be a part of our road trip to California.  As you can tell I was pretty stoked to be there.

So for those of you without an IKEA near you- this is more of a reason to come visit us this Fall!  I'm sure my aunts would enjoy a nice long weekend here.  Or maybe even Easter 2012? (You know who you are :))

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Cleanse Days 4-6

The last few days of our cleanse have gone great and we've felt very energized.  We've quickly learned what foods we like from the book and stuck to them.  For the most part we've written off soup, because many of the recipes are cold and very bland, which is somewhat depressing because soup is one of my favorite comfort foods.  Fortunately though, there is a recipe for butternut squash bisque that we are trying this week and I can't wait!

There have been some trying situations for me this week- the major one being the Chinese take-out feast that I witnessed at work on Friday.  Luckily I brought a stir fry that day, so having an asian dish helped tremendously.  But there were a few times when someone asked "Who didn't get an egg-roll?" or "Who wants a fortune cookie?" and I had to bite my tongue and continue to eat my food.  I did however open a cookie to see my fortune, and as tempted as I was to taste a little piece of it, I was able to simply drop it into the trash.  Also, I was pretty busy today working and driving around running errands and shopping, which always makes me hungry.  It seemed like everywhere I turned the fast food signs got a little brighter.

Apparently Adam has had some cravings himself.....

He was pretty proud of himself when he came home from work with two packages of sugar free gum- strawberry shortcake and mint chocolate chip flavored.  It's never mentioned in the book if we can or can't have gum, but we said who cares- we need to indulge a little!!

We just got back from grocery shopping for the week, and I'm glad to have that over with.  I could see the checker sigh as she looked down the belt at all the produce bags we had, but by the end she said "Wow, I wish I lived at your house."  I'm sure it seemed like we had enough to feed a family of four, but those vegetables get used up quickly when they're part of every meal.

For those of you that may be curious about what exactly is included in our daily meals, below is an example of one our meal plan for a day, and what all those meals include.  The goal is that everything be organic, but it's not always possible, especially if you don't feel like fighting the crowds at Whole Foods on the weekends.

Breakfast- Mango and Coconut Milk Smoothie (when I drank this it brought me back to our favorite honeymoon drink in Mexico, Mango Daiquiris- they really taste similar, less the rum of course)
1 cup Mango Chunks (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup Pineapple Chunks (fresh or frozen)
1-1/2 cups Coconut Milk (we make our own because it's easy and more fresh)
1 to 2 teaspoons Agave Syrup
1/2 cup ice

Snack- Dry almonds and fresh Blueberries

Lunch- Stir-Fried Vegetables and Chicken with Buckwheat Noodles
2 cups Buckwheat noodles
Sea Salt
Sesame Oil
2 Carrots
1 cup Broccoli florets
1 cup Snap peas
1 cup sliced Bok Choy
1 cup sliced Zucchini
3 Scallions
2 cloves Garlic
1/4 cup sliced Ginger
1 tablespoon Nama Shoyu or Wheat-free Tamari (tastes like soy sauce)
2 grilled Chicken Breasts

Snack- Pistachios and fresh Rasberries

Dinner- Apple, Ginger, Lemon and Spinach Juice
2 Green Apples
1/2 inch piece of fresh Ginger
1 Lemon, peeled
1 cup Spinach leaves

My total net weight loss thus far= 5 lbs, and I don't think that will fluctuate much going forward.  Unfortunately, Adam's lost a bit more and he's not happy about it.   He may end up eating more for dinner during the third week to increase his daily calories, but I plan to keep it going.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Winter reading

As some of you might have heard or read in my previous posts, my wonderful father and mother-in-law read my mind for Christmas and bought us each a Kindle.  Reading is a hobby that Adam has had since birth, but I recently picked it up and can't get enough.  Last night I wrapped up the book "Those Who Save Us" by Jenna Blum. Great book!
This is a novel about a German mother and daughter who lived in Germany during WWII and later moved to the US.  It was interesting to hear a story about how this war impacted Germans, women in particular, and how much of a struggle and tragedy it was for many of these families.  Something that isn't touched on nearly as much as the devastation the Jews faced.  I highly recommend this book for those of you that are interested in this time period or just want to read a wonderful story about a strong woman who overcomes so much to raise her daughter.

Next up:



There are so many more, but these are the ones currently in my que.