I Drank the Erin Condren Koolaid

And now I’m actually blogging about it! But only because my friend Cassie wants to see photos of what I’ve done – though my friends need to share with ME their photos of what they’ve done…cause that’s what adults with EC Life Planners do…apparently.

Love the planner, don’t love the stickers and markers so much. So I’ve tweaked my own a little. I like the stickers that it comes with, but I don’t love. Also, I love pockets! All of my clothing including PJ’s and panties have pockets – no really. No they don’t, but I wish they did.

So my “improvements”


You’d think they’d have this down, but you can’t beat a good Sharpie or PaperMate marker. Also the markers don’t function that well as dry erase markers when need be.

Labels and Stickers and More

Leave it to Scotch tape in 2015 to be nothing short of fabulous. They now have color and printed tape, for scrapbooking of course. But we can hack it for our life planner. I love this for custom sizing, I can make it a label for an entire page or span across times, days etc. for long appointments. Also makes for fun decorative dividing.

Also PostIt now makes a fully glued back for their post its…what took them so long? So now instead of flapping pieces of paper, you can make it one with your page. The best part is you can move these notes if need be, no re writing or scratching out.


Why not add pockets, and you can buy clear business and document holders with full sticky back! Just why not?!

More to come I’m sure – so how have you customized your planner?

Period Piece Dramas

1. Downton Abbey – this has become a popular one and most people know about it, which is great. Unfortunately many Americans think British television begins and ends here and they compare everything to this show, don’t be that American. I first discovered this show when season one was out on Netflix and then sat around and twiddled my thumbs for about a year waiting for season 2 to rear it’s head. It did not disappoint.

The show opens somewhere around 1914 with the sinking of the Titanic, then takes you through World War I and we are now heading into the Depression. The social dynamics of the show are what most people love, a country, a culture, a staff and a family trying to hold on to tradition and a legacy while the world around them rapidly begins to change.

Here in the states you can catch it when it airs on PBS Masterpiece Sunday nights. If you need to catch up with the past seasons you can look on Netflix, Amazon (etc) or your library or purchase the DVD’s

2. Upstairs Downstairs – remake. The original Upstairs Downstairs was produced by the BBC in the 1970s. I think they did a good job with the remake, season 1 was a bit fluffy but it definitely started gaining some bite towards the end. Season two was fantastic! The show starts pre World War 2 and is more of an introduction to the characters and their interactions with each other. Similar to Downton Abbey, you see the dynamics of the staff and the household and their place in society as well as with each other. Season 2 starts with the threat of war and the outcome of that threat. I’m looking forward to season 3, a country at war.

Upstairs Downstairs can also be seen on Netflix etc, season 2 just ended but when the show resumes you can catch it on PBS Masterpiece on Sunday nights.

3. Hell on Wheels - two words, Anson Mount. The hero and the villain of the wild west, Cullen Bohannen played by Anson Mount is a heart throb and a half! The show takes place in Colorado post Civil War with the expansion of the railroad to the west. You have murder, mayhem, vengeance and everything that makes a western a western. This is basically like watching your favorite western movie every week. The character development is outstanding and the plot definitely has you on your seat. I hope AMC brings it back for another season – I hope I hope I hope.

Hell on Wheels can be seen on AMC

4. The Hour – Not sure how I missed season one but I saw season two being advertised and found season one on BBC on Demand. 1950′s cold war era England being played out on an hour long news show produced by the BBC. It has espionage, political unrest, and great acting. I’m really looking forward to season two after the cliffhanger of season one – who’s the KGB agent at the BBC?! And, it has Dominic West in it, I’m sold!

The Hour can be seen on BBC America – or your local BBC station. Season two starts November 28th.

5. Mad Men – Of course I have to include Mad Men. One of the most successful period piece dramas on American TV since maybe MASH. The advertising world of the 1960′s. Smoking, drinking, affairs, failures and success. There isn’t much to say about Mad Men that hasn’t already been said. So I’ll leave you with the details.

The show airs on AMC, currently they are on hiatus, rumors about why, I have no idea nor do I care, just hoping it comes back soon. You can catch up on past season on Netflix etc.

6. Copper – I wanted to like this show. Set in New York post Civil War, it has all the grit and drama to make it a great show. There is something lacking in the characters of the show that leave it a bit flat for me. However, this is simply MY opinion and I wouldn’t deter anyone else from watching a good period piece program.

Copper airs on BBC America – check it out and formulate your own opinion.

7. Ripper Street – coming soon BBC – I’m excited about this one. The show takes place post Jack the Ripper in East London’s Whitechapel, an area where dock workers, factories and workhouses dominate. A time when crime was at a high and the government were determined to clean up East London. It stars Matthew Macfayden, whom I love.

The show will air in the states on BBC America January 19th.

I Like Big Books and I Can Not Lie

I can lie, but I do love me a big book. This line popped in my head and I thought I was just so clever, flash forward a few weeks I see this cheesy book bag from some librarians book club – gah, oh well, I’ll sue them later for infiltrating my thoughts.

Back to big books – I love me a big ass book! I get heart palpitations when a book I’m excited about already turns out to have well over 500 pages – the more the merrier right? I might even do a little jig if it’s somewhere around 7 or 800 page and I go all out hand stands and flips if I find out it’s a series and each book is going to be equally big if not bigger.

So people are always asking for book recommendations, and I’ll quickly give a shout out to a fantastic sight GoodReads – wonderful source for finding books. You can follow your friends and even your authors to see what people are reading – no I didn’t get paid for that. But here are some of my favorite Big Ass Books!

The Outlander Series

Outlander, book 1

Oh how I love thee Jamie and Claire, let me count the ways. I love that this series has been going on since the early 90′s. I love that each book is well over 500 pages. I love that there are about 6 of them and probably will be at least two more. I love that it deals with one of my favorite regions, Scotland. I love that it has a little bit of sci fi sprinkled in with a lot of historical fiction – time travel at that! I love that it’s a bit steamy in parts. I love that after one book you KNOW these characters, you know their humor, their quirks, their issues and their fears, they are indeed old friends.

I’m not sure I 100% love that it might become a min series, there are just times when books are better off as books. And where the book communities should guard them away from the tv/movie communities. I mean a movie is a movie, you don’t have to have any imagination what so ever to enjoy a movie, everything is spoon fed to you and it just is what it is. A book is an endless possibility of options, and I’ve read this series at least 3 maybe 4 times, I’m not sure I care to see someone else version of this story or their Claire, their Jamie. And what if they leave certain characters out or down play them like Murtagh or Master Raymond? The horror!

The Greatest Knight: William Marshall Series

William Marshall Series – book 1

Note: There are additional books that accompany this duo, some sites mark them all together as “The Marshall Series”. Really these two stand alone and the others are parsley on the plate.

This is a two part series about William Marshall, who was a knight under 6 Kings I think. King John II and all his sons, so count them up on your own if you’re so inclined. Book one is about his life, his story of a scrappy little teenager grown into a man. The second book is about his life with his wife and children and follows till his death. The interesting thing about this book is there are some actual diary and eye witness accounts that the author wrote from, so you really feel like you are there at times! That may not seem like a big deal, but we are talking middle ages here, the fact that these writings have been preserved is an historians dream come true!

Grab your hankies on book two though, the story in book two is really fantastic and you will absolutely fall in love with William and his wife!

Also if you like historical fiction, I think you’ll like Chadwick. She’s a fantastic storyteller and very meticulous with her research. She leans quite a bit to telling Queen Elanor story as she is such a misunderstood and misrepresented historical figure. But I love Chadwicks writing and have found great consistency with the quality of her books.

Discovery of Witches: All Souls Trilogy

All Souls Trilogy – book 1

I recently stumbled on this book because the second in the trilogy came out this month. It’s high fantasy meets historical fiction, and while the writing is a bit lighter than what I expected I really did enjoy it. I’m excited for book three to come out though I really don’t look forward to the author wrapping up this story as I have fallen in love with the characters.

Note, this is pure beach reading in my opinion. You’ll learn a bit about Elizabethan life in the second book, but for the most part it’s just a fun series not to be taken too seriously.

Fall of Giants: The Century Trilogy

The Century Trilogy, book 1

Man I’ll tell you, when I first saw this book and knew the author had a tendency to go very deep into subject matters I was a little overwhelmed. This is the king of big books! But Follet has a way of telling a story where the page numbers just fly by. This is a fantastic read for those that like epic stories, it begins with reference to the Titanic and goes through World War I, which if you know was a long and painfully brutal war in which no one ever had much of a grasp as to what they were fighting for or why, think Viet Nam for the early 1900′s.  Follet’s character lists span the globe and go from England to Russia to Germany.

I’m a little apprehensive about where this trilogy is going, he covered a lot of ground in the first book and I’m sure he will in books three and four. Of course the second book is going to cover the Depression and World War II and maybe the Cold War through Korean War in book three? If that’s the case some of my favorite characters of course will perish if not from a bullet then from old age, and we will be introduced to a new generation.

This is why I tend to like series over epic novels, time goes on but the characters stay the same where as an epic spans generations so people leave, oh well!

Update – the second in this series is now out, I’ve had this post in drafts way too long obviously. It’s Winter’s End, I haven’t read it yet but am anxiously awaiting the day.

Pillars of the Earth

Pillars of the Earth

This technically is a two part series but really you can read the first book on it’s own, I haven’t read the second book yet but hear it’s different enough that the first could stand alone. Wonderful story of the time of King Stephen and his madness and terror and  an architect and his family that make their mark on the world through the new and innovative designs displayed in a church.

Game of Thrones: Song of Ice and Fire

Game of Thrones

I am just getting into these. I was really disappointed in the TV series, they took the script verbatim from the book but they completely enhanced the sex scenes. As a result the TV series is a rather uncomfortable porno I would say. Whoever developed those scenes has some serious sex therapy to go though. The book isn’t like that and of course your imagination is your own.

Anyway, this is fantasy meets period piece fiction. A monster list of characters, but the dialogue is similar to Follett, very easy to follow and very easy to get wrapped up in the story.

Holidays are coming, put away the need to be busy and escape with a big book, it’s happiness in the making.

Chocolate Sun Butter Cookies

I was having one of those cravings. Wanted salty and sweet, and chewy….cookies!!! I love cookies, they are my weakness. They are a treat and I treat them as such – wow let’s work the word treat in too many times here shall we? This is MY wholesome version, wholesome because it contains all real ingredients, I don’t do fake sugars or random additives to make them lower in calories because all that does is decrease the quality of the food in my opinion. So nothing that’s going to give this a weir d aftertaste where you feel obligated to eat them because you made them and because they are “healthy”

I LOVE sunflower seed butter and it’s great to bake with, it has a strong flavor, stronger than other nut/seed butters. It’s usually safe for those with nut allergies as it’s not a nut. It’s delicious! You can find it at most grocery stores, or you can make it yourself with a food processor.

A note on the dark chocolate, I like 80% or higher, if you don’t want to a large amount then buy a single dark chocolate candy bar and chop hunks off of it, I used three squares off of a candy bar. You can also buy dark chocolate chunks or chips. I recommend this over milk chocolate as it’s more pure in chocolate, doesn’t have a lot of added sugar like milk chocolate and gives these cookies a really REALLY great flavor. Plus keeping that dark of a chocolate in the house isn’t a temptation to me, I’ll nosh on 72% but nothing higher, too bitter by itself.

Enjoy friends, so far these have been a hit, I had to share with the office as it was too tempting to sit in front of Grey’s Anatomy last night and cry and eat my cookies!!!

FAQ’s of all this

So I have gotten quite a bit of questions and response from people wondering something things – I’ll cover all that here.

1. Do you drink caffeine?

YEP! I love my morning coffee so that’s usually it for me for the day – which is how I’ve always been. I was never an afternoon coffee drinker and had cut out sodas summer of 2011, so nothing new there. Recently to cut down on certain fats I cut out half and half in my coffee and to cut down on sugar I slowly cut that out too. Now I drink it black, I had to grow into this but now I like it.

2. Do you drink alcohol?

Occasionally, this was a big change for me. I’ve been a social drinker for a long time. But when I started eating clean something happened and suddenly I couldn’t drink the way I used to. Holding weight in your middle can also be attributed to alcohol – sugar and it ups your estrogen, even in men – so now I drink a glass of wine or cocktail about once a week, I might have two a week. But really I feel better when it’s only one as I just don’t feel great if I have more, I love having energy and being able to workout almost every day so I really don’t want my energy and sleep messed with!

3. Do you eat carbs?

Ok well first of all let’s clarify what carbs are and when diets say no carbs what they are really saying? Carbs are anything from bread to pasta to vegetables and fruit. When people keep carbs out they are usually trying to keep grains out of their diet. But any diet that makes fruits and veges the bad guys are suspect to me.

Now to answer, I limit my grains. It took a long time for me to get to that point, but I have more energy when I do, I loose fat more easily too. I taper off in my day. So grain at breakfast, little or none at lunch, none at dinner. I don’t think grains are evil, but we do over consume them in our diet. They break down as sugars in the body which give energy (which is why I like to eat it at breakfast) but unless you are a runner or do a lot of cardio in your day your body is fine with having a little and not a lot. The grains I eat are usually sprouted grains as that’s the most pure form of grain, very little processing.

A few days ago I had a tortilla with lunch and quino with dinner – I ate my way through the earth from lunch on. I could not get enough food, it was ridiculous. I’ve decided that for ME, eating grains after a certain time of day makes me hungrier, it could be the type of grains though so I don’t have this completely resolved – and everyone is different on this.

4. Do you eat desserts?

Yep, not everyday and when I do I try to keep the sugar low. Often I’ll eat coconut ice cream as it’s a plant based fat and I’ll add shaved almonds and fruit – its fantastic and I’m getting some fiber and protein along with a plant based fat. It does have sugar so I make a very small dish. Enough to satisfy. It’s not cheap so another reason to keep the dish small. When I bake I never use the amount the recipe calls for, I use more natural sugars I’ll even put dried dates in hot water puree them and use that for sugar. But tapering back on how much we consume is key, American desserts are VERY sweet and our guts are showing the evidence of that.

5. Do you eat out?

I do, I have a splurge meal every week where I eat out with family or friends. I don’t overeat though and I like to go to local restaurants that I know have higher quality ingredients – so no Chilis for me – blech! I want GOOD food! Often though I’m disappointed as the menus lack variety of the quality isn’t great, so it’s a challenge – my food is yummy at home ;-)

Occasionally I’ll have more than one meal out that week because of social events etc – I plan when I do, I eat well that day, make sure I don’t skip my workout, work a little harder and drink a lot of water. Before the happy hour or what have you I may make a small protein shake at home to get some nutrients and fill me up a little.

6. Do you eat meat?

I do, red meat about once a week, fish and chicken a lot more. It takes red meat longer to digest so I limit it, veges help in that digestion though so that’s good. If it’s in my house it’s organic, grass fed, free range or wild caught – all the buzz words. Why? Well besides the fact that antibiotics and hormones are in the other kind, animals don’t get the nutrients they need when they aren’t fed grass and they aren’t out in the sun, B12, CLA and loads of other vitamins. The crazy thing is they are showing that we are lacking a lot of nutrients that we as carnivores should have – well that’s why! Plus it tastes better, isn’t as fatty and tastes better, oh did I say that already?

7. How religious to all this are you?

Ummm pretty religious I’d say. Listen, Ive lived the life of “I know I should do ____ but I don’t so I’m just going to beat myself up for not doing it or wish that I was”. THAT allows a lot of self negativity into your life, who needs it? I don’t. Plus I feel great and I WANT to be different so it’s just who I am now.

8. Do you workout a lot, is that why you feel this way?

I love working out, I used to workout a few to a couple of times a week and usually working out and eating well went hand in hand, where there was one there was the other and when one wasn’t present the other wasn’t either, I think most people feel that’s true in their lives.

In December when I cut out fast food I was working out 2-3 times a week, usually 2. I dropped 10 lbs without exercising 6 days a week. But now I really enjoy the challenge, and as these last few lbs are much harder, exercise really helps. Plus it clears my head, helps me sleep better and increases my physical abilities. So now I move every day and try to work out 5-6 times a week, it does not account for 100% of my journey though, and unfortunately people truly feel they can eat whatever as long as they work out – false. You’ll never out train your diet – never!

9. So where do you recommend I start?

I would start by cutting out processed foods and fast food, go to all real foods. Even if its bread or pizza or what have you, make sure it’s something that is real not take out or frozen etc. Start making as much of the foods you eat as you can. This will help you learn about foods, learn about yourself and learn about how to plan in your life. Also it gives you a reality check of what you have been doing. It’s totally different preparing your foods and running through a drive through – and you’ll get this once you’ve done it a bit.

Experiment with foods, recipes etc – doesn’t have to be perfect, just has to be you. And realize there is a difference between fulfilling hunger and fulfilling boredom, loneliness etc. Who cares if it’s not the best hamburger you’ve ever had, it’s just food, you’re hungry and you need energy for the rest of your day right – so eat it and make it better next time. This hamburger is to fulfill hunger, not fulfill you!

The Now Infamous Fig Bars

Man these things ended up rocking. I searched high and low on the internet for a recipe and couldn’t find one, most called for dried figs, sigh.

So I took this recipe and made it my way! http://allrecipes.com/recipe/delicious-raspberry-oatmeal-cookie-bars/

For the filling you’ll need fig preserves

Fig Preserves

In a sauce pan add chopped up figs and water. (about two cups figs to one cup water should be fine)

Add some really thinly sliced lemon – really adds flavor – this ingredient is a must in my book.

Add some cinnamon if you want and about 2 cups of raw sugar can or brown sugar – more if you want it sweeter.

Let boil – and that’s it.

Now for the crust

That’s it!