Falling for FALL!

Autumn is my jam.  Nothing makes me happier than a crisp fall day mixed with cable-knit sweaters and hot apple cider.  But sub-80 degree temperatures is as close to fall that this Angeleno is gonna get.  We were blessed this weekend with highs in the 70s and lows in the 60s – I even had to grab a throw last night while reading!  Go ahead and roll your eyes East Coast readers – after the heat waves we’ve been experiencing, 60 degree temps feel down right frigid.  And I’m loving every minute of it.

With that in mind, I’ve been fully embracing this bit of fall we had this weekend.  I spruced up the place with a few pumpkins, some burnt orange mums and my favorite fall table runner.  I even splurged on a glass pumpkin candy dish at Target which is regularly $7.99, but was 20% off thanks to my favorite new app – Cartwheel.

Mini pumpkins!

Mums & fall runner

Pumpkin Candy Dish

 

I grabbed that Yankee candle too (Apple & Pumpkin Picking scent) as I needed a more fall “smell” in the apartment but it’s not my favorite.  I’ve tested countless pumpkin-sceneted candles in the last few weeks but have yet to find one I truly love that doesn’t give me a headache.  I’m open to any recommendations if you have found a good one!

Pumpkin Candy Dish & Candle

But the main purpose of today’s post is to actually share a recipe with you!  Anyone who has ever done Weight Watchers is probably very familiar with this one, but for those that aren’t, I wanted to share the world’s EASIEST pumpkin muffin recipe.  Now that a huge figurative weight has been lifted off me at work, I’ve decided it’s time to refocus on some literal weight and get my ass back in shape.

Now for the recipe.  You’ll need:

  • 1 box of spice cake mix (any brand will do)
  • 1 can of pure pumpkin
  • 1-2 egg whites (not necessary, but it gives the muffins a bit more of a cake-like texture and makes them a little less doughy)

Spice Cake mix

Canned Pumpkin & Egg Whites

Follow the directions on the cake mix box for cupcakes.  Most boxes recommend preheating your oven to 350.  While that’s preheating, mix together the pumpkin, cake mix and egg whites.  The batter will make anywhere from 12 to 18 muffins, depending on how large a muffin you want.  I err on the side of smaller muffins as I know I’ll be eating more than one no matter what size they are.

Next I scoop the batter in to the pan.  To make clean-up easier, I line the pan with cupcake liners.  It also will keep them from sticking together once they’re done as I just store them in a large ziploc.  For easiest portioning of the batter, I prefer to use my ice cream scoop.

Pop them in the oven.  I usually set the timer for 15 minutes, then check them with a toothpick (or knife if you don’t mind the gapping hole it will leave, which I don’t).  As I’m still learning the intricacies of my own oven, I popped them back in for another 4 minutes. Once they’re done, let them cool for a few minutes before devouring.  They’re not the prettiest things, but they sure are good.

Pumpkin Muffins!

For those of you counting points, if you divide the mix into 18 muffins, 1 muffin = 1 point.  But if you’re like me and eat 3 in one sitting, 3 muffins will set you back 4 points so just make sure you’re doing the math accurately.

As I’ve been making this recipe for years, I have altered it a few times.  Once I even slathered them with some WW friendly cream cheese icing and passed them off as pumpkin spice cupcakes for a pot luck.  No one knew they were eating half the calories of the real things.  So feel free to jazz them up however you see fit.  As I’m a total baking novice, I can’t advise on how they bake if you, say, throw in some raisins or nuts, but I’m sure they’re just as tasty.

My favorite way to eat them is for breakfast with a piping hot cup of coffee and my Steelers on TV.  It makes for a perfect Sunday!

IMG_4963

 

Share Your Heart

Last night I ducked out of the office (before it was even dark!) and headed over to West Elm for one of their DIY workshops.  This particular event was Valentine’s Day themed – crafting paper hearts to be sent to St. Jude’s Hospital where they will string them all together in an attempt to create the world’s largest paper chain!  And for each heart we created, West Elm donated $1 to the hospital.

photo 3

The actual crafting was free and they provided all of the supplies.  While there, I met some great people including a group of visual merchandisers for Macy’s, West Elm’s store manager and CJ, a stylist who runs their Instagram, @westelmla.

photo 2

There were also some great-looking refreshments, but as I’m still sticking hard core to my Weight Watchers plan (down 3 lbs so far!), I opted to just capture it on film.

IMG_4123

So let the crafting begin.  For my first heart, I knew I wanted it to be purple-themed in honor of my childhood friend Jill and all the kids like her at St. Jude’s.  I started out with a giant sheet of purple tissue paper.  I started doing a little ripping for a “rough edge” and needless to say, the finished project is not my best work, but I think the kiddies will like a heart option that isn’t pink or red.

IMG_4140

Next up, I snagged the roll of gold tape about as fast as I could and some letters for a little Jefe + Sledge action (that’s Geoff & Mallory for those new to the blog).  Of course, I opted for stripes.

IMG_4136

And lastly, I came across this ribbon at the bottom of a supplies bucket and knew exactly what to do with it – a little Kate Spade inspiration for a sickeningly sweet, picture perfect pink heart.

IMG_4139

So that about rounds out the night.  Here’s a little hint at what this store’s portion of the paper heart chain will look like strung up in St. Jude’s.

IMG_4141

If you want to catch some of the other hearts created, check out West Elm LA’s Instagram feed or search for their hashtag: #shareyourhearts.

Back In the Saddle Again

So turning 30 was kind of a big deal for me.  I made the ridiculous mistake of placing all sorts of arbitrary professional and personal deadlines upon myself that were not entirely within my control to make happen.

That said, the day came and passed without the world ending or me spontaneously combusting.  I came out on the other side with more realistic goals and outlook on life truly as an adult (what is it about hitting the big 3-0 that makes us feel like a “grown-up”?!)

So with that in mind, one of my goals this year is to get healthy.  As they say, it’s only downhill from here, so now’s the time to seize the day: lose the weight, gain muscle and finally conquer a 5K.

Yesterday I went back to my first Weight Watchers meeting in months.  I got a new weigh-in book and am starting with a clean slate.  I ventured over to Target and picked up some healthy snack options along with some stylish new workout gear (it’s all 40% in store right now)!  I swear by these pants, which I own FOUR pairs of:
C9 Champion Reversible Capris
Then I snagged one of these guys as I didn’t want my running sneakers to be the only thing with a pop of neon:
C9 Champion Pullover
And in an effort to drink more H20, I grabbed one of these Camelbak Water Bottles.
Camelbak

As I plan to be spending more time in the gym, I knew I needed some new tunes to pick up the pace.  I’m LOVING Lea Michele’s new single “Louder” and Macklemore’s “Can’t Hold Us”.

Lastly, I used the remnants of my holiday bonus to pick up a pair of new sneakers from Sports Authority.  They’re the exact same pair that I already own, but chose a another fun color combo to spice things up.
 Nike Dual Fusion Run 2 Sneakers

So this is me, putting it out there – I’m motivated, am back on plan and know that I can do this.  It’s one of the few things I can control right now and look forward to sharing results.

And if anyone is up for joining me for a 5K this summer, I’d love to find a running buddy as I’m a bit slow for my Jefe.

Eat the Ranch

My brother Casey was visiting LA for the long weekend and being the good older sister that I am, I asked what kind of food he wanted to have in the house while he was here.  I was mildly shocked when he asked for fruits and vegetables.  This was coming from the kid who is 6’1″, played tight end for a D2 football team, and used to put away Bagel Bites like it was his life’s calling.

IMG_2969

Exhibit A on the left

So last Wednesday after a grueling day at the office, I dragged my butt to the grocery store.  Being so exhausted, I took one look at the vast produce section of my local Ralph’s and headed straight for the pre-packaged party trays of veggies.  I hate to spend extra money on things that I easily could have done myself and although I do love my brother, I had no desire to stand in the kitchen chopping veggies after an 11 hour day at the office.  So party tray it was.

veg_tray_hv1

via

Sunday rolls around and Casey, Jefe and I head to the gym.  By the time we got home, we were famished, and had high hopes of eating something other than bowls of cereal or 3 granola bars as our first real meal of the day.  And as much as I just wanted to grab an ice cream bar or a few slices of full fat cheese, I opted for the veggie tray Casey had pulled out.

When I’m on plan for Weight Watchers, I try really hard to be hard core.  I define hard core as eating nothing in it’s full-fat form.  Regular JIF and full-fat yogurt are sacrilege.  I’ve been on or off Weight Watchers in some form or another for my entire adult life and have always abidded by this philosophy (which admittedly may have led to many a downfall in staying on plan).  Keeping that in mind, I took one look at the dish of fatty, oh-so-creamy ranch dressing in the center of that veggie tray and dug right in.  Five minutes after Casey and I had inhaled the entire tray, I had the realization: EAT THE RANCH.

As much as I wanted to prove how much of a rock star I am and be hard core as often as I can, diving right in to that dish of high-calorie dressing was the best move I could have made.  Although I took in some extra calories and grams of fat, I got at least 2.5 servings of veggies for the day and I was essentially full.  And I had avoided the 3 slices of cheese and the ice cream bar I was headed towards, which would have done much more damage to my points for the day than those few scoops of ranch I ate.

So for those of you counting points, or just trying to cut back, I say EAT THE RANCH.  It’s better being a little bad, and getting all the benefits of those veggies you just plowed through than to splurge 30 minutes later when you feel so deprived you’ll eat the first thing in front of you.

And as a bonus, I completed my daily veggie intake when we headed to Ford’s Filling Station in Culver City for their summer Sunday BBQ.  I made sure that our side dishes consisted of more than just mac & cheese or potato salad.  I feasted on marinated heirloom tomatoes and roasted corn with garlic butter.  That garlic butter gave me pause initially but just as I learned earlier that day, adding a little butter to corn is a far cry from licking the bottom of the mac & cheese bowl.

IMG_2971

So there you have it folks.  My Weight Watchers Words of Wisdom for the week: EAT THE RANCH.