Monday, February 28, 2011

over the weekend.....

sun. snow. snow. snow. sun. melty snow.
the recipes:
black bean and hominy soup
Sometimes I just dump stuff in a pot and call it here's a soup that there isn't really a "recipe" for, but if you like to throw things together too, I'm sure you will figure it out easily.
1 onion, 3 garlic cloves, large handful roasted red peppers, 1 can black beans (drained and rinsed), 1 can hominy (drained and rinsed), 1 can diced tomatoes, 4 cups chicken broth, large pinch of ground chipotle flakes, small palmful of chili powder, s&p to taste. Top with avocado and cilantro.

Chocolate Cake with Coconut Milk

this cake is rich and fudgey with just a hint of coconut.

2 ounces fine-quality semisweet chocolate
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup boiling water
6 TBS butter, melted
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup coconut milk
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Line bottom of pan with round of parchment paper, butter paper, and sides of pan.

Finely chop chocolate and in a bowl combine with hot water and cocoa powder. Let mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.

Into a large bowl add flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl with an electric mixer beat butter and sugar until combined. Add eggs (adding one at a time) until thickened slightly and lemon colored (about 3 minutes). Slowly add coconut milk, and melted chocolate mixture, beating until combined well. Add flour mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined.

Pour batter into pan, and bake in middle of oven until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, ***NOTE! my timer died in the middle of baking! haha so I have no idea how long I baked it....start checking at 20-25 minutes or so.*** 

Cool cake completely before frosting.

Chocolate Coconut Buttercream
6 TBS butter
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3-6 TBS coconut milk,
1/2 tsp - 1tsp pure coconut extract, depending on how coconut-y you want it.
(be sure to get pure coconut extract, and not imitation, or your cake will taste like sun-tan oil.)

Beat butter, cocoa, powdered sugar, and coconut extract, and add coconut milk a little at a time until you reach a consistency you like.


Friday, February 25, 2011

friday senses

....a little look at the past week...

...dollhouseonion copy...

Making: A mess. I am having that get-rid-of-everything-spring-cleaning/purging feeling but I don't really have the time to fully execute it yet. So I'm just pulling stuff out of closets and making piles all around the house. Awesome, huh? Anyone have any awesome spring cleaning tips?
Laughing at: Modern Family!
Seeing: Quails everywhere....I can't wait for those little babies to come!
Hearing: Non stop whistling from the boy....he picked it up a few weeks ago and his song of choice is the Star Warms theme song. Aaaaaaaalllllll day long. 
Smelling: Charly. Not good.
Tasting: Whitney's brussel sprouts. You guys this book is going to be sooooo good.
Feeling: Ready for the weekend.
Reading: Friendly Village. I love to collect vintage children's books, and now that my kids are older we have so much fun reading them. The kids love them, and I am laughing (and jealous) at how simple life is in these stories. And they can get pretty politically incorrect, which makes them all the better!
Wishing: That people lived closer. Seriously why does everyone I know and love live so far away?
Loving: Robby is officially done with 3 blocks of school.....HOORAY!! Now to just get through the next 6.....
Craving: Fresh spring veggies. and strawberries.....oooohhhh strawberries. Hurry up guys.
Anticipating: I'll be seeing my Dr. soon! I'm excited/nervous/sweaty/anxious/ready.

feel free to play along in the comments!

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

running 201

disclaimer: These are all opinions. Of mine. Because this is my blog. I never "learned" to run, and I probably do a lot of things wrong. I never had a coach. I'm sharing what I've learned from experience, and like most things in my life (baking, photography, parenting, this blog), I make it up as I go.

disclaimer: I got a few comments and one nasty email about how running is not the only form of exercise. I know this. It's not the only form of exercise I participate in either, and I fully appreciate and encourage all forms of sports, exercise, and general booty shakin. However, running is a HUGE part of my life, it's changed my life, and therefore I wanted to share it. Thank you, you're welcome.

disclaimer: this post is really wordy, and really un-photo-y. you asked for it.

disclaimer: this post was written really late at night early in the morning, hence lots of made up words, and perhaps things that maybe don't make sense....

I am still in awe at how many of you responded to last weeks running post! wow!! Here's a part two, with answers to your questions.

salt lake city marathon/half marathon 2009.
Picture 6

In last weeks post, I talked about heading down to your local running store and having someone who KNOWS what they are doing fit you for a shoe....I cannot emphasize this enough! Every one's feet are shaped and sized differently, everyone runs and walks in crazy ways, and there are all different types of shoes for all types of feet (one incredibly flat foot like me, or hobbit feet like Robby.....there are shoes for everyone!) Also, did you know that most people get running shoes one 1/2 size bigger than their normal shoes? It's true.

I've ran in Asics and Brooks and have been very happy with both.

Running shoes aren't cheap. They range from about $80-120. The good thing is, every year brands come out with the basically the same shoe, in different colors, so last years models will then be much cheaper. After you've been fitted to find shoes that you like, ask them if they have any of last years model. Shop around and look for sales.
Also, try to look at it this way. Running is the cheapest exercise you can do--you can do it anywhere, it's free, and if all you need to do it is shoes, then investing in a good pair shouldn't be too hard.

I believe shoes to be your greatest investment when it comes to running, but some good running clothes can make a huge difference in how comfortable you are. Now if you're only running a few miles here and there--it shouldn't matter too much what you are wearing. But the longer you are out running, and the more those clothes start to rub on your skin, you'll wish you had something more fit for running. (example, I ran my first big race in a cotton tank top and I felt the effects of that for a week. cotton socks = blisters. everywhere. ouch.)

Just like shoes, new running clothing is made in different colors throughout the year. The basic blacks and whites are hard to find on sale, but if you don't mind running in ugly yellow shorts (me), then you can find a really nice pair of Under Armour shorts for cheap. I never buy clothing at the running stores (sorry guys), while they have an awesome selection, even their clearance prices are steep. I can usually find good deals at sporting good stores like Sports Authority ( I found some Nike tops I LOVE).  Places like Ross and TJ Maxx can be good places to find running clothing too. And you really only need a couple tops, a couple bottoms, and a couple pair of socks--you'll be surprised how fast you can build up a decent rotation of comfortable running clothing. Try it on in the store and do some jumping around in the fitting room (please tell me I'm not the only one who does this?), to make sure there aren't any places that rub. 

I had a question about supportive sports bras.....haha sorry girls, I am the wrong person to talk to about what?

Running in the Cold.
It's hard....but then it's not. 

It's hard to get going, to get up and out the door. I don't run very much outside in the winter--only a few times a month. I don't mind the snow, but I won't run in cold rain (warm rain on the other hand is awesome), and I REFUSE to run on a cold windy's miserable. 
And with little daylight it's hard to get out. 

But.....when I do, I come prepared. Even though I am not a fan of running in pants, I have a pair of running tights that I wear if it's absolutely freezing. They are actually Champion brand from Target that I got a few years ago and they are soooooo comfortable and keep me warm. I usually wear a long sleeved, breathable, water-wicking shirt, or a short sleeved running shirt with a light running jacket over the top. My jacket has sleeves that fold over my hands (also Champion from Target), and I LOVE it. There are some really nice running gloves that don't get sweaty and soggy, but my jacket works just fine. If I do wear shorts, I rub baby oil on my legs which helps with the cold--it sounds weird but totally works. I wear an ear band and I'm good! After about a mile I'm warmed up and don't mind the cold at all.

I have my music on my trusty dusty little blue ipod shuffle. I've had it for 4 years now and I LOVE it. It's tiny, holds lots of music, and clips right on to my shirt.

I think I am one of very few runners who doesn't have Black Eyed Peas, Rihanna, or crazy beated dance music and such on their ipod. So you may or may not be interested in what I listen to, but here are some favorite upbeat artists on my running list right now:
-Vampire Weekend
-Neon Trees
-Jimmy Eat World
-Something Corporate
-Boys Like Girls
-Jack's Mannequin
-Fenix TX
-a few Glee songs, yep
-Brand New
-My Chemical Romance
-Foo Fighters
-The Format
-Taking Back Sunday
-The Ataris

This is the part you might want to skip over if you are interested in a training schedule. I am terrible at training schedules, and remember my disclaimer? I make stuff up.

I guess you could say I loosely follow a schedule if I am training for something. One I make up myself, as I go, so it will fit into our family/traveling schedule. I run 2-3 times a week, with 1-2 short runs (3-5 miles) and a long run (8-14miles) on Friday or Saturday. I didn't run any races last year besides a few Ragnars, so I didn't have a lot of pressure of exact distances I should be running (another reason I LOVE Ragnar races:) 

If you are just starting out running, or are very new, I do think it would be easier, and great motivation to find some kind of schedule. Just don't get burned out (seriously I think schedules that have you running 4+ times a week are crazy), and if you have to miss a run--don't worry! 
Running should relieve stress, not create it. 
Also make sure you have some kind of cross training and/or yoga on your training schedule.

Runners World has LOTS of training tools (here), and in last weeks post Millie commented that THIS was an awesome couch-to-5k program (I have heard really good things about these!)

Thoughts on marathoning. Pace. Pain. And stuff. 
I was really surprised that I had a few different people ask what my marathon time was....hahahaha, now I'm embarrassed. My marathon time is zero, because I've never ran one. Nope. And I don't know if I want to. You see, I thought I wanted to, and I aaallllmost signed up for one last year, but then I didn't. I thought that's what you're supposed to do if you want to be a "real" "runner". But right now I throughly enjoy running, and I know that if I had to stick to a training schedule (yeah I guess it's a good idea to train for a marathon), I think I'd get burned out. Now this is me personally. I have had some very very close friends who have trained and ran marathons, and loved (or hated) every second, and for a few brief seconds I wish I was there with them. But right now I am happy with finding other kinds of races to run, whether that makes me a "real" "runner" or not.

I have run a handful of 1/2 marathons, with my best time at 1:35. I think a half is a great race, and a really fun distance to run. I am very competitive with myself, and I found that I enjoy myself so much more if I'm not worried about time--so this summer I'm looking in to some different kinds of races and trail runs--just to mix it up and try something pressure.

As far as pace goes....hmmm. I just get out there and run at a pace that feels good. I know people who ran in highschool and college know how to count turnover to figure out where they are at, and that is just more than I want to do (so maybe I am a lazy runner?) If you want to improve your speed, you need to do at least one speed workout a week
Here's a little introduction to fartleks (teehee:) for you.

Another way I've found to get faster is to take your dog (if your dog is anything like my dog). She is crazy, therefore she loves to sprint the first mile and a half or so. I hang on for dear life and let her go. It's terrible....but quite the workout I assure you.

Here's the thing about getting faster. It hurts. It's hard. And it doesn't get easier. It turns a fun run, into a run you might kind of wonder why you are doing. It's not easy to run fast, so you just have to decide if it's something you want to do (maybe only sometimes? maybe not at all?) 
If you really want to get better, you really have to push. Sometimes a little pain isn't all that bad....right?

What to eat?
This one varies from person to's all about trying different things to see what works for YOU. 
I have found that I can't eat alot of protein the night before a big run. If I'm doing more than 8 I'll usually have a dinner of whole grain pasta and veggies, or a veggie sandwich. Drink LOTS of water the day before your big run. For pre-run meals/snacks I like
-banana and pb
-small piece of pb toast
-1/2 an odwalla bar

If I'm running more than 10 miles I'll use a Gu gel. (I think vanilla and orange are the easiest to get down. I freeze mine so by the time I need to use it they're not boiling hot)  I still don't know if these actually help me DURING the run, but I see a huge difference in recovery when I use one. I also drink lots of Gatorade and water after a long hot run.

I have a small Camelback (the kind that straps on your waist) that I take for long runs....and I don't really love it. I would love to hear what you use for water?

Side aches. 
The worst. Thing. EVER. right?? right. They are terrible. But if you pay attention to what you eat and drink before you run, you can lessen your chances of getting them. 

I found the biggest cause of side aches for me is artificial sweetener. 
Luckily, in the past year I have eliminated all artificial sweeteners from my diet, so I run mostly side ache free. I figured it out when I was buying G2--the "low calorie" Gatorade. Every time I would drink it (even the day before I ran) I would get a side ache. 

Drinking or eating too much before (or drinking too much during) can also be a cause of side aches.

If you do happen to get one, here's what works for me. You may have to slow your pace a bit, but get your breathing into a nice rhythm, and synchronize your exhales with your steps (right side ache = exhale when your right foot hits the ground). Keep breathing like this and it should go away soon. 

When to run/Where do the babies go?
In the summer I run early morning (like when the homeless people are still sleeping on the sidewalks, early). This is to avoid heat, so I don't eat up my family's day with running, and so Robby can be home with the kids before work. If it's a week day and Robby has to be to work I'll start around 5:30am--as soon as the sun is up. I also love to run when he gets home from work--it stays light here so long (DON'T RUN IN THE DARK GIRLS!!), that I can usually get a good run in after he's home if I want to. 

Sign up for a race. Why not? What will happen? I met a 60+ year old lady last summer who had run 80+ marathons. If she can do that, you can do one race. Crossing the finish line is the BEST feeling!
Confession: I hate 5ks. Hate them. haha I've ran ONE. Remember the 3 mile mark I told you about? Your body finally stars to warm up, and the race is done. If you are new to running and sign up for a 5k (awesome), but you don't love it, don't give really is a hard distance. If you think you are brave enough to go for the 10k, I think it's a much better distance.
Bring a cheering section. It is so fun to come around a corner of a race and see your family there cheering you on. Your kids will love it, and think you are the coolest mom ever, really.
Don't worry. Seriously, the best thing about running is that you can just go do it. Just like that. Anywhere, Anytime. 
So disregard this post, and just get out and run!

Feel free to add your two cents (or ten dollars!) It's fun to learn from each other.
I'll be posting everyone's awesome tips and tricks on my fb page (here)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

winter wednesday

winter survival tip #8:
if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.
"'em" being the snow.
I promise you, bundle up, grab a sled, climb up a hill and push your babies down'll feel great!

bootsjosnow copykidsinsky copysleddinguhoh

happy wintering!

Monday, February 21, 2011

happy monday!

Hope you are enjoying your day off....maybe doing something....presidential-y..?
Little George Washington paper doll
slightly disturbing image found here

just a quick thought: 

I couldn't believe (and I was so excited!), at the response to last week's running post! I thought you'd all be bored to death. We'll do a part two this week, so if you'd like to leave a running related question in the comments here, I'll try my best to answer them on this week's post.

see you soon!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

shabby apple winner!!!

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Rachel June!!! 
Email me at sheenajibson at gmail.

Go check out Shabby Apple--they're offering a 10% discount to my readers! Just use "littleredhouse10off" at checkout.

Friday, February 18, 2011

friday senses

I really enjoyed last week's senses here's another!

Making: Soup. Always making soup......that's what winter is for, right?
butternutsoup copy

Roasted Winter Vegetable Soup
this is an adaption of this soup that I raved about last week. 

The best part about this soup is that you can add a combination of whatever winter root veggies you have on hand--carrots, different kinds of potatoes, parsnips, winter squashes....anything!

This time I used:
-1 butternut squash
-2 medium yukon gold potatoes
-1 large sweet potato
-1 onion
-3 cloves of garlic

Halve your veggies and brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast all veggies on a baking sheet at 400°, until fork tender (around 45 minutes, depending on the size of your veggies.) I took the onions and garlic out sooner--keep an eye on them since they're smaller.

After the vegetables are roasted, add them to a food processor or blender, and add 2-3 cups of chicken stock, enough so you can easily puree. 

Pour puree into a large pot, and add: 
-1-2 cups more chicken stock, depending on how thick you want your soup
-1/2 tsp dried sage
-pinch of cayenne
-salt and pepper to taste

Let soup simmer in pot for at least 30 minutes, so flavors can come together. 

We topped ours with toasted bread and had a simple salad of mixed greens, marinated roasted peppers, goat cheese, a squeeze of lemon, and olive oil. 


Seeing: Sunshine, and snow, and snow and sunshine. This weather is weird.
Hearing: I was up late working until the wee hours of the morning last night and listened to Jimmy Eat World's Clarity, Bleed American, and a little from Futures. 
It was awesome, and nostalgic, and awesomely nostalgic.
Smelling: Whitney's fabulous cooking each week when we shoot for the cookbook.....yum.
Tasting:  Goat cheese. I have always loved it, but the past few weeks I have become a bit has such a bright flavor, and it's perfect for sandwiches and salads during these winter months when there's not a lot of fresh flavorful produce.
Feeling: warm. Flannel pajama pants are the best invention ever.
Reading: Dr. Suess's Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? to the boy's class today.
Loving: Thursday date nights with Robby. Snuggling into the couch, watching our four favorite shows (ps did anyone else DIE laughing when Liz Lemon's stomach
 said "turkey wraps" last week??? love her)
Anticipating: Seeing sister SOON!
Wishing: February would just get a move on....
...seriously why does the shortest month take the longest?

feel free to play along in the comments:)

happy weekend!

don't forget to enter the Shabby Apple ends on Saturday night! j

Thursday, February 17, 2011

running 101

For the past few weeks, we've been talking mostly about healthy eating habits (annnnnd not so healthy eating habits), and how to slowly get on the road to a healthier lifestyle. (posts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)

Today we're switching gears to exercise--just as important as a healthy diet. The two make a perfect pair, walking hand in hand down the beach.

I'm going to tell you flat out that this post is about beating around the bush here.

Now before you quit reading all together--"I hate running!!" you scream at your computer screen, just hear me out.
I may not convince you that running is your thing....but just maybe it could be.

Flashback. High school. I HATED running.
More than anything in the world.
I played basketball and softball, I was in great shape, but ask me to run one lap around the track and I wanted to go hide in a dark corner. It was just so....hard, and boring, and more boring, and pointless. I specifically remember when we had to run the mile, hating every single step I took, swearing that as soon as I was out of high school P.E. I would never run again in my life. Really--these were the conversations I would have in my head while running.

After we were married, I needed a way to stay in shape, and for some reason I thought I'd try running (I guess I'd forgotten my promise to myself). I could do it any time of day, it was cheap, and it seemed to be the thing to do in a college town. I slowly worked my way up to a little 4 mile loop, and while I never loved it, I knew it was a great way to stay in shape--running works so many muscles in your body at once--it's the best bang for your buck, I like to think.

Flash forward a few more years.

Pregnancy. sidenote: sometimes its crazy to me that I was ever pregnant. Twice. That my now large, sticky children, were once snugly little buns inside of me. Weird.

I walked and walked and walked throughout my first pregnancy.....anything to keep moving or my mind would go crazy. After he was born, I was anxious to get back into a shape of some kind--any shape really but post baby shape--and I didn't know what to do. I knew I wouldn't be taking my precious little bundle into some germ laden gym, so once again I turned to running.

I hated it. It hurt. My knees. My hips. My poor toes and their blisters on blisters. I felt so old.
I was 22.

But I kept at it. I started to see results besides lost toenails and achy muscles.

One year later I ran my first half marathon.

And loved it. I haven't stopped since.

photos from this race

There is nothing that compares to getting out in the fresh air, sunshine on your back, a good playlist and your thoughts to keep you company, with miles of pavement ahead of you.

It's wonderful. 

So have I lost you yet? I realize that running is not for everyone, but I do suggest that you try it--I mean look how I changed my mind! It took years, but I went from loathing it, to craving it, and writing about it for all 12 of you to read.

Now maybe you have tried it, over and over again, and you really just don't like it--find something else. There are so many ways to get out and do physical activity, you are bound to find something that you can really connect with, love, and get your blood pumping.
Just don't give up too fast--nothing is easy at first.

If you are interested in running here are just a few things I've found helpful (and keep in mind, these come from a former hater, so these are things I've found really make it better).

Shoes. THE most important thing about running. When I started I wore the same pair of old cross trainers for 3 years (3 really uncomfortable years). I had terrible blisters, my knees always hurt, and I thought that was all just part of running. It's not!! Go to a running store--those guys know what they're doing! They'll study your feet and find shoes that will work WITH you, and not against you. As soon as I got shoes (and as long as I get new ones when mine get too many miles on them), I've had no problem with my knees, and running is so much more comfortable than when I first started.

Clothing. Lightweight, breathable, water wicking clothing. Stay away from 100% cotton (this goes for socks too), or you'll be feeling all kinds of uncomfortable, in all kinds of uncomfortable places.

A goal. Whether it's to run one mile without stopping, or running a full marathon, just set some kind of goal to keep you motivated.

If you have all these things and you're still hating it....

Get off the treadmill. I can barely run a mile on a is pure torture to me! I get so bored and worry too much about flying off the back. If that's your only running experience, get outside and go! It is exactly one billion times better, I assure you.

Make it past 3 miles. Now if you're not running at all, 3 miles sounds terrible, impossible, and you think I'm kidding....right?? But really--the first 3 or so miles are terrible for everyone (I hate it). Your muscles are still warming up, your breath isn't in sync, it's uncomfortable, and you want out. So if your only running experience is distances under 3 miles (or maybe a bit more....I don't start to love it until between 4 and 5), you are missing out!

Drag a friend out there with you. It's easier to do it together and motivate each other--you'll get to talking and before you know it, your run is done! 

Music. A wonderful motivator to pick up the pace.

I could go on and on (and on!) about running, it has really become a big part of me, but we'll save it, and see if there's an interest in a running 102 someday:)

My challenge to you this week: 
I would love to challenge you to run....can I do that? 
You might hate it (you'll probably hate it), but I guarantee when you are done, you'll be happy you did....and you might want to try it again. 
Run a mile, run around the block--just get out and move those legs!
If you really really insist on hating running, and you promise me that you have tried, 
then find another way to push yourself this week. Go on a bike ride. Walk longer than you normally would.

A healthy diet is only part of a healthy lifestyle....don't be afraid to challenge yourself.

Good luck! 

I'd love to hear why you love it or can't stand it, and wondering if there are any other former haters out there:)
I'll be posting tips/comments/conversion stories on my fb page.

edited to add: 
I was super surprised at the response that this post got....I'm so happy to have so many runners our there! I'll be writing another running post, so if you have anything you'd like to be discussed you can come leave your questions in the comments here.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

winter wednesday

I don't know about you, but for our family.....not a lot happens in winter. We're kind of boring. No big family vacations, no camping trips, no all day festivals with parades and fireworks, no soccer games, no races.....nothing. 

So instead, we celebrate the little things.

Family movie night.
Trips to the Library. 
Lunch with daddy.

An almost-60° day. This one was kinda a big deal. Shorts went on, shoes came off, the windows and doors were opened and burgers were grilled. In winter!! 

burger copy

Sharing dessert with your family.
GIANT cookie+icecream+spoons+family=perfect
piz2 copy

Chocolate Chip Pizookie
1/2 c butter
1/4 c white sugar
3/4 c brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 c all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
 1/4 tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips (I used a combo of milk and bittersweet)
pecans (optional)
Cream the butter and the sugars until light. Scrape down the side of the bowl. Continue mixing while adding the egg-mix until incorporated.  Add the vanilla. Scrape down the bowl with a spatula. Combine the flour, soda and salt in another bowl. With a whisk, stir to combine. With the machine on low, slowly add the flour mixture. Mix until just combined, careful not to over mix. Fold in the chocolate.

Press dough into greased tart pan.

Top with pecans if you like (we like).

Bake at 350° for 12-15 minutes. We like our pizookie underdone, so it's nice and gooey in the middle. If you want it more done, bake it longer, well no kidding.

Serve immediately with vanilla ice cream and lots of spoons.

piz1 copy

Winter Survival Tip #7:
celebrate the little things

What little things are you enjoying?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

shabby apple giveaway!

I'm SO excited for today's giveaway!! 

I'm sure by now you've heard of Shabby Apple....their dresses are popping up all over, and I am especially loving some of the new designs they have for spring.
Today they are giving away the Mariposa Grove dress ($86 value) to one lucky reader!
Check out their website--they have so many different styles and colors of women's dresses, as well as maternity clothing, swimsuits, and even some super cute little girls dresses. 

I loved this dress instantly--it's so springy and a great way to break away from drab wintery dresses....don't you think?
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To enter the giveaway, visit Shabby Apple and leave a comment on this post. 
For additional entries, blog, tweet, or facebook about the giveaway and come back for an extra entry. 
You can also "like" Shabby Apple on Facebook (here) for one more entry.

The giveaway will close Saturday February 19th at midnight. One winner will be chosen randomly.

And if you just can't wait, Shabby Apple is offering a 10% discount to my readers! Just use "littleredhouse10off" at checkout.

*giveaway is only available to US residents
giveaway closed

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentines Day 
is for
and kiddos
and pizookies.

happy day.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


We have TWO lucky MadeOn Au Chocolat Winners!

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email me your address at sheenajibson at gmail. 

Be sure to go check out all of the MadeOn products! 
Get 10% off through Feb 14th when you use the code "littlered" at checkout. 

Friday, February 11, 2011

friday senses

this post was inspired by Abby, and her pretty five senses friday posts. 


because I have a habit of talking too much....I added a few more senses from my week....

Seeing: sunshine--in every window. snow, and melting snow.
Hearing: birds. they're singing again! The Neon Trees Pandora station is my new happy place.
Smelling: It rained a bit....and afterwards it smelled just like spring. yum.
Tasting: Fresh bread. jam....the last jar of homemade peach. I thought that a batch each of blackberry, strawberry, and peach would keep us through winter.....nope. darn. Tazo Wild Sweet Orange herbal tea.
Feeling: Sore after Thursday yoga. That class is HARD. but awesome. but hard.
Reading: The Improvisational Cook by Sally Schneider.....this book is awesome! Full of recipes/techniques/tips and tricks....and beautiful photos as well.
Loving: my three Valentines.
Anticipating: No school Monday...hooray!
Making: I need to find a special treat to make this weekend.....any ideas?
Wishing: for a warm vacation. asap.

feel free to play along in the comments:)

happy weekend!

don't forget to enter the Au Chocolat giveaway-it ends tonight!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

no fat. low fat. stop fat. go fat.

If only Dr. Seuss had written a book on fats, maybe it would have saved us all some confusion.

Fat phobia. This is probably the longest food phase I had in my life. Haha I say that like I am 80.

It started out when we were first married--I had learned that I couldn't zip my pants if I didn't eat right, (uh, no kidding), and I didn't want it to happen again. I needed to make some changes, and really, it was pretty easy--every commercial, magazine ad, and label on any store product shouted "low fat this" and "no fat that", I assumed that was my answer.

Low Fat=Good/Healthy
Fat=Bad. This was my new motto.

So in my mind, it was ok that I ate an entire family sized pack of Twizzlers with my lunch, because hey....fat free! Never mind that they are 100% sugar. And Slim Fast snack bars--I'd eat three at a time.....but they are low fat, so of course it was ok--who cares what unidentified ingredients were lurking in them.

I substituted applesauce in all of my baking--which don't get me wrong....I'll still add a little applesauce in some of my banana breads, or muffins--but I was putting applesauce in EVERYTHING--chocolate chip cookies! That's just not right. And it's definitely not a cookie.

After I had my first baby and was determined to quickly loose the extra 35 pounds I had acquired, so my low fat obsession only grew. And lucky for me, every other box of whatever I needed at the grocery store, boasted it's no fat/low fat nutrition label.

I would stock my freezer with low fat ice cream sandwiches--which did absolutely no good, because in my head low fat = healthy = I would eat two or three.

I didn't even buy butter, and forget cooking in any kind of oil......oil=fat=bad. That's how I was programmed. I ate scrambled egg whites only. I bought reduced fat peanut butter--which if you actually read the label of reduced fat peanut butter, it's called peanut "spread"....ha! Even science can't suck the fat out of peanuts, so they just throw a few peanuts in, and add a bunch of other.......stuff. 

Low fat crackers.
Low fat cereal.
Low fat cheese....or just no cheese.
Low fat turkey bacon. Seriously the thought of that right now makes me gag. It's like chewing on a dry piece of canvas.
Low fat. No fat. Fat free......

But then come to find out (shock!), that while these products are all low fat......they aren't necessarily healthy for you. If a food has been processed to a point that they have taken out the fat, chances are they're adding, refining, and tinkering with other parts of the food as well. The "food" becomes more of a science experiment, rather than a food that was placed on the earth to be eaten.

I'm guessing there are a few of you who have taken a trip to this same low-fat-land I am talking about....right?
(Courtney I am totally calling you out on this one.....I think you added applesauce to mac-n-cheese:)

I don't really know how I got off that was a slow process to retrain my brain.

Maybe it was when I realized  that vegetables taste 1000x better sauteed in heart healthy olive oil.
Or that real peanut butter, with nothing in it but peanuts and salt, is just about the best thing ever invented.
Sure, a piece of salmon may contain more fat than a skinless chicken breast, but that piece of salmon also contains Omega-3 fatty acids (these aren't found in chicken) that are essential for heart health, brain and nerve function, and improving our immune systems as well.

So it turns out that some fats aren't that bad (shock!).....and it took me a year or two to start believing in good fats, and ignoring every low fat/no fat claim that jumped in my face every time I went down a grocery store aisle. 

Now don't get me's not a fat-eating-free-for-all over here. I still buy low fat milk, I only use cream for special occasions, and butter is used sparingly (except in baking.....THERE ISN'T A SUBSTITUTE IN THE WORLD FOR BUTTER IN BAKING. DON'T TRY IT. EW.) We're not eating bacon and eggs for breakfast every morning (I like to think of bacon as more of a garnish, rather than a main part of a meal), so I do try and keep the saturated fats at a minimum.

But there is nothing that will get between me and an avocado.
I refuse to eat pizza without cheese.
Or anything without cheese for that matter.
We eat endless amounts of peanut butter and almonds. 
I use olive oil every time I cook.

For some reason, fat has become a bad word in most people's vocabulary, and I think once a person takes just a little bit of time to research fats--the good and bad fats in foods, that's where the fat phobias will begin to fade away. 
If you are truly interested in your health, and not just your image (two totally different things), you'll realize that fats play an important roll in nutrition.

The challenge for you this week:
 Figure out what your relationship is with fat.
Are you afraid of it? Do you know what the good fats are? Are you eating bacon wrapped everything fried in butter?

This is something that can't be changed all at once. It has seriously taken me a few years to establish a healthy relationship with fat. But YOU need to figure out that healthy relationship for yourself. Research. Read. Google. Talk to your friends. 
Just educate yourself.

Just like everything else I've found, 
it all comes down to eating a balance of real, whole foods
as close to their original state as possible (example real peanut butter vs. reduced fat peanut "spread".
 Peanut butter = peanuts, while peanut spread = ?)

Try not to gorge yourself on saturated fats like those found in animal products (but you don't have to totally eliminate them), or trans fats found in packaged foods (you should eliminate those), and try to get enough of the good fats, like those that are found in salmon, avocados, walnuts, almonds, and olive oil.

And before you reach for something labeled "low fat" read the label and see what's been added/taken away to magically replace the fat, you may be surprised to find it's not as healthy as you think.

So that was really long....probably too much for Dr. Seuss to put into rhyme, I would guess. 

I'm curious to know if you've been through a "fat phobia" really is funny looking back at some of the things I thought were healthy because they were low fat.

as always I'll be posting favorite comments/tips on my FB page.

disclaimer: I have never said "fat" so many times in my life. It has lost all meaning.
disclaimer: I LOATHE that dress. You know what I mean if you've been pregnant. It was the only dress that fit at the end, and I wore it over and over for the last two months. Just looking at it reminds me how uncomfortable and swollen I was.
disclaimer: look at my baby!!! why is he so big now? boo.