Thursday, January 23, 2014

On the juice.

Part of my New Year's resolution was to kick the sugar and eat healthier. While I haven't given up my old friend completely, I have done a much better job at substituting the candy and other unnecessary sugar for fresh fruit and veggies, thanks in large part to an addition to my morning routine: juicing.

I had read a lot about juicing in the past, but for some reason never really thought it was for me. I assumed it all tasted worse than wheat grass and besides, who has the time or money to grind up fruit and clean that machine every single day? But when Corey told me he wanted to start eating healthy again, I figured what better time than now to start using the brand new Jack LaLanne juicer that has been sitting on our kitchen counter, untouched, since our wedding more than a year and a half ago. So we headed to Sam's Club, bought nearly every fruit and vegetable they had, and whipped out the old instruction manual to get the juicer fired up. I have felt infinitely better ever since. 
In just a few short hours of research, I learned which fruits and vegetables were good for what and which ones juiced best. For example, I learned that celery is a good detoxifier, lemon is an amazing antioxidant, and that carrots are great for your skin while they also fight cancer and boost the immune system. I should have believed in the effects of juicing when my dad juiced daily while going through his cancer treatments. There are so many essential nutrients and vitamins in this stuff, it's no wonder I feel much more awake, have more energy, and have far fewer tendencies to snack on junk when I am juicing. 
Every day our juice is different, but I have found that the best and easiest fruits and vegetables to juice with are apples, carrots, cucumber, celery and strawberries. These all contain a good amount of juice and add just the right amount of sweetness to eliminate any bitter taste. We've also been juicing with kiwis, pineapple, spinach, oranges, lemons, broccoli, cucumbers, and any other seasonal fruit we can get our hands on. I haven't gotten all fancy with mixing certain vegetables to achieve a certain remedy for anything in particular, I just juice with what I have and haven't had a drink I didn't like. I honestly feel 100 times better when I start my day with fresh juice - I actually really miss it when I don't do it!
In terms of equipment, I mentioned that we got a really good juicer as a wedding gift, but a decent juicer can be purchased for less than $100. And in my personal experience, it is a worthy investment. Not only are we buying less food and less junk, but my body is now getting far more nutrients than it has ever gotten. 
The preparation and clean up is also what scares some people away from juicing, and I will say, it does take a little bit of time. At the beginning of the week, I wash and prepare all the fruits and veggies I can and store them in tupperware so that they are ready to be put directly into the juicer. This saves me SO much time each morning. And I've got the clean up part down to a science. The juicer comes a part into 5 pieces. I clean each one, leave them out on a towel to dry, and quickly reassemble when I get home from work so it's ready to go the next morning. Juicing probably adds 25 minutes to my morning routine, but it is more than worth it. 

With this lengthy health post, you'd think this was a paid advertisement for the juicing company, but it's not. I'm happy to share what works for me and maybe some of it will work for you. 

Happy juicing!
xo Steph 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

It's a Boy!

This weekend we got some more good news on the baby front. My youngest sister Janine and her boyfriend Silvio hosted a fab family dinner to announce the gender of their brewing bambino. In what is sure to be a new family tradition, my sister ordered a "gender reveal" cake to let us know the good news:
Following an informal family poll (in which more believed it would be a girl than a boy), there were a couple seconds of intense scrutiny while we all gathered around to witness the happy couple cut the cake. I was taking a video of it, and kept getting blocked by a bunch of heads as everyone crammed in closer, but I heard my older sister squeal, "it's blue!" as they pulled the knife out following the first cut. I would post the video here, but then I sort of lost my mind yelling "It's BLUE! It's BLUE!" and no one wants to hear that. I really wish I would have zoomed in on my mom's face because I remember her sitting there with her hands covering her mouth and eyes wide open. "I can't believe it! THREE beautiful grandsons!" she said. There were lots of hugs and OMGs before settling into a conversation about the generation of boys we are now living in.
I have to admit, I didn't really have a feeling one way or another on this one, but Nellie was so sure it was going to be a girl, she had bought a pretty little girl present - which she had to exchange on Saturday. I am just so excited to have another nephew that I can run around with and spoil. Plus, with every male our family pops out, our odds of a future major leaguer significantly increases, so I'm all about that. 

And then ultimately, the conversation somehow always steers to me: "Steph must be next!" and "Are you ever gonna have kids?" Well, maybe and yes. Yes, I am going to have kids at some point. Corey and I definitely want a couple kids of our own, but we're just not there yet. We are very much enjoying getting our house and careers in order, and just hanging out with the two of us and Ruby. That is enough for us right now. I suppose at some point I will just know when I'm ready, but we are in no rush. When my sisters start to lap me with baby #2, then we can start talking.
My nephews digging in to the cake!

For now, we're good with being uncle Corey and auntie Steeeee. 
xoxo Steph

Friday, January 10, 2014

Christmas catch up, New Year's resolutions, and our latest project

Phew! Is it just me or did Christmas come and go in the blink of an eye? Now here I am, two weeks later, finally sitting down to post about my holidays. For starters, they were wonderful. I had a glorious two-week break from the office with only an occasional conference call or two. I almost didn't know what to do with myself! So naturally I caught up on a lot of sleep, watched too much daytime TV, and did some online shopping -- all things I never do! I also got to spend a lot of time with my family, take Ruby for lots of walks, and got back on track with working out and eating healthy. This holiday break was exactly what I needed!

Just before Christmas, I headed back to Akron for my final work trip of the year. It was exciting for me to see snow around Christmas time, since I've never even dreamed of a white christmas, let alone experienced one. Even better, LeBron's team surprised me in my hotel lobby with a personalized singing Christmas gram complete with signs and a jolly santa. That was definitely a first, and such a nice surprise. 
I was in Ohio to manage media at the grand opening of the LeBron James Arena at St. Vincent - St. Mary's high school, LeBron's alma mater. He gave the school $1 million for the state-of-the-art facility that is quite frankly nicer than most college gyms. 
I had so much fun playing in the snow (seriously SUCH a treat for me!), and I always love working with the team in Ohio. It was the perfect way to kick off Christmas week!

When I got back from the trip, I hosted our annual high school holiday get-together with some of my favorite St. Francis girls. With all of our busy lives and expanding families, sometimes it's tough to make this meeting work - but we almost always find a way! It was a beautiful brunch with beautiful friends, and I may or may not have had one too many mimosas (thanks for keeping my glass full, Kari!).

Christmas with my family is always the best. After Christmas Eve dinner at Mikuni's with my parents and our family friends, Corey and I made the rounds and dropped off most of his Christmas presents since he had to leave for work Christmas morning. We also got to see some of the beautiful "Fabulous 40s" lights, where Corey promptly plopped down behind sponge bob for the only picture I have of him and I together this Christmas. Classic.
After we ate breakfast and exchanged our gifts on Christmas morning, Corey headed up the hill for work and I headed to my parents' for way too many presents. Santa still goes all out at the Rosa household! More than gifts, we just love to all be together. That's what matters most!

On Christmas Eve, we also got some amazing news Corey and I had been waiting on for a while… two of our good friends finally got engaged! Corey had taken Paul down to San Francisco to find a ring, so we knew it was only a matter of time for these love birds, and we couldn't be happier for them!
A candid photo of the actual proposal. Makes me so happy!

Even though Christmas flew by way too fast, we enjoyed a quiet New Year's Eve at our friends' house. But that was after Corey hosted our unofficial New Years party the night before since he had to work New Year's Day. So at midnight on Monday evening, Corey hugged everyone and wished them happy new year 24 hours early. That guy cracks me up. I have to admit, it was pretty fun and I'm glad we did it. Plus, Obie's ribs and my fettucine alfredo were pretty on point. By the time the real New Year's Eve rolled around, Corey and I were pretty much exhausted so it was nice to have a low-key night with good friends.
As for my resolutions, I don't usually make these because I regularly set goals for myself throughout the year, but the biggest thing I want to focus on this year is LESS CANDY. I've told you before that I eat like a 5-year-old when it comes to sugar, but I've been noticing my body doesn't quite digest it the way it used to. Judging by the content of my candy drawer, I may have slightly overdone it on the sugar scale. So less snacks, more fruits and veggies and more cooking at home. Corey is also eating super healthy right now, so it's easy for me to stay on track at home. Heck, he's the one that inspired me to do this in the first place. So instead of my morning cinnamon toast crunch, we've been juicing and I've been feeling wonderful. We'll see how long I can keep this up!

And that brings us to the present. This first week back to work has been a crazy one. On Monday, we got some sad news that my 98-year-old grandpa passed away peacefully in the hospital. While we were all upset, it's tough to be sad about 98 good years. Grandpa Warren was an extremely smart guy, and I will definitely miss his stories. For the first time in my life, last night I sat down to write an obituary and surprisingly, it wasn't sad. I was happy to be recounting his amazing life and just hoping my words would do him justice. 

Finally (I swear this novel will end at some point), this week we also kicked off our latest home improvement project - a complete backyard renovation. Corey and I are SO excited for it to be done… I'll be sure to share before and after pictures. For now, I'll leave you with a staged photo of me swinging an axe on the hideous man-made lava rocks that used to surround our pool. I've been wanting to do this since the day we bought our house and it felt pretty darn good!
Until next time,
xoxo Steph