Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Superlatives and Looking Ahead to 2013

I cannot believe this is my THIRD year-in-review! Have I really been blogging that long? I also can't believe that a new year is upon us. Is 2012 really over? I hope all of you have had a few shining moments this year! 2012 had wonderful moments for us and there were also some challenges. I just spent an hour reading all of my posts this year and it was so much fun to relive the year through pictures.

Let's take a quick look back, shall we?

Best Foodie Success/Experiment:

Instead of selecting a successful recipe, I think I have to give this award to my Whole30 Experience this spring. After participating in a Whole30 month, I saw many, many positive changes in my body, energy levels, and general well-being. You can go here to read my recap post after I finished the 30-day challenge.


I am actually planning to start another Whole30 tomorrow! You can do it with me! It's absolutely free and you can get all the information you need by visiting this website. You don't have to start January 1- you can start on whatever day you select. I mostly stuck with the Paleo lifestyle after I finished my Whole30, but over the past 2-3 months, I have found myself being lazy and letting old habits slide back in. So I am using this Whole30 as a "reset" for myself.



Best Trip/Travel Experience:

This one would have to be my trip to Orlando in August for the International Zumba Convention. This was an experience like no other. I would say it was even borderline overwhelming. I don't think I have ever seen so much neon in one place! I had so much fun with friends, and I learned so much. I am definitely hoping to do this again! If you are a Zumba instructor, you should definitely consider going to Convention in the fall.



Most Emotional Post:

Tis one would be a tie between:

This post, when I made the decision to change jobs...


This post after the Newtown, Connecticutt Shootings.

Enough said.



New Veggies Added to the Repertoire:

Brussels Sprouts (love them roasted!)

Artichokes (How have I not written a post about artichokes? These are one of my new 2012 favorites. I will have to write an artichoke post.)

And Bok Choy! Love this one- it makes such a quick meal or side dish, depending on how you prepare it. Here is a quick meal idea.



Favorite new Food Gadgets:

1. Julienne Peeler. This little gadget helped me to make zoodles. Easy and delicious. Especially when topped with meatballs!


2. Steamer Basket. How did I never have one of these? Great for making artichokes and other veggies.

3. This set of trays from Pampered Chef.

They hook together, and are GREAT for preparing pan-fried chicken, veggies, etc. I like to put egg in the first tray, crumb coating in the second (almond flour, coconut flour, flax flour), and then use the tongs to put into a hot skillet.



Well, that's a quick look at 2012. Those are just a few of the things I blogged about this year. Thanks to all of you for reading, and I hope you will stay with me as we move into 2013! Have you set any goals for this upcoming year?

As I mentioned earlier, I am starting a Whole 30 tomorrow, and I am really excited about it. I wouldn't say I am making resolutions per se, but I do hope to stick with the Paleo lifestyle as much as possible. I would also like to do a better job with decluttering and keeping my house clean and organized. And of course the hubby and I are working hard to try and save money. We would really like to move to a bigger house sometime in the next year or two. This includes not eating out as much! We will be doing a "mostly eat-in month" this January.


My friend Diana over at The Chic Life hosts Eat-In-Month at her blog each January. We usually do this every January. It is a great way to save some money and eat healthier after the holiday season. Since I am doing a Whole 30, eating in is a great way to stay on track.


Happy New Year to all of you out there!!! I wish you the best of love, luck, and health in 2013!!!


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Post-Holiday Photo Contest!

Hello, friends! I hope that all of you had a wonderful Christmas (if you celebrate it)! Our Christmas was a little different than we expected. On Christmas Eve, on the way to church, Sadie started complaining about her tummy. Since I just got over being sick, I was on high alert and we high-tailed it home. It was a game-time decision, and I am SO glad we went home, because the poor little one was sick for a full 24 hours. She didn't really even get to enjoy what Santa brought until today. We still managed to enjoy Christmas with family and friends, in-between lots of loads of laundry, taking temps, calls to the doctor, and giving meds!


Santa really hit the jackpot this year with the McKenna American Girl Doll! Sadie and McKenna have been inseparable!


So... How's about a little contest?

I am hosting a holiday photo contest starting right now! There are multiple categories, and you are welcome to enter as many as you like! You can enter in two ways: you can email me your photos to OR you can post your photo to my blog's Facebook wall! Let me know which category you are entering and if there are any details we need to know! (And if you want it to be anonymous, let me know so I don't include your name if you win!)


Category 1: Strangest Gift

Category 2: Tackiest Holiday Decoration

Category 3: Best Surprise Gift

Category 4: Most Unusual Holiday Ornament


I can't wait to see your photos!

So... What do you win?! Well, I am weeding through my cookbook collection and I have some goodies to give away! Some of the prizes include cookbooks by Hungry Girl, Weight Watchers, and more!

You can enter right away and the deadline for entry is New Year's Eve! I will be posting the winning photos on January 1!


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas from Confessions of a Former Couch Potato!

From our family to you and yours...we wish you a restful, joyous Christmas!



We are blessed in so many ways, aren't we?


Monday, December 24, 2012

How to Host a Holiday Brunch

Get out your favorite holiday china...

Add some greenery...

Brew coffee and have some holiday coffee creamers on hand (pictured here: Cinnamon Sugar Cookie and Peppermint Mocha)

Pop some champagne for mimosas...

Bake some delicious goodies...

And invite some friends!



Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Holiday Goodie-Swap

Tis the season of holiday craziness! I love this time of year...the cards, the holiday parties, the family traditions...

Reading the holiday-themed magazines...

Going to holiday shows and pageants...
Holiday parties with friends...
Dressing up in red and green clothes... (Or dressing my child in them...)
Holiday baking...
Visiting Santa...
Decking the halls...
(Day view)
(Night view)
Making gingerbread houses...
And the Elf on the Shelf!
This holiday season has seemed to pass by extra quickly for The Confessions family. A few days ago, our Elf on the Shelf, Elfie, brought Sadie a paper link chain so she could count down the days until Christmas. I cannot believe that there are only 6 days left! Fortunately, our last "busy day" is tomorrow, so after tomorrow, I think that we can settle in and just enjoy being together.

On Monday night, I had the pleasure of attending a Goodie-Swap. If you are looking for a fun idea for a holiday party, this is a great one. If you have never been to a goodie- swap before, here is how it works. You make a food (or craft or whatever) to share with each person attending the party. When you attend the party, you get to collect one item from each person, and you come home with a basket of goodies!

Our goody swap was food-related. I wanted to make these sweet and salty spiced nuts, because they are delicious! Then I considered making this minty hot chocolate. But in the end, I decided to make my grandmother's butter cookies. These cookies are extra special because I used my grandmother's recipe AND her cookie press to make them. They are light, crunchy, and buttery! (Plus, they are super cheap to make and use ingredients that you usually have on hand anyway: sugar, flour, butter, milk, vanilla, eggs, and baking powder!)


I made three varieties: flowers with a cherry center, camels with a chocolate sprinkle for the eye (because when else will you ever have a camel cookie??), flowers with red sprinkles, and Christmas trees with red and green sprinkles. My personal favorites are the ones with the cherry center. I forgot to buy maraschino cherries, so I used cherries from a can of cherry pie filling that I had. I just rinsed them off and cut them in half and set them fit in the flower centers before baking.


I came home with lots of goodies, including white trash party mix, gluten-free chocolate-oatmeal cookies, cheese rings, fresh-baked bread with pesto-butter, and more! (Read: I came home with lots of goodies that I do not need to be eating!). Hopefully the whole family will get to enjoy all the goodies!

I thought this was a great idea for a party and it was fun catching up with friends. And we all made samples to share with each other, so we had fun snacking, too!


Later this week, I have my second annual holiday brunch with my college friends! I am looking forward to a relaxing morning catching up!


Reader Question: Do you host any holiday gatherings? Do you have a favorite one that you attend? What is your favorite tradition?


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Peace, Hope, and Comfort

It seems weird to write a cheerful holiday post. I have wanted to blog all weekend... but it was hard to know what to say in light if the recent tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. As an educator, an armed intruder in my school has always been my worst fear, and it is also the husband's. (He is an educator, too.) I just want to say that my thoughts and prayers are with everyone associated with Sandy Hook School: the victims' families, the survivors' families, and the officials charged with investigating this terrible tragedy.

I also am thinking about and praying for my fellow teacher friends who are struggling to find the right words to say when asked difficult questions by their students. I think all of us are asking the question, "Why?" Why would someone do something like this? I think we want someone or something to blame, because if we can find the cause, then we can make sense of this. But the truth is...there is no one person or event to blame.

Instead of asking myself questions that I know cannot be answered, I am choosing to pray for peace, hope, and comfort for everyone involved...and when I say everyone involved, I mean everyone in the country...the world even...because the effects of this event are far-reaching.


This morning, I had the pleasure of visiting a school and watching 4 classes of beautiful students sing, dance, and play handbells to a room full of smiling parents, teachers, children, and administrators, and it did my heart a lot of good. It was all about celebrating this wonderful time of year and wonderful children. Like I said, it did my heart a lot of good.

I'll be back soon with a post about a fun goodie swap with girlfriends... but just needed to say this first.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

Don't you love when a kitchen experiment turns out to be a success? Rarely do I have "beginner's luck" when working on a recipe. Most times I have to try something a couple of times to get it right. (And while I am confessing, I will just say that lately my kitchen luck has been extra rotten!) However, I am excited to share a new recipe with you all today!

Last week, I had the best lunch from Earth Fare. I can't believe I didn't take a picture of it to share with you all. I guess I was so hungry by the time I sat down for lunch that my mind wasn't on sharing. Oops! But it looked like this:


My 4 pack included roasted Brussels sprouts, sweet potato salad, chicken salad, and a kale salad. It was the best lunch I have had in a long time, AND it was only $5. I made everyone jealous when I pulled out my lunch that day.

Ever since that day, I have been wanting to recreate that potato salad. Being mostly Paleo, I try to avoid white potatoes and use sweet potatoes instead. However, I don't always love the sweetness of sweet potatoes. I prefer a sweet potato in a more savory recipe. I think it adds a little surprise to a dish. I mean, we have all indulged in sweet potato casserole smothered with sugar and melted marshmallows, and of course, it is wonderful. But for me, finding a good sweet potato recipe that has a more savory flavor is like striking gold.

I started by Googling (is that a word?) sweet potato salad recipes. Some sounded good and some didn't. I looked at ingredient lists and also thought about what I remembered about the salad I had from Earth Fare. I knew that it had garlic, possibly roasted red peppers, and onion. I decided to make a small batch- jus enough for about 2 servings. That way if it wasn't any good, I wouldn't have wasted too many ingredients.

When I finished making the salad, I made the hubby taste it for me and also brought it to work to have 2 co-workers taste-test it. It got eat reviews, so now I am sharing it with all of you! I hope you enjoy it!


Roasted Sweet Potato Salad


  • 2 large sweet potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 whole cloves of garlic, peeled
  • EVOO
  • Salt, pepper to taste
  • 1 large ruin of celery, chopped
  • 1/4 cup of green onions, sliced
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon Mustard (don't sub yellow mustard- the flavor is not the same)
  • 1 Tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar (can add more if you like a bit more "tang")


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place sweet potatoes in a baking dish along with the garlic cloves. Spread out so that the potatoes are in a single layer. Coat with Olive oil- about 2 Tbsp. Toss the potatoes and garlic around so that they are all coated with the oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork-tender and starting to brown. Remove from the oven. Let cool for about 10 minutes.

Remove the garlic cloves. Chop and set aside in a small bowl. Add the celery, olive oil, Dijon mustard, and green onions. Stir together and then pour over the roasted potatoes. Toss everything together until combined.

Serve immediately (warm) or refrigerate for a chilled potato salad.


I think these potatoes would be great for a picnic (chilled) or they would also make a great side dish for a holiday dinner. Personally, I ate them for breakfast! (It's not THAT weird... sorta like hash browns!)


If you like savory sweet potatoes, you may also enjoy these posts:

Sweet potato and Sausage Breakfast Hash

Sweet Potato, Smoked Sausage, and Apple Hash

Frittata with Sausage and Shredded Sweet Potatoes


Do you like sweet potatoes? Have a favorite recipe or way that you like them prepared? Share by leaving a comment below!