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Next month Joe and I will celebrate three years of marriage. I’m tempted to say that I can’t believe it, but that’s only partly true. It’s so strange how these past three years feel long and short all at once. I feel like it was just yesterday that we got married on that beautiful summer morning in July, but it also feels like we’ve been married for a lifetime. We’ve experienced so much life in the past three years that sometimes I get tired just thinking about it; I can’t imagine what the next three years will bring.

The past two weeks Joe and I have been traveling a lot for work, and we’ve been on opposite schedules because of that travel. While sleeping in a king-sized bed all to myself the other night (!!!), I got to thinking about the little compromises that we make, like every other married couple, that keeps our relationship going strong.*

1. Where We Live
If it were up to me, I think I could be happy living in a town home with just a little piece of grass for the rest of my life. Either that or a very small house with a very small yard. Joe, on the other hand, needs space and a yard and lots of house projects to work on. It keeps him happy, sane and stress-free. So our compromise is to live in a modest-sized house with a reasonably sized yard.

2. My Last Name
Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while remember that I struggled with what to do with my last name. Take Joe’s last name? Or keep mine? Joe didn’t pressure me in one way or another. And I settled on taking both last names! I’m Mayberry at work at Hofmeyer at home with our friends and family. And, in case you’re wondering, our kiddos will be just plain Hofmeyer.

3. Our Pets
Joe would have preferred having big dogs. I never thought I wanted dogs, until I found a breed I love. And that, my friends, is how we ended up with two Cavaliers. Joe would agree now that they are the best dogs around.

4. How We Eat
Slowly over the past few years, Joe has become more of a healthy eater than he was when we dated or first got married. I love that he’s eating healthier, but I don’t expect him to eat mostly vegetarian like me. Instead, I prepare meat for his meals regularly as long as he is willing to eat vegetarian a few nights a week. Additionally, I prefer to shop at Whole Foods for a certain amount of our groceries, which Joe used to hate, but now he understands how much it means to me and has come around.

5. Splitting Household Responsibilities
When we first got married, I was really worried that I would be getting a second “job” with all the wifely duties I would take on. Thankfully Joe understood my fears and has made every effort to help out around the house. I do what I’m best at, such as grocery shopping, cooking the meals, packing lunches, washing the sheets and making the beds, and Joe does what he’s best at, including taking out the trash, letting out the dogs and feeding them, giving the dogs baths, doing the yard work and cleaning the bathrooms. It’s nice to have someone to split the responsibilities with and makes our marriage feel more like a partnership.

What marital compromises do you married folk make that keep your marriage running smoothly? 

*I think it goes without saying, but this list is on the lighter side. There are, of course, many other compromises we make that are not mentioned.

Banana Bundt Cake 1 | Espresso and Cream

Last night I flew into NYC for work for a couple days. As I flew into the city, I got a little nostalgic thinking about all the memories that I’ve made in this place. My first trip to New York was when I was a freshman in college and my dad took our whole family here over Christmas and New Year’s. I remember how overwhelmed and shocked I was as we flew in, seeing the density of the buildings in such a tiny amount of space, unlike anything I had seen before.

A couple years later I visited New York quite regularly on my own while filming for The Rachael Ray Show. Although I was well taken care of, I’m sure my parents were a little bit nervous sending their 21-year-old daughter off on her own week after week to film a television show.

I remember being in Rockefeller Center on election night in 2008 and then back there in 2010 getting engaged to Joe next to the tree with a crowd full of strangers cheering as he got down on one knee.  And then back to NYC for another round of The Rachael Ray Show’s All-Stars edition in 2011.

Without a doubt, I love visiting this place and remembering everything I’ve experienced here, but I always really, really love going home, too. And I realize what a gift it is to love your home and what you have more than anywhere else you could possibly travel to our visit. (Although if Joe told me we were moving to Italy, I wouldn’t be all that upset…)

Banana Bundt Cake 2 | Espresso and Cream

 

I suppose I’ve gotten terribly off track with my little walk down memory lane. This post is really supposed to be about this Low Sugar Banana Bundt Cake. It didn’t take long for us to fall in love with this recipe in the Hofmeyer house. I’ve been playing around with using a lot less sugar in my baking at home but sometimes I’m disappointed with the texture of lower sugar treats. Thankfully this cake doesn’t disappoint! It’s absolutely light and fluffy and delicious, with just a hint of sweetness from the bananas and a small amount of honey.

After I turned the bundt cake out, I decided to add a drizzle of dark chocolate. This is only really necessary if you plan on serving this cake as a healthier dessert or want it to taste a little sweeter. You could easily leave off the chocolate drizzle, or even turn the batter into muffins for a healthy breakfast on the go!

Low Sugar Banana Bundt Cake
Author: 
Recipe type: dessert, snack, breakfast
Serves: 16
 
This batter would also make fantastic low-sugar muffins for kids and healthy adults!
Ingredients
  • 3 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ⅓ cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup toasted hazelnuts, chopped (optional)
  • Chocolate Drizzle
  • ⅓ cup dark chocolate, melted
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 325°F.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine all the above ingredients except the dark chocolate. Stir until just combined and ingredients are evenly mixed. Pour batter into a well-greased 10- or 12-cup bundt pan.
  3. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes in pan. Turn cake out onto wire cooling rack and cool completely, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  4. Once cake has cooled, drizzle with melted chocolate, if desired.

 

FridgePeek_1
I guess I’m a little bit of a snoopy person, or as I would prefer to think about it, I’m just naturally curious. I’m endlessly fascinated with what people eat for breakfast, what they buy at the grocery store and what the inside of their fridge looks like. There aren’t many things that truly gross me out, but one of the things that gets me every time is a fridge that is bursting to the seams with food. I’m sorry if you fall into that category, but the idea that there is food in the back of a fridge that may be expired or rotting or kept at less than ideal conditions just gets me every time.

That said, our fridge is always operating at lean as possible while still having everything we need for the week. With the exception of eggs, milk, yogurt and butter (which, as you know, we buy in bulk at Costco most of the time) we usually only have just enough food to get us through the week. I’m not super Type A in all things, but I certainly am in this manner.

So what’s in our fridge? Let’s dive in!

FridgePeek_2
Top Shelf
Greek Yogurt: Joe prefers Greek yogurt with fruit while I favor plain Greek yogurt so we stock up on both types.
Eggs: As I mentioned in my last post, I buy cage-free, organic eggs from Costco in bulk.
Fresh Berries: We usually have one or two types of fresh berries on hand. These organic raspberries are from Costco.

Second Shelf
Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread: For lunches throughout the week for Joe and toast for breakfast
Jumbo Costco Container of Sabra Hummus: We go through hummus like crazy!
Guacamole Packs: These don’t last long at our house, either. I love guacamole with my sweet potatoes and on salads.
Meatloaf: Sometimes I bring home food leftovers from projects at work. This meatloaf will make quick meals for Joe this week.

FridgePeek_3
Third Shelf
Mini Sweet Peppers: These are so easy to toss onto salads or use as dippers with hummus, guacamole or salsa.
Organic Hearts of Romaine Lettuce: We usually have two bags of lettuce for the week. I love large salads for lunch so it doesn’t last long.

Fourth Shelf
Organic Whole Milk: We switched to whole milk a while back and I love it! It feels like a treat every time I put it in my coffee, which is usually the only time I drink milk.
Almond Milk: For smoothies and oatmeal.
Burger Buns: White bread! My hubby prefers white bread for his burgers and I can’t say I blame him. Sometimes classic is best.

Produce Drawer (not pictured)
Costco-Sized Bag of Green Beans
2 bunches of kale
4 zucchini
Bag of celery
2 heads of broccoli

Beer Drawer (also not pictured)
Yes, Joe gets a whole drawer for beer. And most of the time that drawer is totally stuffed!

What’s your fridge style? Do you stuff your fridge to the max or keep it lean and streamlined? I’m guessing that once we have kids it may be a little harder to keep our fridge this organized, but for now I love having it all in order. 

Madison

 

 

 

CostcoItems2

Every 3 weeks or so I make a trip to Costco to stock up on a select few products that we go through in larger quantities. Since there are only two of us, it’s important that we choose wisely what we buy at Costco. That means it either needs to 1) have a long shelf life or 2) be able to be frozen and thawed. This doesn’t include fresh produce, which I still purchase from time to time.

If you’ve ever been overwhelmed at Costco and not sure where to start, I thought I would compile a list of the healthy foods we love to buy there. Since Joe and I try to eat as much organic as makes sense financially, I’ve included a lot of organic items in my list. I find that Costco is one of the best places to find reasonably-priced organic food.

Dairy
-Cage-free, organic brown eggs (2 dozen)
-Organic Whole Milk (three 1/2 gallon containers that last for weeks!)
-Greek yogurt case of 15 (we usually just buy Joe’s fruit-flavored Greek yogurt at Costco)
-Organic butter (It comes in a 2-pack and butter can be frozen and thawed, giving it longer shelf life)
-Almond milk

Refrigerated Misc. 
-Pre-packaged guacamole (they have a couple different types, and we go through it quick in our house!)
-Hummus (lots of varieties to choose from)

Dry Items 
-Old-Fashioned Oats (two VERY large bags, we keep the bags downstairs and refill a canister for our pantry to save space)
-Kirkland Signature Natural Creamy Peanut Butter (two very large jars, the pb only contains peanuts and salt)
-Nut’N Better Natural Almond Butter (two regular-sized jars, contains only almonds and salt)
-Organic TruRoots Quinoa (4 lb bag)
-Cinnamon (we go through a lot of cinnamon so it makes sense to buy the big Costco container)
-Chia Seeds (they usually have great prices on large bags of chia seeds)

Frozen
-Trident Seafoods Wild Alaskan Salmon Burgers (these are so easy to throw in the oven straight from frozen for a quick meal!)
-Wild alaskan salmon or other wild frozen fish filets (we rotate between salmon and halibut most times)
-Frozen organic mixed berries (a very large bag for a very reasonable price compared with traditional grocery stores)

Fresh Produce
This is a hard category because the bags of produce are very large so we sort of have to pick and choose each time we go what we’re going to buy. These are just a few of our regular picks:
-Organic Hearts of Romaine Lettuce (a bag of 6 heads of lettuce)
-Berries (I always have good luck with the quality of their berries)
-Avocados (usually they come in a bag of 5 or 6 avocados)
-Broccoli florets
-Green beans (they usually come in a 2-bag pack and we go through them very fast in the summer)

Other
-Bread (I don’t eat much bread, but Joe has a lot of sandwiches for lunch. We buy a 2-loaf pack and keep one in the freezer)
-Nuts (almonds, walnuts, etc. – They store well in the freezer)
-Food Should Taste Good multi-grain tortilla chips (one very large bag, we eat them with dinner and for snacking)
-Beer and wine! (Okay, not really healthy, but they do have great prices so we shop there when we have larger parties)

Are you a Costco shopper? It’s one of my favorite places to stock up, but I try to avoid it at all costs during the peak weekend hours. What items would you add to this list? 

Madison

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A few weeks back I posted a photo of my new Fitbit Flex on Instagram. I got a lot of comments asking for my thoughts on the Flex, and now that I’ve had some time to wear it and use it for a few weeks, I feel ready to share my thoughts. I should mention first that my Fitbit Flex was given to me free through a program at work. We logged our fruits and veggies every day for 5 weeks and received a Fitbit at the end, which means a lot of my co-workers are walking around with the same green Flex.

Appearance
My biggest hang-up with the Flex before receiving it was the appearance. It’s not ugly by any means, but it looks much more sporty than the clothes I usually wear to work. I found that after wearing the Flex for a few days, I quickly got over this issue. Sure, it looks a little sporty but for work and play I don’t mind wearing it at all. Additionally, swapping out band colors is quick and inexpensive and I think when I get around to buying a grey or black band I’ll like it even more. Did you hear that they are planning on doing a collaboration with Tory Burch? I may be the first person buying a gold bangle for my Fitbit!

Comfort
I don’t wear many bracelets at work because I find they get in the way with typing and working on my computer. The designers did a great job with the Flex because it doesn’t bother me at all throughout the day. It’s amazing how comfortable it is to wear the Flex!

Screen Shot 2014-06-12 at 5.58.01 AM

Utility
Prior to getting the Flex I knew that 10,000 steps was the recommended number to get in a day, but I had no idea what 10,000 steps really looked like or if I was getting anywhere close to that number. I’m very active many days at work, so I figured I was doing pretty good, but I didn’t have any data to back that theory up.

My first observation wearing the Flex was how little things add up to big things. When I park at the back of the parking garage, take the stairs a few extra times, go on a short walk with the dogs around the block a few times,  it’s much easier to get to 10,000 steps. Of course, I knew this in theory, but I like having tangible evidence that little things add up. It motivates me throughout the day to take  walk around the building or take a short jog if I’m low on steps for the day.

The sleep function is one of the most interesting features of the Flex. You tap the Flex five times to let it know you’re going to sleep, and again when you wake up. In the meantime, the Flex keeps track of how many times you are awake in the night and how many times you are restless. It gives you a little recap each day on the efficiency of your sleep.

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Ease of Use
This is one of the strongest areas for the Fitbit Flex. Once you set up your Flex you can track your progress on your desktop at fitbit.com (as seen above) or you can track your progress on the mobile app that automatically syncs with your Fitbit via bluetooth. The desktop interface has much more information but I love the mobile app for convenience. Both interfaces allow you to change your goals based on personal preference.

There is also a place to log water intake for the day (a favorite feature of mine!) and your food and calorie intake. Since I already use My Fitness Pal, I linked my apps to streamline the process. The whole system is very easy to use and quick to set up, which I appreciated. It’s certainly not a product where you need to be super techy to use and enjoy.

Overall
I really love my Flex! It’s been so much fun to know more about my fitness and activity levels along with my sleep patterns. For the price (a little under $100) I think it’s a great value and I really enjoy using and wearing the Flex.

Do any of you have a Fitbit or something similar? I would love to know if your experiences have been the same! Love it or leave it? 

Madison

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