The Incredible Kiwi

After my post here where I talked a little bit about my calorie counting and weight loss, I figured it was a good idea to start peppering in some posts about healthy eating…just to have a little bit more balance to the food portion of the blog.  (It’s not like I never post about healthy food…check out these posts here, here, and here for just a few. ;))

Today I want to talk about a super food that I personally love, kiwi!

First of all, this post is about kiwi the fruit, not kiwi the bird.  I was recently on a flight home from California back to DC and had the pleasure of sitting next to my new found Kiwi friend, Eva.  It is quite amazing how much I DID NOT know about New Zealanders (aka, kiwis)!  I think we ended up spending most of the flight exchanging information on both of our countries (no, Eva, Red Lobster is not THE place to go for good crab and lobster in America)…(no, Karen, New Zealand is not the same country as Australia…no, Karen, we aren’t called Kiwis because of the little delicious brown fuzzy fruit).  I actually consider myself rather well traveled and worldly…humbled, party of one!  Did you know that you can ski in New Zealand?  In July (their winter season), you can surf in the morning on the coast, and then hit the slopes in the afternoon.  And we discussed how she’s never had a “white Christmas” like she’s always seen in the movies.  I told her that was fine, since I never have either (remember, I from SoCal…75 degrees and sunny is a normal Christmas day for us)!  She was pretty shocked to hear that not ALL of America is covered in snow for Christmas morning.  Needless to say, their was plenty of learning between the two of us in that 5 hour flight.

Anyway, back to kiwi the fruit.  I love kiwi, especially when it is just perfectly ripe and so, so sweet.  The other thing that’s great about kiwi besides the flavor?  It is packed with nutrients!  Many people believe that when they get a cold, a glass of orange juice is the way to go to blast your body with vitamin C.  You may be shocked to learn that kiwi contains TWICE the amount of vitamin C than an orange does!  (apparently, I’m really excited about kiwi…hence all the exclamation points. ;))  Kiwi also contains a bit of protein, vitamin E and folic acid, which are important in a well rounded diet.  Also, one peeled kiwi will only set you back around 50 calories…well worth it for all the nutrients packed inside.

Kiwi is also considered to have a high level of antioxidants because of the level of vitamin C and lutein it contains (lutein is similar to beta carotene, which is most notably found in carrots and provides them with their orange color and helps with vision disorders).  Lastly, kiwi has a good amount of dietary fiber…and who doesn’t need a little extra fiber, right?

{ Read more about kiwi at }

So, if you are bored of the same ol’ fruit that you’ve been eating, next time you’re at the store be sure to pick up some of these little delights and feel confident that you are treating your body to quite the super food.

If you aren’t sure how to eat them, I’ll tell you my method.  Give the little guy a quick rinse, cut off the ends and then, with a paring knife, carefully peel all the fuzzy skin off.  From that point, you can eat it just like and apple or cut it into slices like I did above in the photo.  If you are brave enough, the skin is actually also edible!

Happy kiwi eating!

Posted in Food, Health & Fitness | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The things we do for our pup…DIY Stair Treads

The home we live in here in Virginia is a town home. It is three floors, and 3 and a half flights of stairs (there’s a half flight to the main floor from the entry way).  Here’s a shot from the outside…it’s as tall as it looks.

It’s all hardwood floors except for the bottom floor including all of the stairs (and yes, I still owe you all the before pictures…#bloggerfail).  That wasn’t working too well for the pup.  I briefly talked about it back in this post and this post.  Originally, I had hoped that rubbing some Paw Wax on his feet and shaving his paw fur regularly would do the trick, but it left wax residue on our floors and really didn’t help all that much. We even paid the extra $11 to get his nails ground down instead of just clipping them…not enough. Roman was still frightened enough of slipping (after a couple really bad slips) that he would whine at the bottom of the stairs at bedtime until one of us carried all 60 pounds of him up the two flights of stairs to our bedroom. It was quite sad actually.  But, I mean, what wouldn’t you do for this cutie?!  (That’s his, “seriously, you aren’t going to help me?” face.)

We discussed several different options on how to help The Bubbas, as we often call him.  We even considered installing a permanent stair runner, which probably would have been close to $1000!  We would have also had to ask permission of the landlord, of course. We came across websites like this one, that had removable stair treads, but it still came out to $179 for 13 stair treads (ouch!). We would have needed to buy 3 sets to cover all of our stairs, which was way out of our budget. One of our cheaper options that we came up with was to purchase several of the Borris door mats from Ikea and cut them in half so they would fit each stair. At $1.49 a pop, it was an option that was waaay closer to our price range, but I was not a huge fan of the black and navy, made for the outside of your home quality going on.  Just when we thought we had ran out of ideas, we came across these at our local Home Depot.  You’re looking at the stack of rectangular shaped carpet pieces to the left and a price tag of only $9.99.  (Please excuse the awful iPhone pic.)

We were definitely intrigued.  It turns out, these stair treads, called Soft Treads, are pretty much just all the leftovers that they cut into the same shape and package in groups of 13 treads per package.  I got down on my hands and knees (they were on the bottom shelf) and started digging through the pile to try and find three matching packs (we needed 3 to cover all of our stairs).  I ended up pulling them all out in the middle of the aisle…classy, I know, but I was on a mission.  Turns out, they had two packs that were relatively similar (one had vertical stripes, the other was horizontal, but the same carpet none the less) and one pack that was more on the neutral side that we thought might work on the basement stairs without clashing too much with the other sets.  That was as good as we were gonna get.  We asked a nice worker man if you could order 3 packs in the same color, but they are only listed as “multi-colored” on the HD website and even the store only ordered them as “multi” and they just get what they get…literally carpet refuse cut up into rectangles.

Not to be discouraged, we picked the two that were the same-ish and the tan-ish one and then skipped over to the caulk aisle (ok, maybe I skipped, and Dane just walked).  Why the caulk aisle, you ask?  Well, let me tell you!  The back of the treads were just hard plastic, as in slippery, which wasn’t going to help the cause.  I had remembered seeing something on pinterest that mentioned using caulk for a cheap solution to make rugs non-slip.  At around $2 for a tube of caulk, this was definitely the cheapest route to go.  Thank you very much Martha for this awesome tip.  (In case, you aren’t keeping track, this is a $32 solution…yay!)  I couldn’t remember if it was supposed to be just silicone or silicone latex, so we just went with a mix.  (We already own the trigger thingy (technical term) that you need to squeeze out the caulk, but I bet those aren’t too expensive.)

Here’s a better shot of the packaging that I took once we got home.  Notice the awesome mix of blue, grey, and greenish that doesn’t really match anything in our house, but is still kinda neutral.  Is it just me?  Maybe I was feeling a little desperate.  😉

When we got home, we laid out all of the carpet squares rectangles.  Why they aren’t backed with some sort of rubbery coating, I don’t know, but I am considering writing a sternly worded letter to the company.  (Yes, most of these photos are awful since we did this at night and used my point-and-shoot…please forgive me.)

Next, we got to squeezing!  We took turns…here’s me.

We did all kinds of patterns just to mix it up…I’m sure it has no effect on the non-slipness of the treads.  Dane took a turn and made a loving gesture.  Collective “awwwwe.”

The tube says “paintable in 40 minutes,” but to be safe we let them dry overnight.  And made sure to keep the pup out of the basement, so we didn’t ended up with little caulk paw prints all over the place.

Now, don’t get me wrong, this is not the most beautiful solution to our problem.  But, considering that the more beautiful alternatives were at least hundreds of dollars out of our price range, this is what we went with.  In the end, I don’t think it really turned out all that bad.

We decided to have them run up one side on the stairs so Roman could have a little path (he likes to walk right alongside you).  Here’s that half-stairway I was telling you about.  From afar, they just look kind of grey striped without all the weird extra colors.

And we used the tan set for the basement stairs.

The great thing about them is that they stick really, really well.  Like, we were scared at first when we tried to pull them off, but we’re happy to see that they didn’t leave any residue at all on the wood…hurray!

The other awesome thing is that after a couple days of coaxing Roman up the stairs and training him to walk on the carpet, he is officially an independent dog again!  It’s been a couple months now and he actually will run up and down the stairs again…Mission Accomplished!  It’s so great to have our fun-loving dog back instead of the scaredy cat we were dealing with for the first few weeks.  Sometimes it’s a good reminder that they have personalities and fears, too.

Love this pup.  <3

Posted in Home & Garden, The Pup, Tutorials | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Showered With Love

My beautiful maids of honor and my amazing (and also beautiful) mom threw me a bridal shower when I was home in Cali two weekends ago and it was perfect. :)  Seriously, it was everything I could have hoped for and I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart!  I feel like as I’ve gotten older, most parties that are thrown for me are organized by yours truly.  There is something very special about having the ones you love throw you a party and I really did feel showered with love!  I promised in this post that I’d share photos once I got around to uploading them, so here they are!

As guests entered, they were given a beaded necklace and were told that they weren’t allowed to say three words…I’m pretty sure they were Wedding, Bride, and Groom (or something to that affect).  I lost my necklace pretty early on. 😉  Also, Cara was a genius and bought thank you cards to have guests write their name and addresses on to save me time later.

The spread of tapas was a beautiful thing.  And I loved the pretty dark pink gerber daisies in the centerpiece.

Some of my favorites were the cheese platter and my mom’s famous marinated roasted peppers…sooo good!

For favors, Cara painted the bottoms of wine and champagne glasses with chalkboard paint.  Guests were able to write their names on the glass and take it home.  LOVED this idea and I may have to steal it. 😉

I helped myself to a glass of champagne early on.

What’s a good party without dessert?  Jenna made some super yummy (and adorable) cupcakes and a berry trifle.  Emily made yummy mini cheesecakes.  How cute is that cupcake tower!?

We took some time for some outdoor photos, too.  Love my beautiful mom and sister!

And where would I be without my MOHes?  Erica, Jenna, and Cara.  Muah!

Thank you to all of the awesome ladies in my bridal party who were able to make it!  Emily, Erica, Jenna, Cara, Roselie, and Brynn.  We missed you Julie, Blake, and Katie!

I was so excited that my friend Crystal could make it out all the way from Virginia.  Definitely feeling the love!

What’s a shower without some gift opening, right?  I was pretty much smiling the whole time.

I’m not sure what was in this box, but I was obviously pretty happy about it!

Here’s my attempt at looking sexy in my sexy apron…wow…I’m sorry Dane, but you get what you get!  lol  Karen = Dork

I was able to squeeze in a photo with my future sister-in-law, Brynn, and my future mother-in-law, Trish who both made long journeys to make it to my shower.  I’m truly lucky to be marrying into an awesome family!

At the end of the night, the party was crash by my nephew Zachary.  We taught him how to ‘cheers’…gotta get ’em started young.

Overall, it was an amazing night.  Thanks everyone for making this Bride-to-be feel loved!

Posted in Life, Wedding | Tagged | 1 Comment

Twenty Pounds

I know that I’ve mentioned here and there that I count calories. I guess this seems directly disproportional to many of my other blog posts that revolve around all kinds of bad for you goodness, but like many people, I’m on the slow and steady journey of losing weight. It’s a subject that isn’t easy for me to talk about, but I know I get motivation from reading other blogs about weight loss and its struggles, so I figured it was about time to give back. There’s not many full length photos of me at my heaviest, so please refrain from too much laughter at this particular photo. 😉 Here I am back in October 2010, 20 pounds ago…my first time in a corn maze (an alternate title for this picture is “What way do we go?”).

When we moved to Ohio, we met lots of new people and were socializing often…read: we drank a lot of alcohol and ate a bunch of bad for your Midwestern food. Hence me gaining about 15 pounds in just a few short months…wow…it’ll really creep up on ya sometimes!

Since last summer I have lost 20 pounds. That’s so crazy to see it written out. I’m not at my goal yet, and this wasn’t even an original goal for me, but when I stepped on the scale and realized that I had reached 20 pounds of weight loss it was a pretty crazy moment. I hadn’t even realized how far I’d come.  It’s important to remember how far you’ve come, because it’s easy to become short-sighted in a weight loss journey.  I am not content where I’m at now, but I have to realize that I’m much better off now than I was a year ago.

Now, the reason that I hadn’t realized it was because the most recent weight loss was only 5 pounds of it. Last summer, I food journaled like a mad woman, staying under 1200 calories a day, and was training for a half marathon…yes, I was still only eating 1200 calories a day and run/walking at least 4 days a week.  I even counted every sip of Gatorade and every GU pack…it was pretty extreme.  That’s when I lost the 15 pounds.  At some point after that weight loss, I decided that I didn’t need to journal anymore and honestly, I really just wanted to eat normal again, so I abandoned my journaling.  I somehow managed to maintain that initial weight loss (give or take a few pounds) over the next 9 months or so, but decided a couple months ago that it was time to get serious again. It’s not like I hadn’t been trying to lose weight still, but I had stopped calorie counting and was just trying to do the whole eat healthy-ish and work out a lot-ish thing.  Some days that worked…most days it didn’t.  I’m glad that I had at least been doing that much, since it probably is the reason I was able to maintain the weight loss. But, I’ve learned that when I want to lose weight that isn’t the way to do it, so back to calorie counting I went.

Currently, I’m using the free app on my iPhone called My Fitness Pal and I love it. It has a cool bar code feature where you can scan the bar code on almost any food item and it automatically tells you the nutrition facts for each serving and can input it right into your diary.  (See the little bar code button to the right of the search box?)

It makes it pretty hard to be lazy about counting when it’s that easy.  There is also a pretty large database of all kinds of foods from varying restaurants and grocery brands, so when there isn’t a bar code available, you can use the search feature.  It also has a social media feature where you can be friends with your real-life friends, which definitely keeps me motivated. It doesn’t tell them every piece of food you put it your mouth, but it tells that if you were under calories and when you’ve lost weight. Kind of like getting a virtual high-five from your friends!

Another thing that I love about it is that I can create my own recipes.  For instance, I make my own pizza dough, so I just input all the ingredients and now I know exactly how many calories a slice of my pizza is (I also measured out the sauce and cheese).  That’s 1,370 calories of pizza dough for an entire pizza btw…not one slice!

This helps take a lot of the guess work out of calorie counting when you are cooking at home.

One of the most important things about calorie counting is measuring.  I hate doing it, but it is a necessary evil if you want to know exactly how many calories you are consuming.  Another good tip is calculating how many calories your body needs to maintain its current weight (Basal Metabolic Rate or BMR).  You can calculate your own at this website.  My current BMR is 1,541 calories a day.  So, at the rate I’m going with eating just at 1200 calories a day, I should be able to lose about a pound every 10 days (burning 3,500 extra calories is equivalent to one pound of weight loss).  But, BMR is based on calories burned without any physical activity like as if all I did was just lay in bed all day long, so probably a pound and a half a week is a little more reasonable.

Here’s my disclaimer…Don’t get me wrong, I have no plans to eat just 1,200 calories a day for the rest of my life, but this is what works for me to lose weight.  When I do anything less drastic, I don’t see fast enough weight loss and it makes me want to give up.  I am also the kind of person that weighs myself everyday.  I know this does not work for everyone, but it keeps me motivated even if I only lose a tenth of a pound.  It is also important to be eating a well rounded diet including fruits, vegetables, and protein.  I also take a multi-vitamin everyday.  The overall goal is to be healthy, not just skinny.  Eating 1,200 calories in chips and soda everyday and nothing else may make you thin, but healthy, it will not.  Besides, you can eat a junk ton of steamed veggies for very little calories!  :)

Besides healthy eating, Dane and I have made goals to get back to working out on a more regular basis.  Lately, we’ve been mixing in strength training in with cardio…kinda cross-fit-esque without the cross fit craziness (no offense to all my cross fit loving friends!).

I have no intention of turning Bella Carina into a weight loss blog, but I felt that this milestone was note-worthy enough to talk about.  Who knows, maybe I’ll check back in after I lose another ten pounds or so.  :)

Here’s a recent picture of me with my sister…20 pounds lost.

Has anyone else seen results with calorie counting?  Do you forget how far you’ve come and need a reminder every once in a while?

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Posted in Health & Fitness | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments