10/30/12

Whole Foods Carrollwood sneak peek!

This is my good friend Anna. I love Anna because over the summer she was hired as the Marketing Director for the brand new Whole Foods that’s opening up in Carollwood next week! Ok, that’s not the ONLY reason why Anna rocks, but as a foodie, I can’t help but be thrilled to know someone with Whole Foods connections. 😉 She also writes and manages an amazing blog called Marry Me Tampa Bay. If you’re getting married (or dreaming about getting married like me), you may want to check it out! 😉 Anna actually invited a few local bloggers to participate in a focus group back in mid-July to talk about some of the ideas we had for involving Whole Foods with the community and picked our brains as far as what we’d like to see happening in the store, and how we could help her promote all that the new store will offer. The thing about Whole Foods is they’re all about grassroots advertising, and bloggers are the PERFECT way to get the word out there! One of the events that Anna invited the community to was a sneak peek of the store before it opened. I jumped at the chance, as we’d get a behind the scenes tour (complete with tastings and freebies!) of the new location. I spent a wonderful evening with Monica, from Sweetbites perusing around the hustle and bustle of the new (still under construction) Whole Foods store! The new store is located at the corner of Northdale Blvd and North Dale Mabry Highway in Carrollwood. Because of it’s location, it’s right in the middle of a very large community of families and surrounded by schools, a YMCA and other community centers. Anna has already begun partnerships with many local non-profit organizations prior to the grand opening. Even at tonight’s sneak peek, guests were given the opportunity to donate to the local YMCA branch. I happily donated, knowing that the Y does many great things for the community. The first thing I noticed about the location is how fresh and airy it appears. With floor to ceiling windows, well-lit aisles and bright colors, this is an inviting space where shoppers feel like they’re shopping at an outdoor market. Tour groups were leaving every 15 minutes, and Monica and I were lucky enough to be able to go through the tour in the same group. The tour lasted around an hour and a half and took us through all the departments of the store. At each stop, we were greeted by knowledgeable staff who filled us in on everything from the products to the buying process to the community outreach programs that Whole Foods is involved with. I was very impressed with Whole Trade, which is basically their name for “Fair Trade”, which they actively promote. You can read about here. I was also very interested in learning about their Local Producer Loan Program. You can read about here. Every product is consciously placed on their shelves with a purpose in mind. I love that they give back to their local community and have incorporated best practices when choosing products. We learned about their process for how they choose their meats, fish, and produce. All of their fresh meats abide by the 5 Step Animal Welfare Rating Standards. This ensures fair and humane treatment of all the animals providing meat to all of their stores. We were even “introduced” to two of their farmers, who you will be able to meet if you decide to come out to the grand opening! Whole Foods pulled out all the stops for tonight’s visit. We were greeted with goodie bags that were filled to the rim with freebies as we literally “trick or treated” around the store. We were also spoiled with appetizers. Key lime shrimp, chocolate peanut butter brownies, raspberry cookies, coffee, parmigiano reggiano cheese (amazing!), fresh pineapple, spicy sausage, and pumpkin tortellini. I really enjoyed the coffee. It was rich and smooth- so good that no cream or sweetener was necessary. Oh, and get this. In an effort to keep be as green as possible, if you bring in your own reusable mug or coffee cup, they’ll fill you up with their Whole Foods blend for just $1! That is incredible deal considering a cup of drive thru coffee can be up to $4 a cup! I was very impressed with how knowledgeable each department team leader was. I learned so much about identifying organic vs. non-organic items, including efforts that Whole Foods has ma
de to stock their shelves with truly organic whole body products like shampoos and makeup. (We even got free lip balm that I cannot wait to try tomorrow!). I’m really excited about the new hot foods section that will include BBQ smoked in house! Their maple & cola pulled pork gets a thumbs up from their hot foods team leader. 😉 I’m a big fan of Whole Foods’ hot pizza. The Greek (when they have it) is usually my go-to flavor. Although it wasn’t mentioned, I hope they plan on carrying fresh sushi- another one of my t0-go favorites. And if you’re ever planning on eating in (and taking advantage of those $1 cups of coffee), they have a roomy seating area, both inside and out. And don’t forget to recycle! They really make it a no-brainer (and kid friendly!). Here are a few more highlights from the store:

Aren’t those mini potatoes adorable?

Whole Foods can make even a post-it look delicious!

Obviously Monica had MORE than her fill of fun. 😉 I’ll be at the Grand Opening come this weekend. If you’re local to the Tampa Bay area, please stop by! Here’s a sneak peek of some of the events happening: Thursday, Nov. 1 8am Free continental breakfast outside on the patio (with entertainment provided by the Gaither High School Marching Band and Cheerleaders!) 9am Bread breaking ceremony and doors open! *The first 500 shoppers will receive a Whole Foods Market reusable bag filled with goodies at checkout *Vendor samples and cooking demos throughout the store. *Grand opening sales and specials *Live music throughout the day *Giveaways including a chance to win a $500 Healthy Eating Pantry makeover *And 1% of net sales will benefit the Hope Children’s Home! Hours are 9am-10pm, 7 days a week Friday, Nov. 2 All events that started at 9am from the previous day will carry over to Friday! *1% of net sales will benefit Meals on Wheels Tampa. 6pm-8pm Healthy Happy Hour on the patio including healthy smoothies, nutritious appetizers and live music. Saturday, Nov. 3 All events that started at 9am from the previous day will carry over to Saturday! *1% of net sales will benefit Quantum Leap Farm 10am Allegro coffee company demonstration at the coffee bar, including a coffee lovers gift basket giveaway! Noon Parmigiano Reggiano wheel cracking and tasting 3pm Cooking with sustainable seafood, including Atlantic Salmon Noon-4pm Kids activities on the patio including how to eat a rainbow, face painting, coloring and a social media photo booth! Sunday, Nov. 4 All events that started at 9am from the previous day will carry over to Sunday! *1% of net sales will benefit Carrollwood Cultural Center 11am Health Starts Here Kalicious Smoothies, including tastings and demos 11am-2pm Kids activities on the patio including crafts. 1pm Whole Meals! Whole Deals! Learn how to make delicious holiday recipes (and get some coupons!) 2pm-4pm Face painting 4pm Sundae Sunday: learn how to make Health Starts Here banana ice cream (including toppings!) 4pm Healthy Holiday Entertaining: demos and tastings for the holiday season Steph 🙂

10/28/12

Fall Follies (and a Healthy Holiday Challenge)

Can you believe that it’s already the end of October? Fall is flying by, and today I stopped a second to take it all in.

After a scrumptious breakfast at Cracker Barrel, Mr. KKM took me to the local pumpkin patch to pick out a lil’ guy for our porch. We went to Bearrs Groves up in North Tampa and I was SHOCKED at the size of the pumpkins they were selling!

I’m a sucker for a gourd with a long stem, so it didn’t take me long to narrow it down to a favorite.

And of course, it took me no time at all for Jack to show up

I’m totally a traditional jack-o-lantern type of girl. 😉
Did you do any fall-y activities this weekend?

And now for some news! I’m hosting a Healthy Holiday Challenge! 
The Holidays officially start next Wednesday with candypalooza (aka Halloween). From there on it’s allllll down hill with fall and winter holidays circulating around food, and more food. With cookie parties, pot-lucks, turkeys, rugelach, candy canes and, well you get my drift, it’s SO easy to make some not-so-healthy choices justifying them by promising to undo the damage come January 1st.

Let’s support each other through the holiday season with a Healthy Holiday Challenge!

Here’s how it will work: Starting on Monday, October 29th (yup, before Halloween) you’ll weigh yourself. Take a picture of your starting weight and email it to me. *Pictures will NOT be shared with anyone, so don’t worry.

Each Saturday morning (the earlier, the better!) weigh yourself again and email that picture. In the text of the email figure out the % of weight loss that you lost for that week (pounds lost/starting weight * 100= % lost) For example. If I weigh 250lbs and I lose 3lbs that would be 3/250=.012*100=1.2% meaning I lost 1.2% of my body weight. Tracking % of weight loss instead of total pounds loss keeps an even playing field, no matter what your current weight may be.(If a person weighs 160lbs and loses 2lbs it will also come out to 1.2%, even though they lost less pounds. Get it?) Weighing in on Saturday mornings gives you the option of using Saturday nights for a night out, beer, etc without worrying about sabotaging all your progress from the previous week! I’ll be creating a private group page for anyone interested in participating, and be posting the Top 5 % losers each Sunday evening.

We will declare a winner on January 5, 2013! (if the Mayans are wrong). We’ll be collecting $10 from everyone participating in the challenge. The top loser will win 75% of the cash; 2nd place will win 25%. If you’re going to commit to the challenge, please make arrangements to send or give me your payment by November 3rd (through PayPal by searching Kitchenkilometers@Gmail.com), that way if you quit half way through the challenge because of your choice, the cash pot won’t be affected.

So are you in? If so, get ready to weigh yourself on Monday morning and email your starting weight to kitchenkilometers@gmail.com! Let’s survive the holiday season together! Feel free to invite friends to join in the fun!

Steph 🙂

*No diet pills, extreme/harmful diets, laxatives, shots or the like may be used during this challenge. We’re promoting healthy CHOICES with our eating and exercise to help us build those healthy routines, even during the toughest of times! 🙂

10/27/12

5 lies (and a winner!)

Sometimes we can be our own worst enemies, especially when it comes to our physical abilities, self-image and goal reaching. We tell ourselves lies to justify our actions, or lack thereof.
Here are some tips on how to turn off that little negative voice in your head that’s lying to you, and start living your best life possible.

Lie #1 – I can’t do it.

Have you tried? Have you modified the activity that you want to do? Modification does not equal failure. Everyone starts off as a beginner. So think about what you’re saying “can’t” to, and find ways that will help transition those “I can’t” statements into “I did” statements. Before you say “I can’t”, think about ways you can adjust, change or extend the time you’ve given yourself to be able to do the activity you want to do.

Have you ever heard of scaffolding? It means to start off with a modified simple task, and then make it increasingly more difficult until you’ve mastered the skill. It’s a basic teaching method that can apply to almost anything in life!
Remember- you have to walk a mile before you run a marathon.

Lie #2 – I don’t like it.

What part don’t you like? Whether it’s a food, activity, or part of your life that you don’t like, you’ve got to dig into the reasons you’re saying this to begin with. Just uttering the words “I don’t like it” is not enough of a reason. It’s a lie we tell ourselves often, and sometimes it’s even an excuse.

Many people avoid a healthy diet because “they don’t like fruits and vegetables”. There are so many recipes out there that incorporate these healthy staples in a fun, interesting and delicious way that there’s bound to be something that piques your interest. You just have to try. Ignore that little judgmental voice in your head and give things a chance that you may not have liked before.

And if it’s something about yourself that you don’t like (I don’t like being single; I don’t like my thighs; I don’t like my job) then figure out why you feel negatively about these situations and create ways to improve them.
“I don’t like” is no longer an acceptable excuse!

Lie #3 – I won’t succeed.

The most common lie we tell ourselves is “I won’t”. It’s the beginning of the “I quit” mentality. When things get difficult, it’s easy to say “I won’t ever reach this goal”, giving you an easy out to stop reaching for it.
Think about what makes you say “I won’t”. Are you afraid of failure? Do you think you’ll get hurt? Are you embarrassed to even start because you think you’re not capable? Figure out what makes you say “I won’t”, and go from there.

Remember- your goals are YOURS. You can achieve them at your own pace, with your own modifications by scaffolding. When motivation wanes, think about ways to regain it. Talk about your goals with friends. Maybe they’ll join you. Celebrate small achievements. It’ll get you excited about doing more.
Know your limits and adjust the steps towards your goal with those limitations in mind.

Lie #4 – I’m not ____ enough.

I’m not good enough. I’m not strong enough. I’m not pretty enough. I’m not smart enough. I’m guilty of this lie. We all are.
Confidence is a difficult thing to find, and a lack of creates those barriers that block us from reaching our goals. Do these lies stem from fear?
Anxiety?
Past experiences?
What defines “enough” anyway?

When you stop comparing yourself to others, you’ll find that what works for you and what makes you happy IS enough. And if something isn’t working for you, or you aren’t happy, then work on ways to change those situations. Using the “I’m not” excuse will only get you so far, so stop lying to yourself.
Find ways to change “I’m not” into “I am”.

Lie #5 – I don’t have time.

I don’t have time to pack my lunch. I don’t have time to work out. I don’t have time to cook meals. I don’t have time for myself. There are 24 hours in a day, yet some people still tell themselves this lie. There’s always time. No one works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
I know life can get busy (I work a full time job, run a household, and volunteer), but I always make time to fit healthy choices into my life.

Prepping healthy meals on weekends, swapping out a 30 minute TV show for a walk, buying healthy snacks to throw in my workbag to avoid the dangers of the vending machine, or joining a book club or yoga class for some much needed “me time”.
It can be done; it just takes some scheduling effort. We all have time; we just don’t all use it wisely.
Think about your daily routine, and find 15 minutes here and there to start incorporating healthy choices into your life.

What other lies are you telling yourself and how are you going to work to change those negatives into positives?

-Steph

PS- Winner of the Passion Party giveaway has been notified! (please check your SPAM folder if you didn’t receive an inbox message as the winner hasn’t responded back to me as of yet). 🙂

10/25/12

Camping season

It’s that time of year!

Yup. It’s camping season, kids! It’s the most wonderful timeeeeeeeee of the yearrrrrrrrrr!

Thankfully, Mr. KKM loves to camp just as much as I do.

What I love most about Florida are all of the amazingly beautiful camping spots that are sprinkled throughout the state. From the Florida Keys to Tallahassee, you’ll find hidden gems all over. I absolutely adore Florida Caverns State Park up in the panhandle, Manatee Springs near the nature coast, Johnathan Dickinson State Park in Jupiter, and Bahia Honda State Park in the lower Florida Keys. But if I had to narrow it down to my favorite, it would have to be Tillis Hills Recreational Area in Inverness.

Tillis Hills is nestled snugly in the middle of the 157,479-acre Withlacoochee State Forest in west central Florida.

With hiking trails, limestone caves, muddy rough terrain roads, no light pollution and scattered ponds, the forest is a dense, wild-life packed part of Florida that I love spending time in.

There are actually three campgrounds in the forest, but Tillis Hill is the most picturesque.

Writing this post floods my mind and heart with so many memories. We are a family that definitely camps together. Cousins, parents, aunts, uncles, even grandparents will all get their campers and tents lined up along the campsite and enjoy weekends upon weekends together in the great outdoors.

My mom loved camping. Her camper was her world. She loved to be out there by the campfire, cooking up bacon on the outdoor kitchen, geocaching through hiking trails, and deer shining by the moonlight.

It’s hard to go back to Tillis Hill, knowing my mother isn’t physically there with us anymore. However, I know Mr. KKM and I have a lot of fun times and memories ahead of us. 🙂

Do you camp? What’s your favorite campground?

10/22/12

Race recap: Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5k

There really are no words that can sum up this:

And that’s just a shot. All in all 12,000 participants put on their pink bras in celebration of life.

And Team Judy was there all 3.1, pink-filled miles. Except, of course, we donned our orange, Team Judy’s signature color. You really couldn’t miss us sprinkled amongst the massive crowd.

My co-worker (and former 5th grade teacher, gasp!) Mr. Lemery came out to photograph the race for us and although we couldn’t get everyone together all at once, here are two pictures that most of Team Judy are in.

After forming Team Judy for the Miles for Moffitt 5k just a month after her passing, I didn’t think that this would affect me as much as it did. Moffitt was geared at raising awareness for all cancers. Strides was all about Breast Cancer. It was in your face everywhere you looked. Shirts that said “In memory of”, people currently fighting, women who have had mastectomies, men who’ve lost their wives, children like me who were walking “for their mom”, men who were diagnosed and didn’t even know they could get breast cancer, teams who hadn’t been affected by breast cancer, but were walking anyway, and of course the survivors, which hit me the hardest. I know it’s selfish for me to always think these thoughts, but I wish my mom would have been able to call herself a survivor. I always look at these people- young, old, from all walks of life, different races, cultures, levels of health and think why them, and not my mom? It’s a tough pill to swallow, but it’s a fact I face everyday. I tried to hold back the tears on more than one occasion while we were waiting for the race to start, but it wasn’t easy. I didn’t make a big deal about it, because, after all, this race wasn’t about me. I know I didn’t fool Mr. KKM, nor did I fool my friend Lindsey because she put her hand on my shoulder, even though I know I was probably smiling or cracking a joke at the time. Darn her intuition! 😉

All in all it was an amazing day filled with the spirit that is the cure. We all want it, and we’re doing what it takes to bring breast cancer awareness to the forefront so that our children won’t ever have to worry about it. We came together to show that we will never forget our loved ones and I know that those who are no longer with us were walking along Bayshore Boulevard, in the beautiful sunshine, right beside us. Here are some more highlights.

A HUGE thank you to everyone who donated, participated, and helped prep for this race! I appreciate you more than you know! It was an amazing weekend filled with fundraising and love all around! Until next year! 😀

Steph

PS- Stay tuned for a BIG announcement! Team Judy will be at it again very soon! 🙂

10/17/12

Don’t get MUD on the new Sauconys!

I’m going to be pretty muddy!

I’ve always dabbled with the idea of doing a mud run, but I must say… they’re a bit intimidating. As I’ve been reading about Pretty Muddy on Twitter, other blogs and Facebook, I realized that this may just be the perfect race for first timers! Here are some points from the website:

Is Pretty Muddy a timed event?

Nah. If you want to race the course, then we fully support that. You can take as much time out there as you like. If you love an obstacle and want to do it again – go for it!

What are the obstacles like?

The obstacles were built with “fun” being our number one objective. Some will challenge you a little, some might challenge you a lot – but we’ll be there every step of the way to help you through it.

Do I have to do every obstacle?

Of course not. Every obstacle will have a sign showing you around it. Only do the ones you feel comfortable doing and don’t feel bad going around a few – this is your day, do what you want to do.

THIS is the obstacle course race for me!

Some of my blogger friends were giving a free entry away to the race, and I decided to go ahead and try my luck. Although I didn’t think I would be brave enough to sign up for one of these on my own, I figured WINNING an entry would be the push I needed to cross this off my fitness bucket list.

Well, friends, I WON! THIS is what I read on Jessica’s blog, Cuban Running Crisis earlier this morning:

Needless to say, I’m SO excited and cannot wait to share this experience with you guys! Being that it’s my first mud run, I’ve love some advice! So, what are your tips for surviving crossing the finish line of a obstacle/mud run?

On a separate note…. THESE babies arrived on my doorstep today!

Just a few days ago I found out that I had been chosen for Saucony’s #FindYourStrong campaign! I’ll be taking these babies out for a spin tomorrow and will have all the details about the campaign, and a review on these not-available-until-November-1st running shoes!

Talk soon!
Steph

PS- I’ve been seeing these shoes pop up all over social media, and haven’t seen the orange ones yet. I cannot BELIEVE I was sent a pair of orange Saucony’s with orange laces! These SCREAM #TEAMJUDY! So excited. 😉

10/15/12

Sentimental value

I get giddy over cookbooks.

Especially old ones.

See that shelf behind me? It’s completely filled to the top with treasures. Many of which my mom gave to me, which are now the most priceless possessions, aside from pictures, that I own.

My mom would love to give me cookbooks for any reason.

She’d always write a little message on the inside with the date and sometimes even the holiday when the book was given.

Sometimes I sit in my kitchen looking through all of these books, touching the ink, knowing my mom’s fingerprints are there.

These cookbooks tell a story. They’re books that I can pass on to my children, to hopefully spark their own love for cooking, and to hold a piece of the grandmother they never got to meet.

The last cookbook my mom gave me was the Meatball cookbook I’m holding in the first picture above. It was a Christmas present that she ordered, signed by the authors, and of course, by her.

This was our last Christmas together, and I’m so glad I have this to remember it by.

My mom was the one who inspired me to begin building my own cookbook collection. Although I have many that I buy new, my favorite books are the ones with writing in them. You’ll typically find me perusing through piles and boxes of old cookbooks at garage sales or flea markets, looking for books like this

I always wonder how people can part with something so sentimental. I always wonder how these end up in dusty flea market dollar crates.

I found this one a few years ago at Webster flea market. This tugs at my heart strings.

When my grandmother died, we cleaned out her house and although we couldn’t keep everything, I made sure to hold on to her recipes and cookbooks, as my grandmother loved to jot down notes and hide newspaper clippings and recipe snippets in the nooks and crannies of each book.

Mr. KKM’s grandmother sent me this last year when she found out about my love of cookbooks and sentimental messages

Although I’ve never met her, I feel like a little piece of her is here in our home with this gift.

Before you toss your old cookbooks out, let me know. Those scribble-filled, falling apart, fringed books might be trash to you, but they’re my cupboard’s treasures.

What do you treasure?
Steph 🙂

10/14/12

Happy Birthday Baby Brother part II

“Hey Jason, do you have the best sister in the world?”

Thought so. 😉

Sunday was filled with house cleaning (can’t wait for my cousin Sabrina’s visit in a few days!), burger grilling, balloon blowing, cake eating, beer drinking, football and The Walking Dead watching. Which, however, I will no longer watch because they felt the need to kill an owl in the first 5 minutes of tonight’s season premier. There could have been ANY bird in that house- pigeon, hawk, buzzard, canary. But no. It was an owl. My favorite animal. You’re dead to me, AMC.

Ok. I’m done. 🙂 Back to the festivities.

Yes, he’s blowing out a Yankee Candle. We forgot a minor detail.

Ok, so about the card….

I don’t know when I started this, but every card I give to my immediate family (if I did this to anyone else, they’d think I was nuts) I add pictures and funny sayings or situations that poke fun at them. For my dad, it usually involves his lack of hunting skill (seriously- he’s only shot 1 deer in 30 years). For my brother, it usually involves big trucks or muscles. For birthday number 24, I went the muscle route which explains all the flexing in the above “schedule”. (And yes, even at 24 years old, he still calls me “Sister”). Hey, what can I say, cards just aren’t interesting enough these days. 😉

I’ve got a busy week ahead of me, so I’m out! I cannot WAIT to share all the fun things I’ve got planned for Team Judy this week! Race day is less than a week away!

How was your weekend? Do you have any silly birthday traditions?
Steph 🙂

10/14/12

Happy birthday baby brother!

Today my kid brother turns 24! Happy Birthday Jason!

Twenty-four years ago today my mom was missing her brother Marty’s wedding (their anniversary is on 10/15) because she had just given birth to this 9lb 4oz BIG bundle of joy. I remember us all going in our party attire to visit her and meet the new baby. Even the bride and groom went in their wedding best to the hospital to celebrate the arrival. I was only 9 when my brother was born (yes, go ahead and do the math!) but I remember his birth very vividly, as it turned out to be quite the wedding/birth event!

And now, some baby pictures, because what else would a big sister do than embarrass her kid brother on her blog? 😉

Look at those chubby cheeks!

This is his “scared of the photographer” face.

The birthday boy and his closed eyes!

Not sure why his head is tilted? Oh, and proof my cousin Glenn graduated!

In his baby thuglet days.

Ok, Ok… I’ll stop. That’s enough embarrassing for year 24. (Wait until he turns 30!) 😉

I hope you have a fantastic birthday baby brother. I know you miss mom, but she would be proud of you. The first birthday without her is hard, but we’ll get through it (with cake, lots of cake).

Here’s to a great 24th year!

Love, Sister