Monday, November 30, 2020

A Real Hawaiian Christmas Tree

This year we treated ourselves to a real live Hawaiian Christmas tree!

We have been living abroad since April of 2015 and every Christmas we have decorated. Apartment living, especially in Asia, means small spaces. Small spaces = small decorations. Like most things, we have made the most of it. 

Here's a look at some of our Christmas decorations over the years...

Shenzhen, China 2015 - hand-me-downs from another expat on her way out of Shenzhen. 

Hong Kong 2016 - a little upgrade with the added poinsettia!

Hong Kong 2017 - upgraded our tree to a mini live branch, haha. We had a lot of presents because Grant and Georgia were both visiting that year. I don't remember where the green light came from??

Hong Kong 2018 - Not sure this is an upgrade since it's fake, but it did have lights. I bought this tree from someone who was leaving Discovery Bay and posted in the neighborhood "things for sale" group. The upgrade would definitely be the two new ornaments from Devan and Georgia (which were too heavy for our tiny tree, haha).

Kailua 2019 - another pre-lit tiny tabletop tree, but we upgraded to also hanging lights on the lanai. I always loved having lights on the house at Christmastime.

Kailua 2020 - Meet Norton, our Norfolk pine from Helemano Farms in Wahiawa. 

The day before Thanksgiving, we drove about 35 minutes from Kailua to Wahiawa. With COVID social distancing and regulations, we planned to be first in line when they opened so we could get in and out. We were second.

Helemano Farm had lots of trees. Fields and fields of baby trees not ready to be cut yet. The views with the mountains in the distance were stunning.

We wanted to find our perfect tree, so our guide led us past the pre-cut trees to the field where the mature trees were growing. 

We were told to look for the trees with the white tags - which meant they were 6 feet tall. The tags were in the middle of the tree, which was actually the bottom of what would be cut. We would be taking home the top.

After picking the best looking tree around, Daniel took about 5 seconds to cut it down. Then he carried it off to be wrapped and tied it to the top of our car. That's when we learned that we were his very first customers on his very first day! 

After stopping for lunch in Haleiwa on the North Shore, we finally got Norton home and unwrapped. Chris had to trim him a bit and wrap the base to make it fat enough to fit in the stand. Then we crossed our fingers that he would perk up and stand tall.

A few days later, I had picked up some real decorations (although still small because Norton is a delicate guy) and got to decorating. Fortunately Target, which is right around the corner from our apartment, had just what we needed for our little Hawaiian tree.

We also upgraded the lights on our lanai. I found some awesome solar lights on Amazon. They charge all day and come on as soon as it is dark enough. 

I am loving our tree and decorations this year.

How do you do Christmas?

Monday, November 23, 2020

Monday Must Haves - 5 Beautycounter Products I'm LOVING right now + ON SALE NOW

Have you ever noticed that there are things in our lives that we didn't know we needed until we tried them for the first time? That's how I feel about most of my Beautycounter products because I have never been the make-up girly-girl. I'm still not, but I do know a lot more about beauty care now that I care about what we are putting on our bodies.

So, just in case you don't know, here's a little background on Beautycounter.

As a FASTer Way coach I care about what people put IN their bodies and encourage clean, whole foods. Once I learned that MOST beauty products (make-up and skin care) are filled with unregulated toxins, I wanted to advocate using clean products ON our bodies as well. So I became a Beautycounter consultant.

Here are some of my 2020 work from home, Zoom ready favorite products:

Beyond Gloss Trio - Limited Edition colors
I love Beyond Gloss, but I'm beyond obsessed with these colors. I think women look amazing in lipstick, but I've always preferred the glossy look. 

Golden Hour All-In-One Palette - Four shadows, blush and highlighter. 
Perfect for getting ready for client calls and work trainings on Zoom. Plus, I'm looking forward to taking this to New Hampshire next month for my stepdaughter's wedding. Perfect colors and simple for travel.

Countertime Radiant Skin Set - Countertime Tripeptide Radiance Serum and Turn Back Time Facial Roller. 
I absolutely love this combo! The serum has been part of my morning and evening routine for awhile, but now it feels like I'm giving myself a little mini-facial every time I massage it into my skin with the roller. It also works well with the Counter+ All Bright C Serum.

The Jellies - Brights and Shimmers
Back to the lips! These jellies are extra glossy and each one has its own scent experience. Fun tip: you can punch a hole in the end to add it to your keychain and your gloss will never be left behind again.

Luminous Lid Cream Shadows 
My eye shadow is usually pretty low key, but I'm loving the hint of sparkle that comes from the responsibly sourced mica in these creamy shadows. 

I have many more favorites, but these are a few products that I find myself looking forward to using each day lately. The BEST news is that Beautycounter's Great Holiday Gift Event is going on right now and you can save 15% off each of my favorite products plus free shipping on orders overs $50! Treat yourself or buy a set and break it up to give as multiple gifts. Act fast though because inventory will be selling out before you know it. Sale ends 11/29/2020

New to Beautycounter or have questions? I'd love to help you get started! Shop my link here or leave your questions in the comments below.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Cilantro Lime Black Bean Rice & Chicken Bowl

I used to be the girl that kept everything separate on her plate and ate one thing at a time...ok, I still do that sometimes, but now I am more likely to throw a bunch of different foods in a bowl. 

A few nights ago, I was on my own for dinner because mrC was on a trip. I had spent most of the day getting work done and dropped the ball on meal planning for myself. Fortunately I had all the ingredients (well, most of them) for this yummy recipe from the FASTer Way meal guide.

*Every week, FASTer Way clients receive a meal guide as a resource. Clients are not required to follow it, but it definitely makes planning and coming up with ideas for meals A LOT easier. You can learn more here.

Most of the time, I like to use the meal guide as inspiration. I'll add some ingredients, substitute for others or just leave out what I don't like. That's how I put together this recipe for Cilantro Lime Black Bean Rice & Chicken Bowl.

My version:

1 cup baby spinach

1 cup read leaf lettuce

1/4 cup basmati brown rice

1/4 cup black beans seasoned with 1 tbsp lime juice, 1/4 cup frozen onion, 1 tsp dried cilantro, 1/4 tsp paprika, 1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 cup organic salsa

1 tbsp flaxseed and 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds (because I seed cycle)

4 oz grilled chicken diced

This recipe came together so easily because I had grilled a big batch of chicken earlier in the week and use pre-packaged rice (this is my favorite) and organic salsa from Whole Foods. I'm all about keeping things simple!

This is a great macro meal for days when you need all the macros! Plus it is packed with fiber to keep the gut a happy place. I encourage my clients to do meal bowls because they're more likely to have balance.

Do you like meals in bowls? What is your favorite combo?


Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Hiking: Pu'u Ma'eli'eli Trail (Digging Hill)

Our first attempt at doing this hike was postponed when mrC got an unexpected work trip. We did it a few days later under not so perfect conditions, but you can't wait for conditions to be perfect!

So, once again we headed to the trail even though the skies were cloudy and rain was in the forecast (same thing happened when we hiked Aiea Loop Trail). We parked at the Ko'olau Shopping Center and then followed the guardrail on Kahekili Highway to get to the trailhead. It was super easy to find.

After two climbs to get our legs warmed up right off the bat, I looked behind us at the Ko'olau Mountains topped with clouds. We see them in the distance every day, but I will never get tired of taking in their beauty. 

The reviews of this trail warned that it would not be easy or fun to hike it in the rain, so we crossed our fingers that the rain would hold off and the trail stay dry.

Hiking Pu'u Ma'eli'eli was fitting for a Monday hike because the trail ascended in intervals (we do HIIT workouts on Mondays in the FASTer Way community). Just when our legs were tiring from the climb, it leveled out. It's become our routine to have me lead us on the way out and mrC takes over on the way back.

It didn't take us long at all to reach the first pillbox (underground), but it was at the top of a final big climb. Fortunately there were ropes in place to help us get up.

About 20 yards beyond the first pillbox, was the pillbox with the view. The view was still pretty awesome, even on this really cloud covered day. To me, Kaneohe Bay looked like it might if Hawaii actually had a winter, like it was frozen.

We only hung out on the pillbox for a short period because the sprinkles started getting heavier. We are getting better at our selfie game.

mrC took the lead on the way back and it was slow going. The rain came down hard enough that we actually broke out the rain jackets. Any chance of getting off the trail with mud-free shoes went out the window, but at least no one slipped and fell.

Taking in one more view of Kaneohe Bay and mrC points out Coconut Island - a marine research facility for University of Hawaii.

We are happy to cross another new hike off our list, but this is one we will do again on a better weather day to get those amazing views of Kaneohe Bay in the sun.

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Blueberry Protein Bars

I've been making these protein bars for years, but the way I make them has evolved enough that it was time to write an updated blog post. 

It is also worth noting that these bars are perfect snack material for Feast Days. If you are not following the FASTer Way yet, Feast Days are when we strategically increase our food intake by 25%. For a lot of people on health journeys (trying to lose weight), this sounds like a crazy and even scary idea. However, eating MORE helps with metabolic adaptation and prevents plateaus.

  • That means the thyroid will be active and functioning which raises the metabolic rate increasing the fat burning process. 
  • It helps prevent muscle breakdown which also keeps our metabolism revved up. 
  • When we eat a little more than our body is expecting, our cortisol levels and hormones are in check and happily letting the body burn fat for fuel.
So, like I was saying, we aim to eat more food, but we still focus on whole food nutrition.

The recipe:

2 cups quick cooking gluten free oats

1 cup protein powder (I use vanilla)

1/4 cup organic buckwheat flour

1 tbsp ground flaxseed

1T chia seeds

1 tbsp cinnamon 

1 cup sunbutter

1/4 cup honey

6-8 oz blueberries (mash half)

I combine all the dry ingredients separately from the wet ingredients. Then I gradually add the wet ingredients to the dry. Sometimes I need to add a little water to help the mixing along. I toss the whole blueberries in last.

Spread mixture into a sprayed baking dish. Bake 350 degrees 15 min. Let cool. Cut and refrigerate.

If you make them, tag me in your post @amycainefitness and let me know what you think!