Wednesday, April 16, 2014

New Year's Resolutions: I Failed Miserably

It is hard for me to admit that I failed miserably at anything, but I have failed at keeping my New Year's Resolutions this year.  I wrote a public letter to myself (found here), in hopes that it would improve my chances of keeping my Resolutions.

I think my failure was a direct result of several things, diet "burn out" from the last few years of heavy dieting and very strenuous exercise, and stress.

I did keep a few of my resolutions.
  • I did manage to find someone to edit my posts, one of the many advantages of having a Professor as a fiance.  
  • I also turned off the television more, and that resulted in more "Mommy and Me" reading time for Gabe and I. I love that he chooses to read with me 30 minutes before bed instead of watching cartoons.  

I realized that I really suck at a few things.
  • I don't treat my body that way I should
  • I constantly criticize my body, and refer to myself as "fat". 
I procrastinate when it comes to my dieting and exercise routine. The worst advice you can give yourself is, "I'll start my diet tomorrow, or I can squeeze in a few extra minutes of exercise tomorrow." Why wait for tomorrow when you should start today? In reality, these shouldn't be daily decisions, I should make long-term lifestyle choices.

My biggest vice is stress eating. It s a cycle of stress, comfort eating, guilt, and then stress eating again.  It is a coping mechanism for me. It is a very unhealthy pattern, and I am working hard to control it.

Last night, instead of reaching for a chocolate bar I had a bowl of sliced strawberries and raspberries.

This morning, I had a bowl of oatmeal made with skim milk and fruit.

Today's lunch will be a mint chocolate Zone Perfect bar and a cup of greek yogurt.

Here are a few suggestions for making healthier eating choices: 

Two of my favorite snack or meal replacement options are:

I am going to change my New Year's Resolutions to Lifestyle Resolutions. I am going to make a promise to myself that I will make healthier lifestyle choices.

I have created a Pinterest board with lots of healthy eating ideas and recipes.

Visit Jessica Urgelles' profile on Pinterest.

Zone Perfect bars are a great way to establish healthier eating habits by adding low calorie protein and fibers sources to your diet.  

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Don't wait until New Year's to make resolutions, you can make lifestyle resolutions anytime. 

Did you make any New Year's Resolutions? Did you keep them? If so, how did you keep yourself on track? If you didn't, what was your biggest barrier to success.  I would love to hear about changes that you have made or plan to make. 

Disclaimer: I was selected to participate in the Blog Forward Challenge. I received complimentary product and ZonePerfect promotional items for my participation, but all opinions shared with readers are entirely my own. 

Happy Wisdom-filled Wednesday,

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Thoughtful Thursday: Shot@Life Smartphone Application

There are many reasons why funding for global vaccine access should be a priority.

Photo Credit: Shot@Life 

I want to highlight a few reasons why:

  • It is the morally correct thing to do. All children have the right to live a healthy life regardless of where they were born.  Every 20 seconds a child dies of a vaccine preventable disease. Don't you find this unacceptable? 
  • Germs don't need passports to travel. A threat to public health any where is a threat here, especially in growing unvaccinated populations. 
  • Dollar for dollar it is the most cost effective form of humanitarian aid.  
If you have read this far down, you probably agree with me.

Maybe you're curious what you can do to help and you're unsure where to start?

Photo Credit: Shot@Life 
Probably the easiest way to get started is to download the free Shot@Life smartphone application.  
The app makes its incredibly easy to take action and start advocating for global vaccine access. 

The smartphone app can:

  • Track milestones for a child(ren) that you love
  • Snap photos of important milestones 
  • Show you easy advocacy actions
  • Sign up for text alerts 
  • Share all of the above via social media 

Here are a few screenshots to show you how easy advocacy can be. I inputed my zip code, and the app found the twitter handles for my Members of Congress. I just selected Representative Harold Rogers and it composed my tweet. I can also send precomposed emails through the application, and customize those emails.

Photo Credit: Shot@Life 

I have been a Champion with Shot@Life for 16 months now, and today was the first time I noticed that I could sign up to receive text alerts about the campaign or important actions. Who said you can't teach an old dog new tricks? 

So what are you waiting for? 

Download the app and start advocating.  

Can't get enough social good? 

The Shot@Life campaign is hosting an Advocate2Vaccinate Coast to Coast Challenge.  Many of the above actions are eligible to earn points for your region (And this blog post earned points too!) 

To learn more about he Advocate2Vaccinate Coast-to-Coast Challenge click here

Easy as Pie: Southern Buttermilk Pie Recipe

I haven't always been a fan of pie. If I were offered the choice of cake or pie, a few years ago my choice would have always been cake. What was I thinking? My palate changed significantly as an adult, and I love a good slice of pie.

My favorite recipe is a Southern Buttermilk Pie. I thought I would share two versions with you today, a plain Southern Buttermilk Pie and a Chocolate Buttermilk Pie. These pies are super easy to make and disappear quickly.  

For both pies you will preheat the oven to 325 F 

Southern Buttermilk Pie
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1/4 c. flour
  • 1 c. buttermilk
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 9 inch pie crust 

Chocolate Buttermilk Pie
  • 1 c. to 1.5 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips (depending on taste)
  • 1 c. sugar 
  • 1/4 c. flour 
  • 1 c. buttermilk
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 9 inch deep dish pie crust 

My original recipe called for 1.5 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips. It is a delicious version, but you can only eat a sliver because it is so rich. I personally prefer 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips.  

I start by melting my chocolate chips in the microwave. I put them in a microwave safe bowl, turn them on 30 seconds on medium, and then stir. I microwave them on 15 second increments and stir until they start to get glossy and smooth.  

If you are making the plain Southern Buttermilk version start here:

I advise to sift your flour, if you have a sifter. It will not ruin your pie if you do not, just mix all the dry ingredients first (sugar, flour, salt). Add the eggs and mix well, and then add the vanilla.  

Here is the difference between the Chocolate and Southern Buttermilk:
For the Southern Buttermilk version add 1 cup of softened butter 
For the Chocolate Buttermilk add 1 cup (or 1.5 cups) of melted semi-sweet chocolate chips. 

I strongly advise that you water bath the pies while they bake. It is easy, and it will help ensure the center of your pie sets when it cools without burning your crust. If you have never water bathed a pie or cheesecake, I am going to include instructions.  

Water Bath

I use an old roasting pan, and I fill the pan up with enough water to just below the first joint on my index finger when submerged. You have two options for putting the pie pan in the roasting pan after the water is added. 
  • Be VERY careful, pull out your top oven rack some, place the roasting pan on the oven rack, place the pie in the roasting pan, and carefully try to slide the rack in without sloshing water everywhere.  
  • You can sit the pie down in the roasting pan, and trying to gently move the roasting pan filled with water to the oven.                
Either way you choose, just take care to not get burned.  

Bake the pie at 325 F for 60 minutes

To remove the pie, slightly pull the oven rack out and lift the entire roasting pan out. You don't want to spill water on your freshly baked pie, so do this slowly. I let the pie sit on the oven in the roasting pan until the water has cooled off significantly, but if you are in a rush a few ice cubes in the pan (around the pie) will help it cool faster.  

  • Please don't burn or scald yourself, take caution when removing the pie from the water.  

I have baked the pie without the water bath, but I don't advise it. You need to bake that pie long enough so that the pie "sets" when it is cooled, and that can cause you to scorch your crust. 

After it has cooled down, transfer the pie to the refrigerator and chill for an hour. 

This pie is great with fresh whipped cream.  

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Aventura #SpringStyleChallenge

My Mother and I were having a conversation a few days ago about how opinionated my 4 year old son is about his clothing. He wants to wear specific shoes, especially his Gap rain boots when it sunny and 75 outside. He is also has a slight obsession with all things Super Mario Bros related, and insists on wearing something Mario even if it is under the rest of his clothing.

According to my Mom, I was also quite the lil fashionista growing up. Do you know that southern phrase, "paying for your raisin"? She is fairly adamant that Gabe could never be as opinionated or as difficult about his clothing choices as I was, but I am certain his opinionated personality is just nature's way of "paying me back."

We never truly outgrow those behaviors. I still love clothes, shoes, and makeup, and I am equally selective with my clothing purchases.

Several weeks ago, I was notified that I was chosen as an Aventura Clothing Ambassador. I was super excited not only because I get to wear some of their beautiful clothes, but I was helping to support a family owned and eco-friendly clothing line.

I received my first few pieces, and I was amazed at how soft the organic cotton was. I couldn't wait for
spring to arrive so that I could wear my new clothes.

Another great part of my ambassadorship is being able to offer my readers discounts and opportunities to win clothing items from their line.

Here is my first Aventura giveaway:
One winner will receive a discount code for 60% off a single order and one free accessory item of choice.  Personally, I love the Tacey Fedora or the Double Wrap Skinny Belt.

Wearing my Tacey Fedora and Juliette sweater

How do you win:

  • Snap a pic of yourself wearing something related to the challenge of the day.
  • Upload the photo to Twitter, Instagram,  Facebook, or Pinterest. 
  • Use the hashtag #SpringStyleChallenge
  • Tag me and Aventura clothing use the social media platform of your choice.  
  • You can score one entry for every day that you participate
  • One winner will be selected at random.


          Instagram               @jurgelles                                   @aventuraclothing
          Twitter                   @Bluegrass_Belle                       @aventuraclothing
          Facebook               @Blog of a Bluegrass Belle         @Aventura Clothing              
          Pinterest                 @jurgelles                                    @Aventura Clothing 

Today's challenge is "These boots were made for walking..." and here is my photo

I can't wait to see all the photos, and I will be showing you more from the Aventura clothing line in the weeks ahead. 

Good Luck & Happy Wednesday,

I have received items from Aventura clothing for my participation in the Ambassador program, all opinions are entirely my own. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Why I choose to Advocate2Vaccinate

Fourteen months ago I knew very little about how to contact our Senators and Representatives, much less about lobbying in Washington D.C. Last January, the General Federation of Women’s Clubs selected me to represent them in their partnership with the United Nations Foundation Shot@Life campaign to advocate for global vaccine access. I was sent to Washington, D.C., to learn about public speaking, advocacy, and fundraising, but I discovered much more about myself as a citizen and as a person. 

Image credit: Shot@Life

In 1933, a young woman named Rose Garland Cole graduated from Union College. She moved to a holler’ in Stinking Creek to teach, first in a one room school, and eventually at Dewitt Elementary. Rose was small in stature, but what she lacked in size she made up for in heart and passion. She taught hundreds of students in her education career which spanned nearly five decades. Rose taught at several one room schools in the Dewitt area, Dewitt Elementary, and Dewitt Baptist Church Sunday School, often with a Bible on her desk and a paddle at her side. She loved God, her family, her students, and this community. 

Rose Garland Cole 

Rose was no stranger to generosity, and her own family undoubtedly influenced her kindness. Her brothers Beckham, Charles, and James Garland had each contributed to her education; they helped to pay the tuition for Rose and their sister Etta to attend Union College. All five siblings would eventually graduate and teach in Knox County during their careers. 

It was Rose Garland Cole who motivated me to return to Washington, D.C. with the United Nations Foundation Shot@Life campaign in recent weeks. Her devotion to community influenced me profoundly. She had always told me to stand up for others—a lesson that I had almost forgotten. She wanted to positively influence her students and family. 

Poverty has a powerful influence on society. It prevents access to basic needs including food, clean water, access to healthcare, and education with no respect for geographic boundaries. I stumbled in on Cameron Mills speaking at Knox Central High School on Tuesday, and he mentioned the difference between the poverty we see in our community and extreme poverty abroad. He reminded students that many families living in extreme poverty don’t know where their next meal is coming from, and there are no organizations there to help. 

People here struggle with paying for doctor visits, medical procedures, and medication, but children in developing nations don’t even have these options. Did you know that every 20 seconds a child dies of a vaccine-preventable disease? Polio, measles, pneumococcal disease, and rotavirus routinely take the lives of children around the world. Did you know that $20 can vaccinate a child against these diseases for an entire lifetime? Every child deserves the right to a healthy life, and parents shouldn’t live in fear of losing their children to vaccine-preventable diseases. 

Image credit: GFWC 
Last week I had the pleasure to speak the Interclub dinner for the Barbourville Woman’s Study Club, Barbourville Junior Woman's Study Club, and Barbourville YoungerWoman’s Club. The clubs collected enough donations in one meeting to vaccinate five children for a lifetime, and they completed 56 advocacy actions to let Representative Hal Rogers, Senator Rand Paul, and Senator Mitch McConnell know that they support funding for global vaccine access. Those three clubs are a testament to the collective impact that a group of individuals can have when devoted to a common cause. 

Robert F. Kennedy said, “Let no one be discouraged by the belief there is nothing one person can do against the enormous array of the world's ills, misery, ignorance, and violence. Few will have the greatness to bend history, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. And in the total of all those acts will be written the history of a generation.” Rose worked to improve education in an area overrun with poverty, and that would be her legacy. What will be this generation’s legacy, and what will your legacy be?

Sunday, March 16, 2014

A #DisneySide Birthday Celebration

My son Gabriel recently celebrated his 4th birthday with a #DisneySide themed birthday party. We love all things Disney, and we were so excited when we chosen to host a DisneySide at home celebration through MomSelect. 

Just like all great parties we started with #DisneySide invitations. I played around in Photoshop Elements with digital papers and cutouts until I found a layout that I liked. The red and white chevron, combined with the black and yellow added to our Mickey Mouse themed event.  

Included in our #DisneySide party kit was some HP  photo paper which was great for printing the invitations that I decided to hand deliver.  

I used the Mickey shaped cookie cutters to cut fondant and just applied them to the side of my chocolate layer cake.

His cake was definitely made with lots of love

He received a birthday "crown" at preschool that he loved, so I  decided to #DisneySide it with ears.

Basic black gift bags that I created using construction paper cut Mickey ears, red pants, and white buttons.  I added ears to all of the plain paper party hats.  They made for a festive touch. 

Mickey napkins are available in the party section of your local Walmart

I picked up the red and white paper straws at Hobby Lobby

My son loved the Ocean Spray Craisins included in our #DisneySide kit

I created a #DisneySide paper banner to hang on the food table. We had a mixture of homemade and premade food items. I didn't want to spent so much time on food that I couldn't enjoy the fun. 
I saw a few ideas on Pinterest for #DisneySide photo booth props.  I visited the craft section at Hobby Lobby and created this fun "polaroid" frame. I think it took maybe an hour total, but it was tons of fun for guests. 

I used Photoshop Elements to create this cool chalkboard printable to display at the party. 

I tried not to go over the top, I wanted it to be a fun party for family and friend.  You can get lost finding ideas over on Pinterest, so I chose a few of my favorites.  I have a board with lots of creative ideas to help show your #DisneySide if you want to check them out here. Birthday parties aren't the only reason to show your #DisneySide, you can celebrate your #DisneySide every day.

For ideas on how to show off your #DisneySide you can visit:
DisneySide Celebrations

Disclaimer: I received a #DisneySide at home celebration kit for my participation in the program.  All opinions in this post are entirely my own. 

I hope our #DisneySide is apparent in this post, and maybe you found a little Pinspiration! 

Gabe and I with Mickey Mouse last year after I finished the Disney Princess Half Marathon at Disney World. 

Happy Sunday,

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Freshly MINTED: Save the Date and Wedding Invitations

I got engaged just before Valentine's Day.  It was a sweet little proposal, which will result in a large Southern wedding.  I had so many decisions that needed to be made quickly. We had to choose a date, and our wedding party. I spent hours researching reviews on photographers and caterers. I have not even started my search for the perfect dress. There are so many things to stress over when planning a wedding, but invitations shouldn't be one of them.  Minted can help make finding, printing, and even addressing your save the date and wedding invitations easy. 

Photo Credit: Minted

A tradition in recent years is to send Save The Date invitations.  These are generally sent as soon as a wedding date is set, and can include a location if decided.  Save The Date cards allow guests to mark their calendars for your important day months in advance. Minted has over 700 options to choose from, and orders typically ship within 2 weeks.  

Minted isn't your plain jane wedding invitation; They have thick luxurious papers, options for backing, envelope liners, and label seals. The wrap around seals with return address are functional and stylish. Minted has options that allow most invitations to be semi-customizable.  Don't like the shape of an invitation? There are die cut options which allow you to customize the silhouette. Is your favorite invitation in the wrong color palette?  You have the option to make color adjustments on most invitation selections.  

Photo Credits: Minted
These are a few of my favorites, but I won't spoil it for my guests by telling which I have chosen. There were so many gorgeous and unique invitations to choose from. Minted uses independent designers from all over the globe to design their invitations, stationery, and paperie.

I like the retro appeal of this invitation.  

Vintage Blush

Maybe caption this one as "All roads lead to your heart."

The Wedding Sign Says 

Wouldn't this be great for an evening wedding? Who doesn't love catching fireflies?


This is perfect for the couple who loves to travel, who is planning a destination wedding, or those like Jeremy and I, who have spent a large sum of their relationship commuting.  

Isn't this different? It is unique and you have an option to add a photo to the back.

Blessed Union

Minted is now offering a free address assistant with most orders, with the exclusion of Holiday Postcards and Save The Date Postcards.  I hate hand addressing envelopes, and I constantly worry about my penmanship. You can upload the addresses, and even select font style.  The invitations are shipped with addresses printed, you just add postage and drop in the mail.  

If you aren't on the market for Save The Date cards or Wedding Invitations, Minted offers many other invitation and printing options.

  • Birth Announcements
  • Baby Show Invitations
  • Holiday Cards
  • Stationery
  • Gift Wrap
  • Journals 
  • Calendars
  • Party Decor
  • Art Prints 
If you have free time, take a few minutes and browse around Minted. I can almost guarantee you will find something that strikes your fancy.

Disclaimer: I did receive an incentive for this blog post, but all thoughts, comments, and suggestions on the product is entirely my own.  Special thanks to Minted for giving me this opportunity.

Happy Sweet Sunday,