Thursday, December 25, 2008

A quick weigh-in

This morning I am down 0.2 pounds. As silly as it sounds, I am thrilled to be still moving in the minus direction.

I did not acheive all of my goals - my Christmas cards are still on my desk. I did not go to the post office the other day because my oldest woke up with strep throat. I knew it was strep throat the minute I saw it (and smelled it - strep has a really different smell, not just bad breath smell, but infection smell). However, our family doctor was insistant that I take Joshua to the ER for a spinal tap to rule out meningitis. Hmmmm....yeah....I'll be right on that. Knowing that Joshua had ZERO sings of meningitis, I took him to the ER to ask a second opinion. I have to admit I was completely disgruntled because it is a waste of medical funds to diagnose strep in the ER. I can almost see where our doc was getting the meningitis from, since Joshua's neck was so sore he couldn't hold his head straight. But, the doc didn't palpate the gigantic lymph nodes under Joshua's arms or along his neck, nor did he inspect his throat as good as I would have liked.

The good news is that I will be starting a full time job after the holidays are over. I will have different insurance for the kids and will be able to pick a doc based on good reputation, not based on being assigned by the crummy insurance we have now.

Have a Merry Christmas, everyone.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Wooo hooo for weight loss and some new challenges

I'm down a whopping 0.8 pounds. But, that's a step in the right direction and I am happy for it.

I'm also admitting that I have become a mulitple times a day weigher. Seriously, every time I walk into my bathroom, I jump on the scale. Not only do I weigh myself (after I've used the bathroom of course, in case the urine in my thimble sized bladder somehow weighs over an ounce or two), but I try to guesstimate how heavy my clothes are that day. I know, seriously, I sound like a nut. So, recognizing this obsessive and unhealthy behavior, I am putting away my scale until next Thursday. Instead, I'm going to put my obsessive behavior into achieving some goals.

My challenges between this Thursday and next Thursday (Christmas Day) are:

* actually finish mailing out the Christmas cards before Christmas Day
* give myself a pedicure - my toes need some lovin' before Christmas Day
* move-it, move-it for at least 60 minutes a day for today and the next 7 days
* spend 8 hours organizing the house (we still have some areas in unpack mode)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Observations from my couch - or why I may cancel cable

The past week or so I've spent way too much time cuddled under a blanket on the couch. I've allowed my kids to watch way too much TV, and even had my 6 year old pour cereal and milk one night for dinner for the other kids. Now that I'm feeling better, I'm feeling a little television overload. I'm not even sure if it's just the television, perhaps it's the media in general.

I'm tired of hearing about how bad the economy is. Quite frankly, I don't really have concerns about my long-term retirement accounts. I have about 40 years before I'll seriously consider retiring, and I've been alive long enough to understand that our economy works in cycles. That's right, I plan on working into my 70's - I strongly feel as though nursing needs long-term nurses. My thought process with that is that I feel as though nurses that have survived change (current changes being related to increases in technology, local and national government changes related to nursing and population fluctuations), are more likely to help ease the field through the big changes that are still to come. And not to make nursing bigger than it is, but it is the backbone of health care in our country, especially as we begin to see the importance of primary (commonly known as preventative) care. But I digress. So back to the economy - in my little world my husband's job is stable for now - all the things I hate about the military all of a sudden become not so bad when it means I have a roof over my head and food to feed my kids. I am aware that there are other people struggling, and I wish I knew how to fix the problem. But when I turn on the radio or TV or read the paper and constantly hear about how bad things are, it is really overwhelming to me. I start to have anxieties that aren't even relevant to my situation. I almost feel as though I am getting too sensitive to the doom-and-gloom reporting of our country's situation. I'd love to hear more stories about all the people that are giving. We've had some great programs at our church lately, and my son's kindergarten class secretly raised over $200 for his teacher's Christmas gift this year - the money is going for a donation to her daughter's senior class mission trip. Did I mention that Joshua only has 15 other kids in his class - serious generosity at work here.

I caught a few episodes of Jon and Kate Plus Eight. I remember in the past seasons I really liked the show because I liked seeing her lists of stuff all over the house and her big calendar on her fridge. I loved how she occasionally lost her temper. I liked how they were real people struggling with parenting just like the rest of us. This past week, I was disappointed to see that the entire show has turned into a big advertisement for whatever destination resort has invited them to visit. I found myself thinking - man how does she have time to get her hair done with 8 kids at home? Or man, I'd love to hire someone to travel with me and the kids because Lord knows I could use the extra hands. I adored that the kids were all dressed in matching Baby Gap. I was jealous that she actually had the time/money/babysitter to go out on a date with her husband. Quite honestly, my covetous nature kicked in and the green giant in me started doubting myself and being envious that I'm not able to take the kids skiing in brand new clothes after just returning from my trip to Hawaii renewing my wedding vows in a designer gown while my children rolled on the lawn misbehaving. :)

It's funny, I'm really cautious about advertisements for the kids. I don't like the kids being commercially marketed to. Instead of watching Charlie Brown's Christmas Special on TV with all the commercials, I Netflixed it to watch with popcorn minus the commercials. I don't let them watch Noggin, because just about all the shows have become gigantic commercials for the lines of toys that accompany the shows. Not to mention I roll my eyes every time I hear that Noggin is like preschool on TV. Really? Where is the interaction with their peers, direction by an adult, learning about the world around them using all of their senses? Oh dear, this soap box is getting mighty high, I better step off. :)

But funny how I am so worried about over commercializing my kids (as I fully admit that Daniel is wearing an adorable Cookie Monster hand-me-down sweatshirt today, and my mom has bought them more princess, Dora/Diego and Star Wars stuff than the kids ever even knew existed, for Christmas), but yet didn't realize how marketed-to moms are. Lesson learned, the peer pressure for moms is brutal on TV, magazines at the check-out, and a million other places. Nothing like feeling miserable on the couch looking at size zero Kelly Rippa to make me think that it's possible that more moms secretly have self esteem issues and eating disorders than teenage girls, I think we are just more secretive about it, because we are all supposed to be perfect alpha moms.

Maybe it's just my cold-medicine induced hangover, but I'm feeling foolish for feeling the way I do...inadequate.

Monday, December 15, 2008

A touch of the flu

Just a little funny - after talking to my doctor again this week, we both had a good giggle.

I had remarked that I hadn't been this ill and achey in a long time and I'm definitely not breastfeeding anyone anymore, but I swear I feel like I have mastitis.

We both had a good chuckle.

For those that don't know mastitis is often presented with flu like symptoms. I'm so tired and so overwhelmed with being mommy and being sick/tired/exhausted/aching that I couldn't even fathom having the flu.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Weekly Weigh-in

Today, I am down 1.6 pounds from last week - for a current weight of 147.4.

Which, honestly, I'm pretty surprised at the rate I've been downing soup. I'm sure all this sodium can't be good for me. I haven't been this sick in a long time.

I had THREE job interviews today. So I muscled through it with the help of some cold medicine, cough drops and soup for lunch between the 2nd and 3rd interview. My head hurts so bad now, and I'd love to go to bed for the night, but alas, the sometimes single mom thing means that I have 3 little darlings to take care of tonight.

The interviews went very well and now I'm afraid I have to make a decision between the two jobs.

I see I also won a Blog Award, I'll need to check that out tonight.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

I'm still around...

Get it...a ROUND? ha, ha, ha....maybe it's the cold medicine, but I crack myself up.

I'm very rarely sick, but somehow the equation of lack of sleep + increased stress + snotty nose kids = mom with a really yucky cold.

So, I wish I could blog about wonderful food I've been eating, but it really hasn't been the case. I will confess that I had some excellent vegetarian black bean soup at Panara Bread last night.

I'm hoping to increase my water consumption over the next day or two. I've been doing alot of sleeping, so I haven't been drinking well.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Wow, today's weigh-in is an even 149 lbs.

For the next 7 days, I'm going to record every single thing I eat and track it on to see what my ratio of carbs to calories is. While I'm not a fan of no-carb diets, I am an apple shape and therefore most of my carbs (healthy or not) hang out in my mid section. Can you say mashed potatoes, stuffing, pie crust?

I also had to break down yesterday and buy 3 lb weights for my 30-Day Shred workout video. I found I was putting off doing the video because of the intense pain after the work out. A good burn is great, but when pain interferes with my activities of daily life, it's time to wave the white flad and say I'm worth getting fit, but not getting hurt.

I'm saddened by my weight gain. But I am comforted in knowing that I continue to try.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Standing in the Gap

I strongly believe that the Lord calls on us to "stand in the gap" for each other. In Ezekiel 22:30-31, the Bible says Because the Lord God did not find anyone to "stand in the gap," to intercede for the land, He was requited to pour out the judgment due its disobedience.

For me, to stand in the gap means to intercede on behalf of someone else. This person might be too broken down to express their needs or too hurt to be able to sort out their feelings. To intercede in prayer is for me to pray for someone else. I think God calls on us to pray for each other, speaking on behalf of each other, carrying each others' heavy burdens and rejoicing with each other.

As the new year rolls around in a few weeks, I am adding a new challenge to my prayer life. I am taking the addresses from each of the return envelopes of the rapidly-growing pile of Christmas cards on my desk and putting them in a special place. Each week, I plan to pull an address and stand in the gap for that family. I may not know what specifically is going on for each family, however I can still praise the Lord on their behalf while they weather their own storm. I can also speak on their behalf to the Lord of the harvest to use their family for the plans that He has already planned for them.

If you have sent us a Christmas card this year, you can expect to open your mailbox on any given day to a note from our family letting you know that we have been praying for you and your family. If you are interested in sending a Christmas card our way - please let me know in the comments section - if you leave me your email address, I can send you our house address.

Monday, December 1, 2008

It works for Oprah!

I can't really say that I'm an avid watcher of the Oprah Winfrey show. However, I check out her site all the time because she's always got some great ideas and discounts for the super-cheap like myself. Every once in a while, Oprah does a show based on her favorite things. I've seen it go from something simple like 90 calorie frozen fudgepops to $200 pairs of shoes. I think her entire studio audience gets to take home everything featured on the show. Well, I'm not giving away my favorite things (remember, I just admitted to being super-cheap!). But I am going to make a post every once in a while of my favorite things that allow me to cheat a bit on dinner. You know, those nights where it would be soooo easy to order a pizza because we've been on the go non-stop all day? I try to keep a small arsenal of healthy-ish fast-ish food in my freezer for those days when I have exactly 4.2 minutes to put dinner on the table or someone is going to fall apart. My MIL turned me on to these sweet potato fries. While I have to admit, I like fresh sweet potatoes sliced and baked just a tad bit more than these, it's the time saving factor that makes me like these bagged sweet potatoes. While these are baking, I have time to warm up some Stakelets (vegetarian steaks - very yummy!), boil some corn on the cob and chop a salad. Sure, it takes a little more than that 4.2 minutes allotted by the irritable, hungry children, but it's worth it.

I'm sure there are those that would read this and comment that it really doesn't take that much longer to peel and chop fresh sweet potatoes. And I will take this time to remind you all that this blog is about my own personal growth. That just a month or two ago, I probably would not have given a second thought to finding something healthy for dinner. I probably would have had the phone propped to my ear (battling over insurance coverage for hospital bills, finishing up things from our move, searching for a name it, we all have our things that start as a 5 minute task and then end up sucking up 30 or so minutes of precious dinner prep time), and tossed some hot dogs in the microwave, and tater tots in the oven, or worse, opened a bag of chips to go with them - just in case we hadn't gotten our weekly quota for sodium all in one day.

I'm all about being the best mom any of us can be, whatever that means to you. So for me, being the best mom I can be last week on Thanksgiving meant that I was able to forgive myself for using store bought cranberry sauce just as easily as I was able to have no regrets over the 40 minutes I spent that morning helping my 6 year old create an amazing rocket out of legos. My life is about creating balance. I wish I was that 100% from scratch mom, but for where I'm at today, that's not me. Maybe in a year or two, as I grow in this journey and learn to use my time wiser (than, say, wasting time blogging about my poor time management in the kitchen!). So here is the start of a new segment of things I will label as My Favorite Things. They are my time and sanity savers.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Not-your-Grandma's Deviled Eggs

My husband requested deviled eggs as part of our Thanksgiving meal. I always thought deviled eggs were more of an Easter thing, but they are easy to make, so I threw some together.

12 hard boiled eggs
4 oz of Neufchatel cheese
3 Tbsp mayo
2 tsp dijon mustard
2 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp paprika

1. Cut eggs in half lengthwise. Remove yolks; place in medium bowl. Add cheese, mayo, mustard, vinegar and sugar. Mix until well blended (I whip in stand mixer).

2. Spoon mixture into large resealable plastic bag. Snip a small opening in one of the lower corners of the bag.

3. Use the bag to pipe the filling into the egg whites. Sprinkle with paprika.

Super yummy. The kids just can't get enough of these. I usually end up making two dozen at a time.

$100 Cranberry Apricot Pie

Okay, so this pie doesn't cost $100 to make. But I did make it for a fund raiser for the Christian School in Kodiak, Alaska, where it was sold on auction for a winning bid of $95. Yes indeed, it was one of the highest priced deserts that night. Funny thing is that I donated the same pie to another auction the following weekend, and the same family won the pie again, this time for around $70. It really is that good!

1 double pie crust
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp corn starch
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp salt
3 (16 oz) cans of apricots - drained, sliced
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 egg white
1 Tbsp milk
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1. Roll pie crust out in pie plate.

2. Combine sugar, corn starch, 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice, salt in mixing bowl. Add apricots and cranberries, stir to combine. Pour into pie crusted pie plate.

3. Roll out top crust. Paint 1/2 crust with egg white mixed with milk, brush the other half of the crust with the remaining sugar mixed with pumpkin pie spice. Use mini-cookie cutters to cut shapes out of both sides of pie crust.

4. Brush edge of bottom pie crust with egg white mixture to act as a glue for dough shapes. Alternate egg white painted shapes with pumpkin pie spice/sugar sprinkled shapes around the pie crust. Decorate center of pie with any remaining shapes.

5. Bake at 375 for 50 minutes.

This is my husband's favorite pie. Ever.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Banana Nut Muffins

2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt
3 c. flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
6 large mashed bananas
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
2/3 c. melted butter
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix all wet ingredients. Mix all dry ingredients. Mix both mixtures together. Really, it's that easy.
3. Bake for 25 minutes.
Makes 48 mini muffins.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Blackberry Coffee Cake

Grandpa got back in town on Sunday night bearing gifts of fruit. He brought back a big container of blackberries and tells me they were sent with love from Aunt Oida in Atlanta, Georgia. This morning for breakfast, I stirred the blackberries with strawberries in some vanilla yogurt and granola. The kids were thrilled. But I still had a small mountain of blackberries to use.


2 c. flour
1 c. sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. chopped pecans
2 eggs
1 c. milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. flour
2 tsp. butter

1. Sift together first five ingredients, and put in large mixing bowl; cut in butter until mixture looks crumbly.

2. In another bowl, mix together eggs, milk and vanilla, pour over flour mixture and stir until just moistened.

3. Spread in greased baking dish (I used an 8x8 square dish), top with berries.

4. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, flour and 2 tsp butter, mix with fork until crumbly. Add nuts to mixture. Sprinkle on top of cake.

5. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

*Important to note here, I accidentally used bread flour instead of all-purpose flour. I still thought the cake came out fantastic and probably would use bread flour again in the future - it was nice and light, not a heavy/gluey cake, but more of a light cake.

30 Day Shred and other stuff

I'm hopping the bandwagon filled with fabulous women I know that are all doing the 30 day shred workout by Jillian Michaels. I purchased the DVD yesterday after my "woe is me" moment of being angry at the world. With the help of some great comments both here and a Coast Guard spouses message board, I realized a few things...

Most importantly, the blessing to see in my possibly husbandless Thanksgiving is that after all we've been through the past many months, I actually care enough to be upset that he's not going to be here. That might not make much sense to many other people that haven't been to that scary place that we once were at. Clarissa's comment really brought that to my attention, so thank you, Clarissa for clarifying that very important point.

Another issue is that I deserve to treat myself better. I really fell into some unhealthy habits when Keith got sick. I was eating hospital food for weeks at a time which meant things like spaghetti or grilled cheese and french fries. Mostly because by the time I would feel comfortable leaving Keith's bedside, he would be asleep and the healthier options in the hospital cafeteria would be already closed down for the night. I'm sure if the kids were with me at the hospital, I would have worked harder to find better meals, but when it's just me, I tend to be fine with a granola bar and coffee. And by eating very little all day, meant I was so ravenous by the evenings, that I ate really bad things and lots of them.

Anyway, while picking up a few Christmas presents at Target yesterday, I realized I had a some money left in the budget to buy the 30 Day Shred. Funny how I was thinking the same thing that Amber posted on her blog - there's about 30 days between now and Christmas, I'm going to start the workout now and my Christmas gift will be the results. Surprisingly, even though I am rather vain and would like to stop tucking my belly into my pants and watching my arms flapping in the breeze when I play basketball with my oldest. The real present is actually taking the time to do the work out. Will I actually be able to block out the crazy world that is my house every other day for 30 minutes to spend some time on myself? Gosh, I almost feel guilty, but then I remember how worth it I am.

And I did try the workout today. I think I maybe completed 2/3 of the first 20 minute workout, because I did have to stop to rest. A big thank you to everyone who recommended it. I really like the different style of this work out.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Put down the Oreos

Let me start by saying that I don't ordinarily buy Oreo cookies. I purchased them to crush for the base of a dessert that I was making, and so I had some left over in the pantry. Usually such delectable things don't cross our thresh hold.

I'm just having one of those days that I could stand in front of the pantry and eat, eat, eat to try to feel better. Hubby was supposed to be on medical leave until December 1st. However, he got a call today from the base telling him that he's basically had enough time to heal and that he needs to report back to work on Wednesday. That would be the day before Thanksgiving. While I do agree that he's probably in okay shape to return to some working conditions, I think the timing of it pretty much sucks. I mean, really, if one of the base docs writes for him to be home until Dec 1st and that time includes a traditionally big family holiday, wouldn't you think we'd make plans as a family? So Wednesday the hubby has an appointment on base to get his "going back to work paperwork" squared away by a different doctor than that one that has been following him.

I guess I'm just bothered that we made plans actually following the rules. I actually allowed myself to get excited that we were going to spend Thanksgiving together as a family. This was/is important to me. We just bought our "forever" house, we are finally near extended family and we are finally functioning as a normal family unit after our dang-near divorce last winter. It's kindof like the first big holiday in our new not-falling-apart life. I let myself get excited about the holiday and I got let down big-time. Usually how the holidays work is that I don't get excited. I adapt a mindset of "if he's here, then he's here". But this year it was in the bag - he had the paperwork that said he was going to be here and we had made plans to cook together, do crafts with the kids together, go for a family guessed it...together.

I'm also bothered that there is now a new doctor in the mix of this medical mess. Really? Do we need one more person trying to get involved in this? I realize that his case is pretty cool and that there are a lot of higher ranking people going out of their way to help us probably because they, too, get a little recognition for their efforts. Not to sound too cynical, because we have gotten quite a bit of genuine help, too. But I can't help but wonder why someone who has not been a part of this medical case in the 5 months that it's been going on, is all of a sudden trying to take charge.

I applied for a job that I was pretty excited about. Except for the hubby, I didn't tell anyone about it. Today, a human resource person called me to let me know that she thinks the job is being filled but that she is passing my resume and cover letter along because I am a great fit for the job. Yeah, I know I'm a great fit for the job, but it doesn't do any good if the job is filled. *sigh* I'm feeling really grumpy.

I did stand in front of the pantry and eat 3 Oreos before I made dinner. I put them away because it's not worth undoing everything that I'm working so hard to do. Plus, I'd rather save my points for the wine I'm sure I'll be drinking tonight after the kids go to bed.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Sweet Potatoe Casserole

I didn't get a picture because I was running out the door! If I take pictures again on Thanksgiving you'll get a delicious peek at this yummy southern dish.

I calculated this dish at 5 points for 1/2 cup serving size. And that's when I decided that it really will be okay if I just forget about WW for one day. Since I mostly eat good anyway, it's more the exercise portion that I really need to emphasize and I plan to try to sneak more exercise in this week surrounding the food frenzy (er, I mean Thanksgiving holiday).

6 med sweet potatoes
1 c. white sugar
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. melted butter
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
2 eggs beaten
1/2 tsp salt

1 c. packed dk brown sugar
1/3 c. all purpose flour
1/3 c. melted butter
1 c. chopped pecans

1. Cover sweet potatoes with one inch water. Boil for 20 minutes, drain, allow to cool, remove skins.

2. Preheat oven to 350. Grease 2 quart dish.

3. Place potatoes in mixer (I *heart* my mixer!), beat on low until potatoes begin to break up. Increase speed to medium high and mix until smooth.

4. Reduce speed to low, add sugar, milk, butter, vanilla, eggs and salt. Mix well.

5. Pour into casserole dish.

6. Prepare topping in a small bowl - I usually double the ingredients and make lots of topping. I also like to use the butter cold and chopped into cubes and cut into the flour mixture to make a crumbly topping that I can sprinkle over the sweet potatoes.

Bake for 40 minutes.

It is not Thanksgiving for my husband unless we serve this dish. I'm not sure how close to his mother's recipe this dish is, but it's definately delicious!

Spinach Balls

2 (10 oz) packages of frozen chopped spinach
2 cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup parmesean cheese
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
4 eggs lightly beaten
salt/pepper to taste

1. Cook and squeeze all the liquid out of the spinach.

2. Mix all the ingredients together.

3. Shape into small balls. Bake 350 for 20 minutes or until lightly brown.

I brought these to HUGS - the mom and infant group I help facilitate with at our church on Thursdays. Everyone loved them. They are also great dipped in some ranch. I would probably serve them with a dip cup full of ranch and some other veggies on a veggie tray in the future for parties. I'll bet they'd look great with some nice cherry tomatoes for a red and green Christmas look.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Weighing in for real

Well, my weight is exactly the same at 145.4 lbs. However, according to the gym measurements, my percentage of body fat has dropped 0.3 % in the past few weeks. I'm pleased with that.

Completely not relevant, but still makes me feel good....I bought some new jeans at Kohl's the other day. After trying on a million pairs of jeans, I picked two pairs that are both very flattering. Depending on the style, one is a 6 and the other is an 8. Yesterday on a school field trip, I caught one of the mom's checking out my butt. We both had a good laugh and she wanted to know who made my jeans.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Weigh-in Wednesday

I forgot to weigh-in this morning with all the hustle and bustle to get out the door for a field trip. I'm afraid to weigh in now because it's the afternoon and I'm obsessive about weighing in at the same time of the day. I'll hop on the scale first thing in the morning.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sweet and Sour Turkey Meatballs

With all the cranberry sauce sales cropping up for Thanksgiving, this week presented the perfect time to make some sweet and sour turkey meatballs. This is often my pot luck go-to dish because it is so easy and so yummy!


1 pound ground turkey breast
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
2 Tbsp minced onion
1 egg

1/3 c. Ketchup
1/4 c. chili sauce
1 - 16 oz. can jellied cranberry sauce

1. In a large bowl, combine turkey, bread crumbs, parsley, onion and egg. Mix well and shape mixture into 24 meatballs. Set aside.

2. In crockpot, combine cranberry sauce, ketchup and chili-sauce. Mix well. Gently stir in meatballs. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours.

Great over brown rice with some steamed veggies. Everyone in my family loves these. Infact, I have to double the recipe because the kids love taking the leftovers to school the next day.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Shhhh....a confession!

I went to lunch at my mother-in-law's house as usual this Saturday. She is a great cook. However, for dessert she baked peach cobbler. I had never had peach cobbler before. Here's my confession....I hated it. I don't like canned peaches and I don't like doughy stuff - it was like not-quite cooked bread with syrupy peaches mixed in. Is that peach cobbler? If so, it's pretty yucky.

This ordinarily wouldn't be an issue, however, my husband was born and raised in Georgia and LOVES peach cobbler. It nearly killed him a few weeks ago when I was cheering for the Florida Gators instead of the Georgia Bulldogs (and the Gators won!). I'm afraid my peach cobbler confession would send us straight to marriage counseling without passing Go or collecting $200.

*sigh* Give me a fruit crisp any day. Maybe it's texture related - I'm a crunchy girl.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Roasting Pumpkins

Earlier this week, I roasted 3 small pumpkins and ended up with 5 cups of pumpkin for my freezer. I also roasted all of the pumpkin seeds - 1/2 of the seeds were dusted with cinnamon sugar and the other 1/2 of the seeds were dusted with kosher salt. I much preferred the salty seeds to the sweet ones.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wednesday Weigh-in

Drum roll, please.....

Down 1.2 pounds to 145.4

It was an okay week. I had pizza at my nephew's birthday party this weekend, and washed it down with a piece of cake followed by 16 oz of Coke.

We also ordered pizza one night this week, and I only had one slice with a big salad.

We went to Subway last night for Hubby and Grandpa's free subs in honor of Veteran's Day - I had a turkey 6 inch sub with real mayo and a ton of veggies, Doritos and a Dr. Pepper.

I just found out we are having a HUGE family reunion the last week of December/first week of January. I really want to be feeling better about my body by then.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Quick easy meal

I haven't really committed to a scheduled menu this week (or last week!). Tonight, I boiled up two boxes of Fettuccine Alfredo and added two bunches of broccoli during the last few minutes. Served with a salad made up of bagged organic baby greens, walnuts, chopped apples and a few stray blueberries.

Ideally, I would have the time to make my own alfredo sauce and cover whole wheat pasta with it. However, today I was busy playing an alphabet game with one of the kids and dinner just snuck up on me. Times like these make the convenience foods that I acquire on sale worth hanging onto to. I'd rather take something partially unhealthy and make it better, than drive through for fast food.

Everyone cleared their plates - including huge helpings of salad for everyone.

Orange Smoothies

I bought some oranges on Friday. However, today when I peeled into one, it just didn't have any flavor to it. I didn't want to just toss out the other 5 oranges, so I pulled out this Orange Ice Smoothie mix that had been in the pantry.

Overall, the dull oranges didn't improve once they were added to the mix. I ended up tossing the rest of the oranges into the garbage disposal. Bummer.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Grocery Budget Thoughts

Tonight while I was blog-surfing, I came across Laura's post over at The Peanut Patch discussing her food budget. After reading Laura's post, I realized that she verbalized many of the same thoughts I've been having this past month. As times are tight for everyone I know and holidays are just around the corner, my family is looking for more ways to stretch our monthly budget. (I'll be blogging about our Christmas budget soon.)

When we only had one child, we were organic everything - meats, fruits, veggies, milk, you name it! We were also two working professionals bringing in a pretty healthy income. Fast forward to now - more kids, less income. Yikes! And these kids are getting older which means more activities which all seem to have hidden costs - other kids' birthday parties, play dates, etc. What it comes down to is that I need to feed my family of 5 in the most cost effective way possible, and perhaps that means exploring some different grocery techniques.

I followed this blog for a week or two before I developed the courage to dive into the coupon world. Sarah at Fiddledeedee really broke it down for me in a way that I could make the most of my couponing and in the process become a savvy CVS shopper. Even my CVS clerk is impressed.

There are many, many blogs about CVS savings. With more CVS stores carrying food items, I've been able to score great deals on different broths, soups, cereals and other staples.

I've also become very familiar with my grocery store of choice (Publix), I don't need to wander around willy-nilly looking for things, tempting myself with impulse purchases. I like to make the most of my time in the grocery store. Our Publix also takes competitive coupons. I get weekly competitive coupons from other grocery stores, and I bring them with me to my Publix store.
I use a baseball card organizer to hold my coupons. This allows me to flip through them quickly while reading the grocery flier, and pull out anything that I'll be using.

I only cut coupons for items that we'll actually use. No fruit roll-ups, or other things of that nature. We aren't really convenience foods type folks. We don't eat much meat. We do eat alot of beans and meat alternatives. I do pack lunches for both big kids 5 days a week for school. After I've made my grocery list (using the store flier), I use that list to guide my menu for the week. So if pasta is on sale, we'll have a spaghetti night. If beans are also on sale, I'll add a couple of cans of tomatoes to my list (or check my pantry to see if I got any extra during the last sale!) and add black bean soup to my menu.
Overall, I spend between $100 and $120 a week on our grocery budget. Add in about $10 a week on CVS deals.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Darn you PMS!!!

Today's weight is 146.6 lbs. Are you noticing a pattern? Did I mistakenly purchase a scale that only moves in the wrong direction? *Hanging my head in defeat*

However, I will say that I am due to start my period any second now. Seriously, my back is killing me and that's where all my cramps are, thanks to my weirdly positioned uterus. I know I am holding onto some water because my wedding band is wicked tight and usually I can wiggle it up and down my finger (I do this alot when I am nervous or pondering something).

On an upside, my muffin-top is looking smaller. And I'm having a great hair day. :) And hubby bought a Wi-fit yesterday so I'll add that into my routine. I'll post more on my exercise routine later. We've got to get out the door to another doctor's appointment for the hubby.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Pumpkin Crockpot Overnight Oatmeal

I'm trying to work more breakfast options into my routine. Up until recently, I had been in a bagel with cream cheese rut. Ummm, yeah, that's high on points and low on nutrition. In my search, I found a recipe for oatmeal that cooks while I'm sleeping.

1 c. steel cut oats
4 c. water
1/2 c. pumpkin puree
1/4 c. brown sugar
4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Dump it all into the crockpot, stir together, turn on low. Let cook overnight. Wake up to yummy goodness. This is 4 points per cup. I had a 1/2 cup (2 points) and an apple for breakfast. Very, very filling.

The kids loved it with a tiny bit of half-and-half mixed in to cool it down.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

It's all about the numbers

I got an email asking me what the number in parenthesis in my label section of my posted recipe refers to. Well, folks, it's the certain value that my serving size is worth - for those of you fellow number-crunchers doing the Weight Watchers plan. These days I'm allowed to eat 22 points a day, and if stretched out enough, it ends up working out fine. As soon as I loose track of my good eating habits, my whole day can easily be shot. An example would be earlier this past week when my father-in-law returned from a business trip and invited me out to breakfast. It was spontaneous and I ordered what appeared to be a healthy fruit/organic yogurt/homemade granola meal - well after checking, I realized I had eaten 16 of my daily points in just one meal. I had the wiggle room with all the activity points I earn per day, as well as my weekly flex points, so it all worked out in the end.

Why am I doing WW? Well, for me it's a no-brainer. I thought I knew how to eat good. I thought I was making great choices. Turns out I wasn't. So for me, WW is giving me so much education and freedom to choose what I eat based on what my goals are. Today, I know I'm supporting my son's school fall festival by working the bouncy house. I could pack a healthy lunch - or I could purchase a hotdog/drink/fruit meal for $5. I'm going to purchase the meal and I've already calculated the points and I'm going to be sure to get a few activity points in before we leave for the day, not to mention the activity points I'll earn when I'm there (I love my pedometer!!). WW has helped me to learn the balance between exercise and food portions. Eventually, I'll go off the program and do it myself, but for now, I need "big brother" coaxing me along.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Trick-or-treat memories

My husband took the kids trick or treating a few streets over in his parent's neighborhood. Most of the people that live in that neighborhood have lived there for 30 years and saw my husband grow up. It brought them so much pleasure to see my husband bringing our kids around. There were quite a few neighbors that made up special goodie bags for our kids - some of them included healthier items like trail mix, and even a few dollar bills. One neighbor had a table set up with drinks set out in their driveway and was giving bottled water to the grown ups and juice boxes to the kids. When the kids arrived back home to our neighborhood they were thrilled with their experience. We did ring a few doorbells on our end of the neighborhood.

Even though there were countless "alternative to trick-or-treating" activities, I still like the magic of neighborhood trick-or-treating. I find it to be a little on the silly side for churchs to hold "trunk or treats" where kids walk around cars that have trunks open and pick up candy. I think it takes all the work out of it. My kids walked over 2 miles last night - laughing and shining their flashlights all the way. We also got to meet many of our neighbors.

I think next year, I might encourage some of the neighbors on my end of the street to hang out with me in the driveway with the firepit and some healthy snacks. I'd love to see Halloween for my kids be like it was for me and my sisters when we were growing up. I don't remember being out for hours collecting a ton of candy. I do remember all of our neighbors being outside and laughing our way from house to house coming home with a few trinkets, some candy and a full UNICEF box.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wednesday Weigh-In

Today I am 145. That's up from last week.

I also followed up with my doctor today and he tells me every one of my labs came back fine, except for my B12 - which explains why I'm feeling low in the energy department. So now I have a honking huge mulitivitamin to take that will hopefully give me superpowers.


1 cup onion
1 tsp olive oil
2 bags Morning Star Farms crumbles
1 Jar pasta sauce
3 cans Bush's chili beans
2 cans light kidney beans
1 large can diced tomatoes (could use fresh, but I got overzealous and used them all in the salad!)

Carol Shelby spice packet

1. Brown onion in olive oil.

2. Add crumbles - warm/brown.

3. Add sauce, use jar to add 1/2 jar of water to pot, add all beans and tomatoes.

4. Mix in Carol Shelby spices - cover and simmer 30 minutes stirring occaisionally.

Serve with shredded cheese, tostito scoops, and sour cream.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Mashed Potato Soup

I didn't take a picture of the soup, but here is a picture of the soup-lover. The temperature was 42 degrees this morning at 4:50am during my 5 minute drive to the gym. The high in our area was about 65 today which felt sooooo cold. Joshua asked me to make some Mashed Potato Soup tonight for dinner, so that he could bring the leftovers to school tomorrow for his lunch.

2 med baked potatoes
3 tsp butter
1 c. chopped onion
2 tsp flour
4 c. chicken stock
2 c. water
1/4 c. corn starch
1 1/2 c. instant mashed potatoe flakes
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp basil
1/4 tsp thyme
1 c. half and half

1. Melt butter in large saucepan, saute onion until lightly brown.

2. Add the flour to make a roux.

3. Add stock, water, corn starch, instant mashed potato flakes and spices to the pot. Bring to boil, then turn down heat to simmer for 5 minutes.

4. Cut already baked potatoes in half, scoop out flesh. Add potato flesh and half/half to saucepan, bringing soup to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes.

Serve with bacon bits, chopped broccoli, shredded cheddar cheese and anything else that sounds good!!

Makes about 6-8 servings.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Rotini with Chicken Chunk Tomato Sauce

I love organic tomato products. I have some extended family members that think I'm crazy and that there is no difference between the $.99 store brand marinara sauce and a good organic pasta sauce. (Which is actually a big reason why my recipes, weight loss journey and other thoughts are posted over here separately from our regular family blog.) When I saw that our Publix had an unadvertised sale on Muir Glen tomato products and I had a handful of coupons for them, I stocked up yesterday at the store.

We had a spontaneous game-playing afternoon yesterday and while I did manage to get the groceries put away, the never-ending game of Disney Monopoly intruded on my menu planning time. So I threw together a pasta dish for dinner last night.

We only eat chicken maybe once a week because the Publix Greenwise chicken is pretty pricey. But for me it's worth the price to feed my family the best food possible. So I grabbed my newly purchased boneless, skinless chicken breasts, added them to a baking dish, covered them in the above can of tomatoes, covered that with aluminum foil loosely and baked it all for 45 minutes at 375 F. Towards the last few minutes, I boiled some water and added whole wheat rotini to the lightly salted water.

When the rotini was done, I drained it and plated it. Then I took two forks and shredded the chicken making the tomato sauce very thick. I added the sauce to the rotini and it was so delicious. Add a quick bag of steamed veggies and a couple of glasses of soy milk and voila...dinner is served!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Soda Fast

Carry each other's burdens and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

I often times feel as though I'm quick to listen to other people's difficulties and to offer a hug and an "I'll keep you in my prayers". While I do with a genuine heart intend to keep most people in my prayers, often times I pray at that very moment and then seem to forget about it. I want very much to follow up with people and ask them about their situation or let them know that I'm still thinking of them. Even more so, I feel as though there are people that are too shy or too proud to ask for prayers for their situation.

Add in my current addiction to soda. I got on a coffee kick while living in Alaska, and now that I am in Florida, it is just too hot for coffee. Iced coffee just isn't yummy. But, oh man, that combination of carbonated water, artificial caramel coloring, high fructose corn syrup and caffeine in my favorite soda has become quite an addiction. I've been depending on the caffeine to give me a little boost in the afternoon when I am feeling my sleepiest.

I read last week in my devotion book, The Official Soccer Mom Devotional by Lynne Thompson, about a mocha fast. Lynne talks about her addiction to coffee and that by giving up coffee, every time she would drive past a coffee drive-thru, she'd pray for her friend in need. I'm about 3 days into my soda fast. Everytime I start to get a hankerin' for a soda (and I'm usually a 2-a-day-er), I take a moment to clear my mind and say a few words of prayer for someone that I know is in need. Amazingly, as I walk to the fridge, I find myself thinking of people that might not have even asked me to pray for them, just other moms with young kids that I know could use a little boost.

Since I'm on day 3, the headaches have passed and I'm feeling better than I felt yesterday. At the job fair, they had a huge table of drinks set up. I was so proud of myself for grabbing a water instead of a soda. It was a small victory, but a good one.

I'm off to do my Sabbath cleaning and refill my Camelback BPA-free water bottle.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Candied Sweet Potatoes


4 medium sweet potatoes
1/4 c. packed brown sugar
3 Tbsp butter, melted
1 cup mini-marshmallows

1. Peel sweet potatoes, cut into 1 inch chunks. Boil for about 10 minutes. Drain.

2. Put sweet potatoes in baking dish, toss with butter and brown sugar.

3. Bake at 375 F for about 30 minutes.

4. Add marshmallows on top, bake for 5 more minutes.

Yummy! Everyone loved this. I actually used yams instead of sweet potatoes because I like the richer color. But aren't they practically the same?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins


3 eggs
1 3/4 c. sugar
2 c. grated zucchini
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 c. flour
3 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 c. chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place liners in muffin cups.

2. In stand mixer - combine eggs, oil, sugar, zucchini, and vanilla.

3. In medium bowl - combine everything else.

4. Add dry mix to zucchini mixture. Combining just until thoroughly mixed.

5. Put in muffin cups and bake for 20-25 minutes.

We have a 24 muffin cup tin. I filled that, and made a batch of mini-muffins from the same mix.

I popped about 4 of the mini muffins while standing in the kitchen unloading the dishwasher. They are so good.

My Wardrobe Malfunction

I put away my scale for an entire month, and then forgot about it. I started this blog last month on the 11th and I weighed 147 lbs. This morning I woke up and decided to reweigh myself to really buckle down and set some goals. Today I am 143.4 lbs. That's nearly a 4 pound weight loss in about 6 weeks (roughly rounding). I think I can do better. I need to do better.

Tomorrow I am going to a big job fair for a new tower of a local hospital. The hospital is basically doubling in size and is in dire need for staff. Here is where my wardrobe malfunction comes in...I can't seem to get any of my blouses to button and stay buttoned over my chest. I've come to realize that it's not an issue with my chest, but that my shoulders have somehow broadened. I'm sure it's my big arms. Uggghhhh...I'm just so disappointed that in May I bought quite a bit of new business casual clothes that all looked great on me, and now nothing fits. After trying on everything in my closet, I did find something to wear tomorrow, and if I think about it, I'll have the hubby snap a picture.

So with my wardrobe issue - here is my plan. When I hit 140 lbs - I'm going to get some caramel colored highlights for my hair. I love having brown hair, and it seems like every time I get highlights, I come back as a blonde. But I've been talking to my new hairdresser and he completely understands that I like being a brunette. When I hit the 135 mark - I'm going to splurge on a hour long deep tissue massage. When I hit 130 mark I'm going to go all out and really learn how to take care of my skin. When I return to 125 (my goal weight, remember I'm barely 5 ft 4in), I'm going to spend a certain amount of money on updating my wardrobe with some casual clothes. I'm good in the business casual, church, and scrubs section. But regular old talk the kids to the park/grocery shop/casual lunch out with friends type stuff, I need help in that department.

Which brings me to my current wardrobe. I noticed that I have a lot of Juniors clothes. I recently learned that ODD numbered clothing sizes are from the juniors department. Which is probably why not only are things a bit tight, but tight in all the wrong spots. Juniors don't have birthing hips. So on my birthday - January 23rd - I plan to try on every single article of clothing that I own and if it doesn't look fantastic and make me feel fantastic, it is out of here. Seriously, you should see some of the things in my possession right now. We just celebrated my youngest's 3 year old birthday and I still have saggy, baggy maternity underwear in my underwear drawer. I think they are hidden in the back near the sexy size 2 silky things. On a busy morning - which do you think I'm reaching for? So needless to say, my husband is 100% behind me (probably so he can start seeing more of the sexy silky numbers).

A quite note about my health. I know my symptoms add up to something being not right. I'm loosing a huge amount of hair, my weight isn't budging, and I'm exhausted. I called my doctor last week and left him a message that I think I needed a thyroid work-up. When he had me come into the office, I had a sweatshirt on in the 76 degree weather, and I still had goosebumps. I tell him that the cold in the grocery store (not even the freezer aisle, just the plain store) is so painful for me. So the doctor sent me in for quite a bit of bloodwork, and all of those results are pending. In the meantime, I'm still working harder at taking better care of myself.

Wish me luck at the job fair.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Raspberry Pie

We used to make this dessert when we lived in Kodiak (Alaska). We'd use the salmonberries that grew in the bushes beside our house. Now we settle for store-bought raspberries, but eventually we'll grow some of our own berries again. Ingredients:
1 c. sugar
1 c. cold water
2 Tbsp corn starch
1/2 c. raspberry jello powder

8 oz. cream cheese
1 container cool whip

1. Bring first 4 ingredients to a boil until thickens - let cool.

2. Mix together cream cheese and cool whip in stand mixer. Spread on top of graham cracker crust.

3. Place berries on top of cool whip mixture, then pour the sugar mixture over berries.

4. Refrigerate for a few hours.

I accidently made this with fat free cream cheese. It was still delicious, but didn't have that creamy cheesecake-y smoothness to it. It was great as is, but I might add more fruit next time - maybe add some strawberries, kiwi, blueberries or blackberries.

Non-Cheeseburger Pie

1/2 onion
1 bag Morning Star Farms crumbles
2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 c. Bisquick
1 c. 1% milk
2 eggs

1. Brown onion in frying pan. Add MSF crumbles to warm up. The crumbles pick up the onion flavor and get crispy in some areas.

2. Preheat oven to 400 F. Pour MSF crumbles/onion into pie plate. Top with cheese.

3. Mix last 3 ingredients. Pour over top of cheese.

4. Bake for about 30 minutes.

We cut this pie into 8 servings. Everyone loved it. Joshua had seconds.

Served with steamed mixed veggies.

Menu plan Monday (err, Tuesday!)

Yipes, what a busy week!

Vegan Tenderbits
Chicken/broccoli/rice side
Steamed greenbeans
Pinapple chunks

Non-hamburger cheeseburger pie
Raspberry pie
Steamed mixed veggies

Wednesday - BFD!! (breakfast for dinner!!)
French toast sticks

Broiled chicken
Sweet potatoes
Mashed potatoes
Steamed broccoli

Spinach and cheese quesadillas
Black beans/rice

Mummy-veggie dogs (we didn't do this last week)
Baked sweet potato fries
Fried okra
Pudding dessert

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Pear Apple Crisp

Last week, I caught a little bit of the Barefoot Contessa on the Food Network. She was making a pear apple crisp and I thought it looked fantastic. Here is my own spin on the recipe - I left a few things out, and added a few other things according to our family's preferences.

4 pears - peeled and chopped
6 apples - peeled and chopped
2 Tbsp orange juice
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
For the topping:
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup old fashioned oatmeal
2 sticks cold butter, diced
1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. In large bowl, combine fruit, juices, sugar, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour into 9 x 12 by 2 inch deep baking dish.
3. Make topping - combine all topping ingredients in stand mixer - mix until mixture is in large crumbles. Sprinkle evenly over fruit.
4. Place a baking dish on top of a sheet pan and bake for 50 minutes until the top is brown and bubbly. Serve warm.
This was fantastic!! The house smelled so good. The kids loved it. The leftovers were great on top of waffles covered with vanilla yogurt for breakfast the next day. Yum!!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Eeek, spiders!!

Joshua's kindergarten class is in need of snacks. They are also studying spiders this week. Put the two together, and we have spider snacks. Ingredients:
1 box round crackers
1 bag of small straight pretzels
1 tub of peanut butter
1 box of raisins

1. Spread crackers with peanut butter, put 8 pretzels (legs) coming out of cracker, top with another cracker.

2. Use more peanut butter to "glue" raisin eyes on spider.

3. Enjoy!!

We hope the kids love these as much as we do!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


That's the number of steps I took today all before I even sat down at the dinner table. The average woman in this country takes about 5,200 steps per day. Often times higher body weights yield lower daily step counts. My goal is to try to walk the recommended 10,000 steps a day every day this week.

Today started as an ordinary day - I decided to go for a walk with Daniel in the stroller after dropping the kids off at school. I walk a few hundred steps just getting the kids out the door in the morning! Daniel and I walked almost 2 miles. When we got home, Keith was feeling bored and wanted to go to Target for a few things we've been needing to get, so off we went. He felt so good walking around, that we walked for nearly 45 minutes, mostly just lapping the store.

Then after picking up the kids from school and doing basic housecleaning activities, I noticed the lawn needed some trimming. It really hurt hubby's pride to see me mow the lawn (he's still not cleared for that type of activity).

After mowing the lawn and other basic lawn work, I needed to adjust the pool chemicals.

Then it was time to make dinner, and toss in a load of laundry.

Yikes - how on Earth do other mom's do all this? Seriously? How do moms do the whole "take care of the house and family" thing, and juggle extracurricular activities? Seriously? I don't feel any ill-will toward these super-moms, I just want an ounce of their time management and energy!

I'm blessed that Keith is home with us more than usual right now while he is recovering from his surgery. However, for the next 9 months, it will most likely be just me and the kids. Because we knew that we wouldn't be living in the same house while he completes his time in the Coast Guard a few hours away, we began to jokingly call this year, "survival year". Meaning we are not taking on any extra activities, we are just going to work on keeping our family afloat while we financially manage two house holds and I act as a single parent.

I'm so blessed to have flexible kids that are loving the fact that we are spending time together as a family doing things together for ourselves and our home and occasionally for our church, instead of racing to individual activities. And today as I walked 9.03 miles between 6am and 6pm today, I realized that sometimes it's about the individual sacrifices we make for our family, that will hopefully leave a lasting impression on the kids teaching them to appreciate what we have and not long for more. Perhaps the exhaustion from being too active today has made me a bit philosophical.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Menu Planning Monday

When I have more time, I'll figure out how to use that fancy Mr. Linky to hook up with Organizing Junkie's Menu Planning Monday list. Those ladies have such amazing ideas - it really helps inspire me to see what other busy moms are making for dinner. It also helps me to realize that it isn't really feasible at this stage in mine (or my children's) lives to be making a menu full of unusually unique, time-consuming recipes.

So here is our busy week -

Monday - honey mustard marinated chicken breasts - baked
corn on the cob from this weekend's farmers' market
butternut squash/chopped apple mash - in crockpot right now - yummy!!
butter mashed potatoes

Tuesday - eggplant parm - by request from Joshua
whole wheat rotini pasta
crock-pot pasta sauce

Wednesday - Dinner out!! We are going to our favorite Mom and Pop pizza joint and then heading to the pumpkin patch to pick out some pumpkins.

Thursday - grilled Muenster cheese sandwiches on fresh sourdough bread
pickles, tomato slices
dinner salad
vegetarian chili
** free circus tonight at the park at 7:30pm - eat fast!

Friday - BFD!!!! (Breakfast for dinner!)
hashbrowned potatoes with onions and peppers
egg white spinach omlets
chopped fruit (whatever is left in the fruit basket)

Saturday - crescent roll mummied vegetarian hotdogs
dinner salad
pasta salad
desert night: peanutty perfection
** Veggietales program at church 6pm - eat fast!!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sunday is shopping day!!

Our first trip was to the farmer's market where we scored all of the above for $9.50.

When we got home from the farmer's market, Keith suggested I leave the kids with him so I could enjoy the rest of the grocery shopping by myself. Let me make two points here - I love grocery shopping by myself so much that it is a recreational activity - and, yes, my husband was greatly rewarded. :)

My first kid-free stop was to CVS - I had $10 in ECB (extra care bucks) and a bunch of coupons. It's almost euphoric saving this much money!

My CVS score -

Garnier Fructis (1) shampoo (1) mousse (1) hairspray - 3/$9.99 (sale) - $3 in coupons for $1 off each Garnier product = 3/$6.99 or $2.33 each.

Lysol 35 count wipes (2) - 2/$5 (sale) - $1 off 2 coupon = 2/$4 or $2 each (and fights flu!)

Sobe Life (5) - 5/$5 Earned 3 ECB

Curel lotion - $6.99 (sale) - $1 coupon = $5.99

Palmolive dishwasher detergent - $.99 (sale) - $.25 coupon = $.75

Jergens lotion - $5.99 (sale) - $1.00 coupon = $4.99

Colgate Total Advanced Whitening toothpaste $3.49 - $.75 coupon = $2.75 Earned 2 ECB

Tampax mulit pack 40 count with free razor $5.99 (sale) Earned 3 ECB

Total paid - $28.42 (used $10 in ECB)
Today saved $31.21 (coupons/sales/ECB)

Earned $10 in ECB

Next stop was Publix where I managed a few good deals there as well!

Aside from CVS and the farmer's market, I've managed to get our weekly grocery shopping bill to hover just around $100 - which is amazing for a family of 5. I pack lunches/snacks for two kids in school and we entertain for dinner at least once a week. We try to eat mostly organic.

Total grocery bill at Publix this week was $104.42 with a savings of $31.76.

Classico pasta sauce B1G1 and a coupon for $1/2 = $1.77 for 2 or about $.90 each

Publix probiotic yogurts on sale for 3/$5 - $1 coupon = 3/$4 or about $1.33 each

Wishbone salad dressing on sale B1G1 and a coupon for$1.25/2 = $2.87-$1.25=$1.62 or about $.80 each.

Lawry's marinade B1G1 and a coupon for $1/2 = $1.81 for 2 or about $.90 each

I can't really link to where the coupons come from, since I cut and organize coupons weekly from different sources - just about everything is from the Sunday paper and Publix flyers.

Happy Shopping!

Peanut Butter Jammies

I'm learning to love cooking with the kids. This weekend, Megan and I made Peanut Butter Jammies.


1/2 c. all purpose flour
3/4 c. creamy peanut butter
3/4 c. sugar
1 egg lightly beaten
6 Tbsp strawberry jam

1. Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup, level with knife. Place peanut butter, sugar and egg in mixer at medium speed. Add flour, stir well. Shape dough into 24 balls, place 1 inch apart on baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Press thumb into center of each cookie leaving a dent.

2. Cover and chill for 3 hours.

3. Bake at 375 for 12 minutes, cool, add jam into indention.

Very fun to make and very fun to eat. I liked that I could actually taste the peanut butter. I'll definitely be making these again.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Cucumber-Avocado Soup

I can't remember who gave me the original recipe, but here is our tweaked version of it. While I am aware that it is October and I should be making fall-related foods, the hubby is still recovering from his colon surgery and is only eating soups. This nice cool soup is one of his favorites.


1 large ripe avocado
1 1/2 c. chicken broth
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 large english cucumber
5 tbsp fresh tomato salsa
1/2 c. sour cream
garlic salt to taste

1. In food processor, combine avocado and cucumber and process until smooth.

3. Add broth, 3 tbsp salsa, lemon juice and sour cream, process until all combined.

3. Chill 2 hours. Add garlic salt to taste. I add a tbsp of salsa to the top as a garnish.

Eggs in a Nest

A very easy breakfast idea that my 6 year old loved helping with this past weekend was the making of some eggs in a nest.

1 slice bread
1 egg
salt/pepper to taste

1. Use a 3-inch cookie cutter to cut shape out of bread.

2. Spray non-stick skillet.

3. Place bread in pan and break egg into hole.

4. Cook on both sides. Serve with toasted shape.

We added cinnamon sugar to our toasted shape for a treat.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Awesome crockpot blog

I thought I'd spread the word - this fantastic blog will encourage me to use my crockpot more!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Spinach Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette


1 1/2 cup quarted strawberries
2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 1/2 c. thin sliced peeled peaches or nectarines
1 can mandarin oranges (rinsed)
2 tbsp slivered almonds toasted
10 oz. packaged fresh spinach, torn (or packages Spring Mix, depending on what's available)

1. Place 1 cup strawberries, vinegar, brown sugar, olive oil, salt and pepper in blender, process until smooth. This is the salad dressing.

2. In large bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients. This is the salad.

This was my go-to recipe for summer time pot-luck parties when I was working at the doctor's office. This is one of my favorite salads, and my kids love it!!

4-Layer Chocolate Pie

I know, I know, this is supposed to be a healthy family blog. In our family we allow desserts for special occasions. Last night some friends of ours came over for dinner, so I figured it was a great time to pull out an old dessert recipe. These friends were our neighbors when we lived in Alaska and we've shared many meals between their house and ours. It was so good to sit around our table again and chat over a good meal. On the menu was tequila-lime marinated organic boneless-skinless chicken breasts covered in aluminum foil and baked for 35 minutes until they were perfectly cooked and very moist. Served with a pasta salad and a spinach salad with strawberry vinaigrette (recipe to come). For dessert we indulged in the 4-Layer Chocolate Pie. The food was good, the company was great and the children were so well-behaved I had to keep checking to make sure they were actually mine.

4-Layer Chocolate Pie (adapted from a recipe given to me by another Alaskan neighbor, Olla)

1 stick butter, melted
1 cup flour
1/2 cup pecans, chopped (I was out so I used almonds)
8 oz package of cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup Cool-whip
2 4 1/2 oz packages chocolate instant pudding
3 1/2 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla
Cool whip

1. Combine pudding packages, milk and vanilla - put in fridge to set.
2. Combine butter, flour and pecans. Press into 9x13x2 inch pan and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Cool.
3. In stand mixer (I love my Kitchenaid), combine cream cheese, sugar and cool whip (1 cup). Spread over crust.
4. Spread pudding mix over crust.
5. Top with Cool whip.

Chill before serving. Tastes best if it has been able to chill for a few hours, can prepare the night before and add final Cool whip layer just before serving.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Getting Organized

Our home has a small pantry in the kitchen right beside the refrigerator. Up until recently, this worked out well for us. However, with my new eating-at-home kick, there is alot more food in my cabinet now. I purchased these cabinets from Target for about $80 for both of them. It's so nice to be able to see what we have available to eat and plan meals.

Another idea that came to mind this week was the way I had been making my weekly menu. I had been creating the menu and then shopping. Now, I shop and use the purchases supplementing with fruits and veggies from the farmer's market to create meals. It's amazing how much money I save using coupons. Today I saved $50 at Publix.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


Or Snoodies, as my almost 3 year old calls them. After my muffin mishap, I made smoothies for breakfast the next morning.

1 cup orange juice
1 cup strawberries
1 large banana
1 cup ice
1 container of greek yogurt

It was pretty tastey, however, I think I'll add a dash of vanilla or honey to the next one for just a little touch of sweet. Or leave the yogurt out so that the smoothie isn't creamy, but fruity.

I'd like to figure out how to add some greens to my smoothies.

Muffin Mishap

Well, I thought I would try to make some "healthy" muffins for a quick breakfast one morning this week. I was lured by the healthy name and the high fiber claim. What I failed to do was to actually read the rest of the label. The muffins were high in flavor, but low in nutrition. By the time I pollished off two muffins, I had taken in over 300 calories and as much sugar as a can of soda. Off to find a healthy muffin recipe from scratch.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


This week was pre-occupied with many preop telephone calls. I feel as though it was not one of my better weeks providing meals for myself and the kids. Meet my two new best friends.... Slap these guys onto a slice of whole wheat bread, fold in half, and voila...dinner is somewhat made. Sadly, we had PB&J's for dinner twice this week. We also had Taco Bell one night when the power was out when the electricians were working on the street light in front of our house. Tonight we had Burger King that I grabbed from the drive-thru at 6:30pm on the way back from CVS picking up some dye-free Motrin for my sick 6 year old. How backwards is that?

Anyway, it was a week with different sandwiches. I will say that I am proud of the fact that I've come to realize that sandwiches are not best friends with potato chips. I still have a hard time eating tuna sandwiches without potato chips (heck, I usually put the chips on the tuna sandwich!). So I ask this...other than potato chips, what goes on the plate with sandwiches?

This week we did apple slices and grapes. Anybody got any better ideas?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Off to a great start

2 pounds strawberries
2 pounds green beans
1 small watermellon
1 large loaf of fresh baked bread
1 large cucumber
3 large zucchinis

all for around $10

A day at the farmer's market getting the kids excited about produce...priceless.


I hadn't realized how much that little word weighed until finally I read it on the pathology report. Just saying the word felt like an anvil had been removed from my shoulders. I count our blessings that we are lucky enough to not be battling cancer. In that same breath, I still have concerns that my husband has a serious colon condition and doctor's aren't 100% certain what caused the breakdown in his colon wall. Hubby will be having surgery next week to have a portion of his colon removed. This is scary business for anyone undergoing such a traumatic surgery, but even more so for hubby because he is 34 years old. This type of damage is usually seen in much older individuals.

So just a recap - Hubby will now need to follow a high-fiber, low-meat diet. He does not live with us full-time due to his working conditions, so he will try to do the best he can living the bachelor life. Joshua has not been tested for food allergies/sensitivities yet, however I notice a reaction to Red #40 (found in common things, including Tylenol), and all artificial Blue colors. He is 6 years old. Our 4 year old, Megan, does not follow any specific diet, however, too many sugary treats really affects her sleeping pattern. The little guy, Daniel, will be 3 in a few weeks. We tease that Daniel is our vegan. If he had the choice between cows milk or rice milk, he'd pick rice, soy or almond milk hands-down over cows milk. Daniel could live on fruits and veggies alone. And finally, there's me. I'm lactose intolerant. Sure, I could probably take a pill for that, but I'm choosing to instead alter my diet to remove the offending products from it. So with what seems like a variety of dietary challenges, we're going back to the basics. More fruits and veggies and less of everything else.

Friday, September 12, 2008


As Megan jumped into the minivan after school today, she proudly displayed the reward she earned for being good all week. I was less enthusiastic about the candy than she had hoped. Infact, I have to be honest and say I'm a little disappointed in the fact that her teacher (who I absolutely adore) had this tiny lapse in judgement to give candy to a 4 year old.
With only 14.3 grams of sugar and every artificial color possible, this treat turned out to be a recipe for disaster at our house.

I'm trying to help the kids make healthy choices, not make the choices for them. Megan chose to try the candy. She didn't quite like it, so she gave it over to Joshua. Notice the blue food coloring. Joshua doesn't get along with blue food coloring, it makes him break out in hives and wheeze. I wasn't aware that Megan was sharing her candy with her brother since they were eating at the kitchen table and I was running around the house gathering up laundry. I see a few problems - I need to be present when the kids are eating, and I need to find more ways to make non-food rewards more exciting than the candy that the kids are getting at school. Infact, I'd love to do away with rewards all together and focus my energy on teaching them about the intrinsic rewards that come along with doing the right thing.

And incidently, Keith wanted pizza tonight for dinner, so I ordered from a local mom and pop shop instead of a chain resteraunt. I went with a thinner crust and light on the cheese. Nobody seemed to notice. Have I mentioned how often we eat out (or order take-out)? Too much! My goal for the remainder of September is to only eat out (or take out) once a week. Do we eat out more than the normal family?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

It begins...

It all comes down to this...the scale. While cleaning the bathroom today, I hopped up on our scale. After I let out a shocking gasp, I realized that today I weigh the same thing I weighed when I went in for my 20 week ultrasound when I was pregnant with my first child. At 5 ft 4 inches tall, my weight fits my frame best when I am around 125 pounds. However, today, I am 147 pounds. The number on the scale really wouldn't bother me if I didn't have the body to go with it. You know, the mommy-body. The muffin-top that ridges out over the top of my jeans. I can try to buy one of the new trendy shirts that flow out at the waiste to hide my muffin top, but all that does is make me look like I am expecting #4. No way, no how, not possible.

So here I am knowing that I need to make some changes to my diet and lifestyle. It my body looks and feels this unhealthy on the outside, what does it look like in there? If the inside of my body is full of garbage, does that hold true for my kids, too? I just can't bear the thought of filling them up on high-fat, high-sugar, and high-sodium foods. However, when I look back on my family blog and see how much eating out we do, I'm embarassed. Even tonight, we had dinner at Taco Bell just for fun.

We'll still have fun, and we'll still eat delicious foods. We are all going to change our palate a little bit and our attitude alot. Join me as I figure out how to make me a little more healthy and how to keep my kids healthy. I'm certain there will be a few stumbles along the way, but I'm even more certain that there will be huge successes, too.

Here's to tomorrow - a new day filled with learning about healthy choices and learning to implement them in our house!