Friday, November 25, 2011

Pass the Thankfullness, Please.

I admit it!!!  I stink when it comes to taking the time to do special things to emphasize holiday seasons and create special memories.  I am not good at creating Thankful Journals or having each family member write what they are thankful for and put it in a jar.  I think my family would laugh at me if I even tried.  I am not creative enough (or patient enough) to make scrapbook albums.  And we just can't seem to find a day to bake cookies.  Believe me, the spirit is willing, but the time managment is weak!

However, this year I am humbled by my lack of time and how it has impacted this "Season of Thanks", or should I call it my "Season of Nothing Different than Last Month."  Although we strive every day to appreciate our blessings as a family (grace before dinner, prayers before bed, conversations of blessings, etc), I am humbled by the fact that during this "Season of Thanks", there's been no special season, and there has been no special thanks.  Instead, I'm afriad that our thanks-giving has become rote and mundane to them.  How did this happen????  "No!  I want it to be more than that!" my heart pleads.   I want my children to really appreciate not only the celebration of the First Thanksgivng between the Pilgrims and the Native Americans, but also to appreciate all we have been givin in this life. 

So in an effort to abort this "Season of Nothing Different Than Last Month" and redirect it, I have come up with a list of things that does not require extra time or any creatvity (or domesticality) that will create a  SEASON (meaning more than one day) of THANKFULNESS to my children.   Here is my list.  I call it, "Hey, Give Me a Break.  I am Not Creative and Have Limited Time" list of new annual traditions.

Prior to Thanksgiving Day:
     *   "I am Thankful for YOU" video cards.
     Now that I have a smartphone (thank you, work!), I have the amazing ability to create short videos and email them instantly.  Each day, my children each think of one person they are thankful for and 3 reasons why they are thankful for them or 3 things that they love/cherish about that person.  I make a video of them expressing this and send it to each person.  Every morning.  Before SuperReader comes on. 
     *  Thanksgiving Book Nook
     All the Thanksgiving  themed books have been put into a basket and put them in a cozy corner with a bean bag chair or pillows and blankets, creating a cozy atmosphere where we can cuddle as a family and read books of Thankfulness.  Each night.  Before bed.
    *  Thanksgiving Eve
     Since Thanksgiving Day tends to be a day of cooking, rushing around, and sometimes chaos with all the guests and people swirling around, take Wednesday evening to snuggle up as a family and spend quality time all together.    This year's First Annual Thanksgiving Eve Family Party included a fireside picnic dinner (finger food for the children & Thai takeout for us) and movie night/game night.  In our jammies, of course! 

Thanksgiving Day:
     *  Thanksgiving Hostess Gift
     A special symbol of gratitude for the person hosting the Thanksgiving meal.  Since it's usually a family member, I often forget the hostess gift.  No longer!!!  Consider an apron, a filled photo book of the years highlights, or a Christmas ornament.

After Thanksgiving:
     *  Friday Date Day
     Instead of shopping on Friday, have a date with each of your children throughout the day.  Each parent can take one child and then switch throughout the day, or you can arrange to have a sitter (or family member) stay with the remaining children while you spend quality time with one child at a time, expressing your thankfulness for that individual child. 
     *  On Saturday after Thanksgiving, volunteer at a shelter, the Salvation Army, Meals on Wheels, etc, to give to those less fortunate. 

 Suddenly, Thanksgiving feels much  more thankful!!!  

Monday, July 11, 2011

Happy Girls are the Prettiest

"I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles."
Audrey Hepburn

I'm in search of inner beauty!  From my head to my toes.  There are 3 things I'm striving for - a beautiful spirit, beautiful health, and a little pep in my step that can provide contagious joy to others.  Today, being the Monday that it is, I gotta fake it till I make it.  So, to give a little pep in my step, I'm wearing pokadot shoes.  It's amazing how fun shoes (in addition to a joyful spirit), puts pep in my step.  I also put on a happy face.  I'm smiling at every person I see.  According to , smiling makes us more attractive.  People want to know what we're so happy about.  In addition, if you smile at someone, they feel that perhaps they have something to do with that happiness.  And people like making others feel happy.  Start smiling at people and you'll notice more people are drawn to you.  Smiling is completely worthwhile - they say that smiling can actually make us happier, improve our health, and make us more successful.  

So today I'm believing I'm beautiful, even though I wasn't feeling it when I got up.  And, like Audrey Hepburn, I'm believing in pink, and I'm believing in miracles!  I wasn't feeling beautiful when I got out of bed this morning, but between my shoes, my smile, and the healthy lunch I just enjoyed -- I'm feeling beautiful now.  Way more gorgeous than that that crabby girl over there who could be America's Next Top Model -- if she'd only smile.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

He Cares

It's always humbled and amazed me how much God cares about the details of our lives.  He really takes care of even the simplest things!  For me, I've found myself in awe at the details he's provided;  amazing friends at the perfect time, favorite fashions on sale for 90% off when I could never justify paying full or even half price for something new,  free haircuts when I needed one so bad, and perfect weather on important days.  My list can go on and one.  One year ago I found myself feeling desperation over things that I thought he didn't care about; such as my weight and what I was wearing -- how could I afford to pay for a weight loss program (at the time I was even considering surgery) and or justify buying new clothes that would fit me.  But he has continued to provide everything I needed, even in such a silly need as food and clothing on my weight loss journey.  I always thought this verse was for people who couldn't AFFORD to eat.  But my issues had little to do with money and more to do with self obsession.  But he even cares about my weight loss journey.  And why would that surprise me???

Matthew 6:25-32

 25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life[a]?    28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

HOWEVER!  There's a rub! I'm going to be honest here.  I've always known that God cares about the details of my life.  However, through my Christian walk, it rarely occurred to me that if God cares about what I eat and how I treat my body, Satan also cares about it and will use it to distract you from God.

This was my realization about 9 months ago.  I was desperately trying to loose weight and get healthy, yet I was struggling with the mental part of the journey.  It suddenly occurred to me that I was intentionally being distracted from God with my obsession about what I was eating, drinking, weighing, and how I was looking.  I was letting these things determine my self worth and and provide me with my self esteem instead of seeking my value and worth as a child of God.  Only when I realized Satan's hold on me as it pertained to food and self worship was I able to let go of these strongholds.  My obsession of how I was looking/wanted to look had a huge bondage for me - and I didn't even have a clue about it.  Satan is sneaky -- he'll try to get his hands in you one way or another.  I was living in pride that I wasn't struggling with any "big" sins - until I realized my sin and idolatry of food was present and equal to the other sins in the eyes of God.  I realized I was personally involved in some spiritual warfare that I didn't even really believe in prior to this journey.  But that's another blog -- something I may share at a later date.  If I posted it, I'm pretty sure any readers that stumbled across it would think I was pretty crazy.  =)

Thanks to God, I've been freed from this bondage.  Don't get me wrong -- Satan still attacks me in this way.  It's still a struggle as Satan continues to find my weaknesses as they often pertain to food and my appearance.  However, as tomorrow marks Good Friday and we celebrate the sacrifice that Christ made for us on the cross, we can truly rejoice in the freedom we gained through his loss.   I truly rejoice in the fact that Jesus conquered death and conquered Satan through his sacrifice.  And through this - I am free.

So what am I eating for Easter Dinner?  My meal will consist of a number of delicious items, yet will continue to honor my body as God's temple, as I indulge in things that are wholesome, free of chemicals and other toxins, and will not attack my cells or my blood sugar, or allow Satan in to attack me and provide me with temptation that would he would, no doubt, claim victory in.     My celebration will be focused on my family who is gathering together WHILE we eat, but not a celebration of the food itself.    This, in itself, is a victory for me. 

Easter Menu:
**I'm in the process of posting links, so if it's not yet posted, check back!!!****

Main Dish: 
     Ham with Ham Gravy

Side Dishes: 
     Deviled Eggs

     Lemon Cheesecake   

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

In Search of a Meek and Quiet Spirit


1 Peter 3; 3-6

 3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. 4 Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 5 For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, 6 like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.
I don't know when it was, exactly, that it was impressed upon me that I needed to obtain a "meek and quiet" spirit to be a Godly woman.  The topic seriously use to send me spewing!  The term "meekness" has always rubbed me wrong as the image it conjures up for me is of a woman with her head bowed and no personal opinions.  I remember first asking God if I HAD to be this way to be a Godly woman, and then praying for God to MAKE me this woman, even though I felt like it went against every grain of my natural personality.  Didn't God make me boisterous and energetic???  How does this fit in with a "meek and gentle spirit" that he commands we have as Godly women? He never did make me a person to stand with my head bowed and nothing to say.  And secretly, I was relieved.

The verse was pressing on me today.  So I decided to spend some time on the word "meek."  With further study of definition, I have come to learn that society has given us the wrong image of this Christ-like characteristic.  Webster defines meek as  "enduring injury with patience and without resentment" (  Suddenly, being "meek" brings upon a whole new image.  This new image was profound - and encouraging. 

After spending time researching and defining "meek", I was curious as to the definition of "quiet."  Of course, the primary use of quiet is "little or no activity", however the number two definition is "gentle and easy going." 

So as I continue to cloak myself in Christ-like character, I am striving to "endure injury with Patience and without resentment."  This definition speaks of our inner beauty, what's happening inside when we've been wronged.  Funny that God would plant this on my heart this week, as I have honestly found myself offended by a few people who I feel I have been unjustifiably wronged by!  Now I'm being told to let it go.  Wow, I think it would be easier to keep my head down my mouth shut but be allowed to spew on the inside. 

And to be "gentle and easy going" - that can be difficult, too, especially when I have a strong opinion about something.  My natural tendency is to share my brilliance and my brilliant discoveries with anyone and everyone.  Honestly, I'm always a little shocked when people don't share the same enthusiasm about something as I do.  Even simple things, like food, or movies, or things that I think are funny.   

Yep, clearly it's time to robe myself in this Christ-like characteristic. 

So on today's search for inner beauty, I am working on my meek and quiet spirit.  Just for the record, this goes against my inner sinner.  But with God, all things are possible, right?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Fighting the "Don't Call Me, I'll Call You (After I Meet Goal Weight.....)" Sydrome

I love to fellowship and socialize with friends.  However, when it comes to my weight loss journey, the fastest way to self-sabotage my efforts are to go to a party of any sort.  Truthfully, my will power is attacked at social gatherings, and as I continue to pray about it and improve on it, it is still my biggest weakness when it comes to treating my body like a temple and practicing self control.  I do better to flea from this temptation and not attend social parties. 
However, that being said, I am personally a social being and cannot "starve" myself of fellowship.  Not only that, but we are called to gather together for friendship and support.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12: Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:  If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.

So how do I cope with this challenge?  First, I've discovered that restaurants can be a breeze to navigate.  I love having a menu of choices.  And almost every restaurant I've ever been to will customize your order.  I order any burger, hold the bun and get a veggie or side salad in place of fries.  Or I order any dinner, hold the rice or potato, and substitute it with veggies, fruit, or salad.    I feel like I've had a real treat and I don't feel deprived at all.  Second, I offer to entertain at my own house where I can control what I serve.  This only happens on special holidays, as entertaining is quite the endeavor and saved for special events. 

The other,  most common thing I find myself doing, is meet a friend for coffee.  I have found that I love a nice cup of coffee (or 2 or 3).  I can order a regular cup of coffee (often with free refills!).  My favorites are the flavored coffees.  I've noticed that since I have largely eliminated sugar from my diet, I can clearly, and sweetly, taste the flavor.  If I can't get a flavored variety, then I get a bold blend coffee and sweeten it and make it a treat by adding sugar free sweeteners (I can bring my own flavored stevia - chocolate raspberry is my favorite - or I can use spenda or a sugar free flavor offered by the coffeehouse). I can sit and visit for, literally, hours, without ever being tempted by any other sweets or other savory downfalls. 

Of course, with that being said, the best activity is going for a walk or shopping at the mall, however, for myself, I  find it's hard to really connect and catch up with my friends in this type of activity.   I would personally prefer a more intimate activity, which, unfortunately, generally includes food.

However, some social events I can't avoid (like Easter at my In-Laws!)   When it comes to this, I remember that this is a lifelong journey and that the big picture and overall lifestyle is the key.  I can't starve myself, socially.    That is not a life I choose to live.  I choose to be joyful and a light to others.   These social gatherings are an opportunity to test my self control in the midst of temptation.  I can't improve it without practicing it.

So.... I refuse to live a "Don't Call Me, I'll Call You After Goal Weight" lifestyle.  However, I'm kinda busy for lunch.  But would you like to get together for coffee sometime?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Get Your Party On

It's important to me to provide a healthy, safe, stable home, with lots of fun memories and traditions for my children.  The emotionally healthy, safe and stable part is complete through my strong marriage and foundation of faith.   No question that is the best thing I can provide my children.   However, being a second generation full time working mom with 2 toddlers sometimes makes the "create fun memories and traditions" part of my "to do" list, and, to be honest, sometimes falls to the wayside.  Now, the big holidays such as Birthdays, Easter and Christmas are gimmies.  I really don't have a problem with those.  I have lots of things to pull from my own past and traditions that my family gave me to be able to pull from.  However, I want to create fun memories and traditions in our every day life - and this is where my challenge lies.  Not to mention the physically healthy part of this -- in my family, I'm truly going where no woman has ever gone before!

However, with that being said, I have been inspired!  I have a friend who makes every holiday a family party at her house.  She even includes special events, such as the Olympics and the first day of school.  She is a stay at home mom of 5 (!). She creates breakfasts, activities and desserts with these special themes in mind.  I have also been recently turned on to Jamie Schultz's blog This Lunch Rox  (  Jamie makes themed lunches for her kids.  Her lunches are also healthy.  School + Lunch = healthy AND fun???  Who knew this could even be done?!  So inspiring! 

So, with this inspiration, I've decided to up my Mom Game when it comes to dinner during holidays and significant events.  Of course, added to the creative challenge is the healthy challenge!  And it needs to fit into my "full time working mom" life.  But inspiration behold.... it IS possible!  I implemented my first inspirational project on St. Patrick's Day. 

This surprise dinner party featured rainbow veggies (cauliflower) with mashed potato clouds (mashed potatoes made with 2 scoops of unflavored whey protein, cream, and some butter), "gold" a the end of the rainbow (cheese), green eggs and shamrock ham, and a coconut flour rainbow cupcake.   To drink was Shamrock Protein Shake (Click HERE for the recipe).
I also went to the dollar store and bought St. Paddy's Day hats for everyone, made green construction paper place mats, and found some old Mardi Gras beads to put out.  I spent a whole $4.00 on favors and decorations for our dinner party.

For activities, while the girls were at preschool, the leprechauns came and mixed up all kinds of furniture at our house.  They dropped coins along the way.  This was very exciting for the girls to see and of course they loved collecting the coins and putting the money their piggy banks.  (a whole 20 cents!)    We also had a few rainbow color games, as well as dreaming up tales of what those silly leprechauns were doing in our house!

The most exciting part of this for me was the fact that I could still provide a healthy meal for them that was packed with protein and vitamins, with very few processed carbs.  I kept the serving sizes small (something I learned from Jamie's blog This Lunch Rox at and offered a large variety of tastes. To my delight, they ate it ALL!   And really, this was not a difficult or labor intensive meal to make.  I made the cupcakes the night before, but otherwise, the whole thing only took me about 30-45 minutes to put together.    This is definitely a challenge I'm looking forward to rising to the occasion for.  What theme should I do next.....  hmmmm....  I notice Earth Day is coming up in April.....

Monday, March 14, 2011

What's in My Pantry?

There are a few "must haves" in my pantry for me to be able to cook (and bake) successfully on a "no sugar low starch" lifestyle.  I keep these things stocked all the time so I can successfully "whip something up."

1.  Whey Protein (vanilla, chocolate, and original)
Whey protein is called for in many recipes.  I also make some incredible shakes using it, including   whatever speciality seasonal shake McDonald's is offering - most recently the Shamrock Shake.  But whey protein is also used as a flour alternative sometimes.  I find my whey protein at Sam's Club for a very reasonable price.

2.  Ideal Sweetener (white sugar and brown sugar)
Ideal Sweetener is made of Xylitol and really doesn't have any funny aftertaste that I can notice.  Or anyone from my family has ever noticed.  Believe me, they'd tell me.  I have found the best price for Ideal on Amazon.  You can usually find it with no shipping.

3.  Coconut Oil
I use coconut oil not only in my baking, but also in place of butter.   My favorite and most common thing to use it for is Chocolate Delight.  There are too many health benefits for me to outline here. It's worthy of an entire blog entry.  Check out Dr. Mercola;

4.  Shirataki/Miracle Noodles
Have you tried these things?  **WARNING:  You have to make them properly or they are completely gaggable.  You MUST drain them, rinse them, drain them again, and then microwave them for 3-4 minutes before using them.  With that being said, these are a great addition to your cooking staples.  You can use them as a noodle substitute in whatever noodle dish you make.  They really don't have much flavor, they mostly just absorb the flavor of the sauce you are serving them with.  I love them best with pesto or Alfredo sauce.  A whole cup of these noodles are only 40 calories, 1 gm fat, 6 carbs and 4 fiber (equalling 2 "usable carbs."  I buy mine at Whole Foods for about $2.50 a bag.  They give you 10% off if you buy 12 bags or more at a time.

5.  Frozen Cauliflower
     I do SO MUCH with cauliflower!!!  Including make all kinds of rice dishes (using riced cauliflower instead), lasagna noodles,and even bread sticks.

6.  Baking Cocoa
     I have discovered Penzy's Spices baking cocoa and there truly is no replacement for that.  However, any baking cocoa will do the trick.  Add it to a little sweetener and you can make anything chocolate that you could ever want.

7.  Coconut flour
     This is a new find for me.  It can be used as a flour substitute.  I have made cookies, brownies, cakes, muffins, biscuits, and pizza crusts with it.  It can be found in the natural foods section of the grocery store, but I get mine at Whole Foods for about $8.00.  That may sound like a lot, but a little goes a very long way.  For example, 1/3 of a cup makes a dozen .  I bought a 16 oz. bag and finally used it up after 6 months of baking with it.  1 serving of coconut flour (2 TB) of coconut flour is 60 calories, 2 gm fat, and 3 usable carbs. 

8.  Veggies and fruit
   I don't want anyone to think that veggies and fruit are not a part of our lives around here.  HUGE.  PART.

9.  Cheese
All kinds.  All the time.

10.  Meats
Once again.  All kinds.  All the time.  We freeze them so we can pull them out and whip up dinner without ever requiring an emergency trip to the store. 

As you can see, with these 10 items always at hand, there is no reason to not be able to cook every day recipes. With these items on hand, I can always whip up noodle dishes, rice dishes, biscuits, desserts and even pizza!  I feel like there is nothing that I can't convert to a no sugar low starch dish.  Hmmm.  I think it's time to start thinking about dinner!

Happy shopping!