Monday, December 20, 2010

Stress over the holidays? Naw...

It's well after midnight and I've been lying in bed for at least half an hour, but it feels like much longer. I'm tired, but nowhere near falling asleep. Usually when this happens, there are about five dozen things that I am thinking about that absolutely positively need to be done ASAP, but I've decided that I need sleep even more than I need to get them done. Tonight, no such worries. Was it the Coke that I drank right before bed that is now keeping me up? Probably not since I've gone back to drinking way too much soda, and the caffeine is running through my veins at a pretty constant level.

I actually think I'm at a pretty good place right now in terms of my things-to-do list. My Christmas shopping is pretty much done, and almost all of the presents are even wrapped. I'm off from work for two weeks, and managed to get all of my reports done before leaving. Of course, there are some things that just didn't get done before I left Los Angeles with the boys to head home for the holidays (Chris will join us later). Like sweeping and mopping the floors so that the house would actually be clean when we return. Or writing my notes from work. Or our Christmas cards. I'm still hoping to get those done this week, though, even though I know it means many people probably won't actually receive them until after Christmas. Is that important? I don't know- it's something that I think really would have bothered me in the past. Which made me start thinking.

A friend that I hadn't seen in awhile was visiting recently during my absolutely most crazy busy week of this year. Which is saying a lot considering I feel like life has been pretty nonstop crazy since Jake started kindergarten this year. I was in the midst of organizing some continuing education courses for work, while juggling fundraising events and meetings at Jake's school, on top of my usual routine of work and caring for my kids. And on the first day of the series of three courses, it was pretty chaotic- the AV equipment wasn't doing what it was supposed to (even though I had checked everything out ahead of time, and it worked fine on the trial run), and the kids that were supposed to come for demos were calling out sick. Of course, everything was worked out, and the courses ended up going great. But I remember my friend asking about how I was doing it without appearing overly stressed. Basically, what she asked was, does having kids make you no longer "sweat the small stuff"?

The small stuff- like whether our Christmas cards arrive before or after Christmas? Whether or not my notes from September get finished by the end of the year? Whether over the holidays I put back on five of those 25 pounds I lost this year, and then have to work them back off when I get home? Are those the things keeping me up at night?

I don't know, I think there's just so much "stuff" that there's just not enough time to stress over all of it. I think having two kids and a busy schedule has helped me to learn how to multi-task even better than before. And how to prioritize. Like remembering to move our Elf on the Shelf to a new location for Jake to find in the morning. To put on the Phineas and Ferb Christmas CD and dance around the living room. To take the time to let Jake help wrap presents. His favorite part? Writing the "to" and "from" labels. But instead of just a simple label, he likes to write sentences on each package like, "I Love You. Jayden I hope You Have A Great Christmas. To Jayden Love Jake And Brody." All while slowly sounding out each word and confirming which letters spell what he's trying to say.

So no, I didn't really cross anything off my to-do list today. And I certainly wasn't a perfect mom making the most of every single moment. But all in all, I'd say that I am very much enjoying making some new holiday memories with my boys.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Saying Goodbye

There are moments when I consider whether or not I really want to be a parent. Does this make me a bad mom? Like this morning... I don't know why Jake was having a hard time getting ready for school. I just know that everything turned into an argument, no matter what I said. Maybe he was still tired. Maybe he's coming down with whatever caused me to lose my voice last week. Or maybe he's just not a morning person. All I know is that it was a struggle for him to get dressed, eat breakfast, put on shoes and get out the door. And don't even get me started on finishing up the last of his homework from this week- that's a whole other post for me to write. I think I even breathed a sigh of relief as I drove off this morning and Chris took Jake to school.

And then I got some news on my way to work. Earlier, I received an email from a teacher at one of the schools where I provide physical therapy services. Call me ASAP was all it said. Curious, I called her on my way in to the clinic.

"I have to give you some bad news," she said. It was about one of the children that I treat at school twice a week. He passed away on Wednesday. It was a complete shock to everyone, including his family. He had had health issues in the past related to his metabolic disorder. And he was in the hospital now due to some difficulties with his medications. But earlier this week, we still thought he was being released and would be back at school before the end of the week. His teacher didn't know the details- his mom was of course pretty shaken up when she talked to her yesterday. The teacher promised to forward me the details about the funeral arrangements when she knew more.

I hung up in shock, and I think I'm still there. My heart is breaking for his family and everyone who knew and loved him. He was only four years old.

Please hold your children tight and tell them that you love them today. Everything else seems trivial.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Menu Planning... Trying to get back into the routine

Last week was pretty good in that I managed to make dinner at home 5 out of 7 nights. Which was exactly what I planned for, so I'd call that a success! Especially since before that, I've been averaging only one to two meals a month cooked at home.

I learned from my friends on Facebook that maybe everyone else doesn't do as great of a job of cooking at home every night that I think they do. After my post about struggling to make dinner one night, some wrote that they were having pizza delivered, eating Chinese food, or having hot dogs at Target. And others had good suggestions to make it a little easier- crockpot cooking, making breakfast for dinner, having frozen pizza on hand, making soup/chili ahead of time, or using a meal planning website. Great suggestions! My go-to easy meal is usually something from the frozen section at Trader Joe's. They have yummy orange chicken, frozen meatballs (for sandwiches or to throw in pasta sauce), and lots of great frozen veggie combos. I recently sampled their frozen turkey meatloaf with mashed potatoes and ended up bringing those home, too (they're on the menu plan this week!). But for me, the biggest help is just planning ahead and then having the motivation to stick with it instead of having Chris pick something up on his way home from work.

The part that I really didn't do well last week was the exercise plan. I didn't make it to the gym at all. There's so much going on during the week that it's too hard to fit in exercise in the mornings. And then on the weekends, there's always something else with the family that takes priority. For now, I'm going to take that off my list, and just focus on getting back into the cooking routine. Here's the dinner plan for this week:

Sunday: Stuffed peppers (since I didn't find time to make them last week)
Monday: Meatloaf "muffins" with mashed potatoes
Tuesday: Spiral pasta with vodka sauce
Wednesday: Chicken burritos
Thursday: Leftovers
Friday: Italian pasta soup and grilled cheese
Saturday: We're going to be busy all day, so we'll go out or pick something up for dinner

As long as I can make it to the grocery store by Tuesday, I think I can make it happen!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Meals and Exercise... I just need a plan

Tomorrow is Halloween. Which means that the end of the year is coming quickly. I love the holiday season, but it's always stressful- too much to do and not enough time.

I feel like I'm losing it lately. I find myself frustrated with the kids, annoyed that I'm not making time for exercising, and disappointed that I'm eating way too much unhealthy take-out food again. I know it's time to take a look back at my goals that I set for myself in March, but I'm afraid that I've slipped so far backwards that I'll feel like a failure.

I need to get back to blogging, because that was the one thing that made me accountable and helped me to stick to my plan. What changed that led me to stop blogging? Time. I picked up more hours at work, and at the same time I started volunteering at Jake's new school. A little bit in the classroom, but mostly with the parent organization supporting the school. My job: fundraising. Which is basically a full-time job in and of itself. The school needs money in order to get all of the programs off the ground that we want in our brand-new elementary: art, music, PE, library, garden, playground supplies, field trips, and a million other "extras" that no longer fit into the basic school budget. All of which are important, and all of which require money to get the programs up in running. If I'm going to lead the fundraising committee, I want to do it well. And that's one job where no matter how much time I devote to planning events, soliciting donations, writing grants, etc. etc. etc... there's always more that can be done.

I don't know if I can make the time to get back to blogging with any regularity. But I do know that if I don't do my menu planning, we end up eating out or picking up take out for almost every meal. So I'm going to try to start with that. And here's my plan for the week.

Breakfasts: Frozen waffles. I think we'll try to make to the Farmer's Market tomorrow morning to pick up some fruits so that we'll have some options.

Lunches: I'll have to see if I can make enough dinners to have leftovers available for lunches. Otherwise, I have some frozen meals stored up.

  • Dinner: Pre trick-or-treating meal with friends. Not sure what we'll have yet. (Edit: Pizza)
  • Exercise: Pilates Didn't make it
  • Dinner: Stuffed Peppers Chicken and Bacon Sub Sandwiches
  • Exercise: Muscle strength class- trying out a new class at the gym Didn't make it
  • Dinner: Grilled chicken and frozen veggies
  • Exercise: Muscle strength class (if I liked it on Tuesday), or maybe just treadmill Didn't make it

  • Dinner: Leftovers Chris and I got a babysitter and went out to dinner

  • Dinner: Dinner out somewhere to celebrate eating in the rest of the week. Dude, if I actually cook dinner four nights in a row this week, it'll be a huge improvement over the last month or two. Edit: Leftovers.
Sunday: Daylight Savings Time Ends! And time to create another meal plan. Fingers crossed that I can stick with this one.  :)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Somebody Please Stop Time, So That I Can Catch Up

You may have noticed, I haven't been blogging much lately. (And if you haven't noticed, please don't tell me, you'll hurt my feelings.) It's been a month since I've posted anything at all, and two months since I posted anything much more than food/menu planning stuff. It's not that I haven't had anything to say, it's just that I haven't been able to figure out how to make time to write it. Don't know how to get back in the swing of things, but for now, this'll have to do. :)

Jake turned 5 last month. He had his last day of preschool a couple of weeks ago. And today he started Kindergarten. I realize in the grand scheme of things, this isn't really a big deal. Another birthday, another transition- he'll have many more of each. But for some reason, it feels like a pretty big deal. This is "real" school- no turning back now.

This was what Jake decided to wear to his preschool graduation. He might have been slightly overdressed, but man, what a cute kid.

And here is Jake, ready for school this morning. I'll spare you the later pictures of him, crying and clinging to mommy. Luckily, I was able to turn away so that he couldn't see my watery eyes (there were no pictures of that).

At the end of the day, he was smiling again and even said that he "sorta" liked it. My baby's growing up. One day down, 12-16 or more YEARS to go. Maybe I won't tell HIM that, just yet. I think I might just go cry myself to sleep now.

For posterity, here's Jake's account of the first day of school:
-Lined up, went to class. ("I cried a little in the morning. It was a new school and I was missing my old school. Some other kids cried a little, too.")
-Circle time- the teacher read The Kissing Hand and the kids put their nametags around their neck. Then they split into small groups to go through stations: Coloring and cutting out Chester the Raccoon from The Kissing Hand, Playdough (Jake made "a burrito and some spaghetti"), Making handprints with a heart-shaped sticker in the middle (their own kissing hand), and Reading books on your own.
-Snack time outside (Jake ate freeze dried strawberries), followed by a little play time on the small yard.
-Returned to class, another circle time. That may have been when Jake's teacher did a puppet show about Curious George and how he learns to "clean up his space." Or when the second teacher read It's Okay to Be Different. Or when the music teacher taught them about quarter notes and "one" notes (Jake sang "one" in different pitches for this. I have a feeling there was more to this, but the story got a little fuzzy around here.)
-Lunch happened sometime, too. Jake ate his goldfish. (Hey, I packed a sandwich and other things, but yes, that was all he ate for lunch.) Then more playtime on the small yard. Overall, I think he had a pretty good day. We'll see how tomorrow goes!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Menu Planning for the Week

Last week was supposed to be a recovery period for me, after the crazy busy week before. Instead, I used the week for a preschool clean up day, working, a parent-teacher conference, a fundraising meeting, a treasury meeting, more working including consulting at monthly clinic, Jake's 5-year check up, a quick speech screening for Jake, swim class that was cancelled after we were already at the gym (somebody pooped in the pool- not my kid!), more working, and dentist appointments for Chris and me. Not much time to rest and relax. And sadly, I didn't manage to squeeze in any exercise, either. Part of the problem was that I had meetings and appointments during all of my regular exercise times. And the other part was that my normal workout buddy was out of town, so I wasn't motivated to make exercise a priority. But this week is a new week, so I'm going to try to get back into the routine.

Breakfasts: Chris has been awesome to finally eat up almost all of the cereal in the house. Which apparently motivated him to buy two more boxes. And I have some granola that I need to finish off in order to do my part. I think I saw some frozen waffles that Chris also bought (yep, he did some grocery shopping- such a helpful guy!), so we'll be eating those, too.

Lunches: I'll have to work to generate some leftovers for lunches this week. It's been a bit of a stretch the last two weeks as I haven't been making meals quite as regularly as I was in previous weeks.

  • Dinner: Pizzas from Fresh N Easy
  • Exercise: Pilates
  • Dinner: Grilled steak, corn on the cob
  • Dinner: Leftovers
Thursday: Jake's birthday!
  • Dinner: I need to talk to the birthday boy- we've invited friends over, so Jake and I will need to sit down and have a little menu planning session. Will report back later. :)
  • Exercise: Kickboxing

Monday, August 2, 2010

Food Waste Friday... Three Days Late

It's Food Waste Friday (err, Monday, see The Frugal Girl for my inspiration), which means that it's time to post a picture of all of the food that I am throwing away this week. It's an effort to hold myself accountable for the food that I have wasted (while attempting to save money and do something better for the environment). View my first post on this topic to learn why this is important to me.
Turns out, I don't actually like the Cascadian Farms brand of raisin bran. I much prefer the good ol' fashioned Kellogg's Raisin Bran (two scoops!). I don't remember why- it was too bran-ny, not enough sugar on the raisins, or something like that, probably. All I know is, I got it, I tried one bowl, and I had a hard time making myself eat it again. I tried to pass it along to Chris, but even he didn't really want to eat it. So, it sat and it sat and it sat. And nobody ate it. And then Chris just tried a bite tonight and declared it inedible- soft, stale. Time to go! The good news, though, is that we did get through several other boxes of cereal without having to throw them out. We're now down to one box of granola with chocolate- what's not to like?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Meal and Exercise Plan

I am not doing very well with sticking to my exercise plan. For the last couple of weeks, I have made it to only two out of the three classes at the gym, and haven't really been doing any walking or other exercise. And I'm not quite sure how to find the time to do more since I have been picking up more hours at work, in addition to my other commitments which are currently cutting into my "free" time (as if there is such a thing when you have kids). I'm not complaining, I'm just wondering if it's realistic to think that I will do some physical activity every day. Or maybe I should just really make sure that I make it to at least three classes at the gym each week and not worry about anything more than that. I'm gonna have to think on that one a little more. For now, I'll stick with my original plan and see if I do any better this week.

Breakfasts: CEREAL- we're not making much progress here. I bought frozen waffles last week because they were on sale, but was going to store them for another week until we got through some of the cereal first. But then I forgot to bring them in from the car, and they defrosted. I didn't want to refreeze them, so they were put in the fridge and had to be eaten sooner. But this week is the week that we're really going to eat cereal. I mean it.

Lunches: Leftovers.

  • Dinner: Shepherd's Pie (I have a frozen one from Trader Joe's that I think should finally get eaten) and canned pears (yep, still clearing out the pantry)
  • Exercise/outdoor time: Walk (mid-day)
  • Dinner: Fusilli alla Caprese with chicken breast strips from the freezer and canned corn (I have the corn and fusilli pasta in the cabinet)
  • Exercise/outdoor time: Spin class
  • Dinner: Leftovers
  • Exercise/outdoor time: Walk (evening)
  • Dinner: Potato latkes (again, from the freezer) and feta, basil and cherry tomato omlettes
  • Exercise/outdoor time: Kickboxing class
  • Dinner: Out somewhere, anywhere. I have class all day, and will again tomorrow. No cooking for me.
  • Exercise/outdoor time: Walk (mid-day)
  • Dinner: Steak and fresh veggies- whatever I find that looks good at the store. Celebrating finishing what will be a long, busy week.
  • Exercise/outdoor time: Walk (evening)
  • Dinner: Leftovers
  • Exercise/outdoor time: Pilates

Friday, July 23, 2010


I had a bunch of parsley that I needed to use up, so I looked online to find a good recipe. Parsley salad? Yuck. Couscous? Not for me. But I did find this recipe for Pastetli (which is a Swiss meat pie) that sounded interesting. I mean, the actual recipe is a bit confusing (some mushrooms, some white wine, some brown gravy mix? Just how much is some? Oh, I see later on, 1-2 (to) dl of wine. How much is a dl again? I don't do metric. And the recipe ends with "Set everything aside to finish the rest of the meal." Um, what? How do I finish it when you just ended the instructions right there?). Apparently, the recipe was provided by someone's mother-in-law who is Swiss and did the translating (from what language, I'm not sure. What do they speak in Switzerland? German? French? Italian? Romansh?). So, I used the "recipe" as a starting point, and modified it to work with what I had in the house. Puff pastry? No, of course not, but I did have a package of Pillsbury crescent rolls in the fridge that expired recently. Time to use it up before I have to log it as food waste! Anyhow, dinner turned out pretty well, so here's my version:

Pastetli (Makes 5 servings, 7 WW points each)
  • 1/2 bunch of fresh parsley (I used almost a whole bunch and it was too much. But my parsley wasn't as fresh as it should have been, so you may want to use more than 1/2)
  • 2 cups of mushrooms
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • poultry seasoning (or paprika and garlic powder)
  • black pepper
  • 1 small onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic (I like garlic and don't believe there is such a thing as too much)
  • 1 package of brown gravy mix
  • 1 cup of water for the gravy mix (or white wine or half and half)
  • 1 package of Pillsbury crescent rolls (or similar)
-Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

-Chop the parsley leaves (try not to get too many stems). Dice the mushrooms. Place parsley and mushrooms in a small bowl, add the juice from one lemon, stir and set aside.

-Dice the raw chicken breasts. Season with poultry seasoning and black pepper. Place in skillet with onion and garlic. Cook until lightly browned on all sides.

-Make brown gravy mix according to the directions. Or substitute white wine for water if desired, or half and half if you want a richer creamier taste. (I just used water.) Add gravy to the chicken mixture, and add parsley/mushroom mixture. Stir to combine everything.

-Unroll crescent roll dough into one large rectangle on an ungreased cookie sheet. Press into a 13x8 inch rectangle, firmly pressing the perforations and seams to seal (or you could actually buy the seamless dough sheet. Yes, they do make such a thing, who knew?).

-(Okay, confession: this part I didn't really do. I tried to make these into 5 little rolled up chicken things, and although they tasted good, it really wasn't pretty. There's a reason why there's no picture posted with this recipe. So here's what I would do if I made this recipe again.) With the long side of the rectangle placed vertically, spoon the chicken mixture into a 4-inch-wide strip down the center of rectangle. With scissors or sharp knife, make cuts 1 inch apart on long sides of dough rectangle to within 1/2 inch of chicken mixture. Fold strips of dough up over chicken mixture to meet in center; pinch to seal. (To make it even fancier, you can kinda criss-cross the strips of dough, and let the chicken mixture peek out the top. Totally up to you.)

-Bake 18 to 24 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from cookie sheet; cut into crosswise slices. Serve warm. Apparently, peas are a traditional side dish with pastetli. We just heated up some frozen mixed veggies. Yum!

Food Waste Friday... Almost Perfect

It's Food Waste Friday (see The Frugal Girl for my inspiration), which means that it's time to post a picture of all of the food that I am throwing away this week. It's an effort to hold myself accountable for the food that I have wasted (while attempting to save money and do something better for the environment). View my first post on this topic to learn why this is important to me.
I was all set this morning to post about what a terrific job I did this week managing to have zero food waste, two weeks in a row! And I did do a terrific job using up the leftovers, celery, parsley, kalamata olives, and I've already forgotten what else, but it turns out it wasn't zero waste. But then I opened up the cabinet where we store Brody's baby food (which I actually don't use much since at 16-months old he eats almost anything now. Nice to have at least one kid who's not a super picky eater.). And I found tons of little black ants crawling everywhere. Ants, yuck! (You can kinda see them in the picture if you look closely and maybe squint.) So, I threw out all of the open snack-type foods. There really wasn't much, just banana crackers, some rice cereal (which he hasn't eaten in so long that he probably wasn't going to finish it anyhow), some teething biscuits, mini freeze dried fruits. Most everything was close to being finished already, so I am sorry to have to waste it, but it wasn't a lot, and not things that he's excited about eating anymore. But the good news is, finding the ants reminded me that I do still have some jars of baby food in the cabinet (sealed, of course, so totally ant-free). I guess I'll feed them to Brody, even though he hasn't had any baby food in quite a long time. But he does like feeding himself with a spoon, so I'm sure he'll enjoy them. Or at least have fun making a mess while trying.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Meal and Exercise Plan... Lotsa Leftovers and the Things I Didn't Make Last Week

Last week, I didn't get to make everything that I had planned. Mostly for good reason, as I wanted to use up stuff that we had (and finally had a week with no food waste!). So, this week is all about making the stuff I planned to make last week, to use up stuff in the freezer and fridge.

Breakfasts: CEREAL (really!), yogurt, muffins we made over the weekend
Lunches: Leftovers. And Chris is going to be eating a lot of celery and peanut butter, otherwise we're never gonna finish off the celery.

  • Dinner: Leftover Chicken Salad on a bed of Romaine, Corn on the Cob
  • Exercise/outdoor time: Walk (mid-day)
  • Dinner: Leftovers, again! (Chili and cornbread muffins)
  • Exercise/outdoor time: Spin class
  • Dinner: I'm modifying this recipe for Pastetli Pie to use up some crescent rolls and the parsley from last week. I have no idea if it'll be good, but I'm going to give it a try!
  • Exercise/outdoor time: Walk (evening)
  • Dinner: Chris and I have a meeting, and then are going to take advantage of having a babysitter by going out to dinner together.
  • Exercise/outdoor time: Kickboxing class
  • Dinner: Peppery Potato Soup with homemade biscuits We had some FANTASTIC friends offer to watch the boys, so Chris and I got to go out AGAIN! FUN!
  • Exercise/outdoor time: Walk (mid-day)
  • Dinner: Simply Delicious Pork (pork chops with apples made in the crock pot) and frozen veggies I used up some chicken breasts, potatoes, mushrooms, and a teriyaki marinade that's been in the fridge. Baked them all together, and it made for a pretty delicious meal.
  • Exercise/outdoor time: Yoga or Farmer's Market
  • Dinner: Leftovers Bumped from yesterday: Simply Delicious Pork (pork chops with apples made in the crock pot) and fresh steamed broccoli
  • Exercise/outdoor time: Pilates Beach

Friday, July 16, 2010

Food Waste Friday... The Very First Perfect Week!!!

It's Food Waste Friday (see The Frugal Girl for my inspiration), which means that it's time to post all of the food that I am throwing away this week. It's an effort to hold myself accountable for the food that I have wasted (while attempting to save money and do something better for the environment). View my first post on this topic to learn why this is important.

Finally! No picture this week because no food waste! I don't think we did anything amazing this week to achieve this, but I have been packing some oddities in Chris's lunch lately to make sure that we get through everything. A not-so-fresh nectarine (I told Chris those should have been stored in the fridge), a big container of yogurt, a whole lot of celery (with peanut butter for dipping). The other day involved a small side of peas, which he initally considered rejecting. Instead, he ate them (cold) and reported they were actually quite tasty, to his surprise. Which makes me happy, because now I have a story to tell my five-year old Jake, the next time he tells me he doesn't like something before even taking a bite. "You do not like them. So you say. Try them! Try them! And you may. Try them and you may, I say." Okay, even that might not convince Jake to try green eggs and ham, but maybe a hotdog?

Just to be fair, packing things in Chris's lunch is not my only strategy for avoiding food waste. I also personally ate some strawberries that were starting to wither (not moldy, though), and tried to eat up other stuff. But mostly, I'm doing a better job of figuring out how to menu plan, be creative with foods, use up stuff that we have, and be flexible about meals. For example, I realized that I could hold off on cooking the pork chops with green apples, since those would keep a bit longer, and instead used up the red grapes and some of the celery in a yummy chicken salad.

Meanwhile, we have some serious work to do in order to get through everything else. Lots of parsley, celery, green grapes. (Perhaps the green stuff is less likely to get eaten? Or we just buy a lot of green foods?) I need to start menu planning for next week...

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Peanut Butter Cookies

I am reposting this recipe from Premeditated Leftovers because it's about the simplest dessert I could imagine. Cookies made with things I always have on hand- quick, easy, and they turned out yummy.

3 Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup peanut butter (smooth or chunky)
  • We added a handful of milk chocolate chips to about half the cookies, although I realize this totally destroys the 3-ingredient name
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease the cookie sheets.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients together until they are well blended.
3. Drop Tablespoon size balls on to the cookie sheet. Flatten the cookie dough with a fork.
4. Bake for 12 – 14 minutes or until golden brown. Place cookie sheet on a cooling rack for several minutes, then remove the cookies and let them finish cooling on the cookie rack. Makes 2 dozen.

Oh, and by the way, I used reduced fat Jif creamy peanut butter since that's what we happened to have in the cupboard. And  I really couldn't tell the difference, so I would call that a success!

Meal and Exercise Plan... Staying on Track

So, I've already mentioned (several times) that we went away for the long 4th of July holiday weekend. We left last Thursday night, and came back late Monday night. And those four days were a big part of the reason that I gained back 7 pounds over a week and a half. Seriously, SEVEN pounds. However, in the last four days that we've been home, I already lost four of those pounds. I don't think that's normal how my weight can fluctuate so much.

Anyhow, my point is, while I don't want to be obsessive about my weight, I also don't want to regain everything that I worked so hard to lose. So, I realize that I need to pay attention. And we can't eat out so often. Or eat my mom's delicious cooking too often. I'm not too worried about the type of food that I'll cook, just so long as I am cooking at home and eating reasonable portion sizes.

So, this week's focus in still on using up stuff in the freezer and fridge. (I'm happy to say that there's really not that much left.) And I've decided to combine that with some slow cooker recipes my mom found.

Breakfasts: CEREAL (we have six open boxes, it's time to get through some of them!), yogurt, fresh fruit (peaches, strawberries, plums, grapes, pineapple, apples), cherry chocolate chip bread from the Farmer's Market, banana nut bread

Lunches: leftovers, fresh fruit

  • Dinner: Herbed Artichoke Chicken with corn on the cob with rice (something needed to soak up all the sauce)
  • Exercise/outdoor time: Walk (mid-day)
  • Dinner: Simply Delicious Pork (pork chops with apples made in the crock pot) and frozen veggies I used the leftover meatballs (and vodka marinara) from last week, along with half a box of uncooked mini penne to make a nice little pasta dish.
  • Exercise/outdoor time: Spin class
  • Dinner: Peppery Potato Soup with homemade biscuits and a green salad We ended up going to a last-minute meeting and just grabbed some fast food on the way home instead.
  • Exercise/outdoor time: Walk (evening)
  • Dinner: Leftovers Chicken Salad sandwiches on thin rolls (I bought some chicken super cheap, and originally planned to make this for lunch, but then decided it would be yummy for dinner and we'd just continue to have leftovers for lunches.)
  • Exercise/outdoor time: Kickboxing class
  • Dinner: Chicken and Black Bean Quesadillas I decided to modify slightly since Chris's parents are here, and turn it into Chicken Burritos with pico de gallo, Spanish rice, beans, guacamole (The last time I made this meat for tacos, it was so delicious! Oh, and I found some really great tortillas at Whole Foods by Tortillaland (yellow bag, refrigerator section). They're uncooked flour tortillas, that you just heat up for a minute in a frying pan. Yum!)
  • Exercise/outdoor time: Walk (mid-day), probably to the grocery store and/or Trader Joe's Cleaning- fast and furious, that counts for exercise, right? It was super hot here, so I was sweating!
  • Dinner: Chris and I are going out while his parents watch the kids :)
  • Exercise/outdoor time: Yoga? Farmer's Market? Beach clean up? Not sure what the plans are yet. Park, walking
  • Dinner: Crowd Pleasing Chili with cornbread and a salad
  • Exercise/outdoor time: Pilates I forgot pilates class! I guess that's what happens when I stay out too late the night before. :) An evening walk with the family instead.

Friday, July 9, 2010

How to Make (Healthy and Delicious) Chicken Salad

So, I found yet another blog that I absolutely love. This one is called Life as MOM, and it's written by Jessica Getskow Fisher (a.k.a. FishMama), who is the mom of six kids ranging from about 1-13 years old. (BTW, her first FOUR kids are ALL BOYS, which is precisely the reason that I will not continue to have another kid just to "try for a girl.") What I love about her blog is that she posts several times a day, and has all kinds of useful advice for a mom like me. She is a big proponent of "freezer cooking"- i.e., making food ahead of time and storing it in the freezer for quick and easy meals (which makes a lot of sense if you're feeding eight people, three meals per day). She does batch cooking once a month, throws it in the freezer, and then has her entire menu planned for the month. She also "hosts" frequent recipe swaps on her blog, most recently with recipes for cool foods.

So, from the cool foods recipe swap, I came across a blog from Anne at Quick & Easy, Cheap & Healthy. She shared how she makes a delicious chicken salad using yogurt instead of mayo, and various other ingredients depending on her tastes and what she has on hand at the time. Which means, it's a totally adaptable recipe that anyone can make, and the possibilities are practically endless.

Anyhow, here's Anne's recipe: She has the same "starters" every time: chicken (cubed or shredded, could be substituted with turkey, tuna, or hard boiled eggs), plain yogurt, dill relish (or small finely chopped pickle), and occasionally a splash or two of ranch dressing.
After those main ingredients, here's some possibilities that can be added in:
*dried cranberries or raisins
*chopped or grated apples
*grated zucchini
*shredded or finely diced carrot
*walnuts, almonds or other nuts
*pumpkin or other seeds
*sweet peas
*fresh or dried herbs (parsley, basil, dill weed, etc.)
*spices (garlic salt, freshly ground pepper, etc.)
*possible toppings: lettuce, avocado, red onion, cheese, pickles
*can be served on lettuce, pita, sandwich bread, flat bread, as a wrap, with crackers

Chicken salad is one of my favorite things, but I've never made it before in my life. I'm not sure why- probably partially because I figured it wasn't very healthy for me, and partially because I didn't have a good recipe. But after reading Anne's blog, I figured I'd give it a try. So, here's a recipe for the chicken salad that I made.

Christy's Chicken Salad:
  • 2 cooked chicken breasts, cut into chunks (I used leftovers from the night before that I had marinated in Italian dressing and then grilled)
  • 4 ounces of vanilla yogurt (I would have used plain, but that's what was in the fridge. And it turned out to be really yummy)
  • Montreal chicken seasoning, reduced sodium (I use a lot of this seasoning- yum! But it's mostly a combo of garlic, onion, pepper and paprika)
  • Dill weed
  • Red grapes, halved
  • Dried cranberries
  • Roasted almonds, chopped (I would have used slivered, but again, this is what was on hand)
Of course, I should have taken a picture, but instead Chris and I just ate it all up before that occurred to me. But it was quite pretty with the colorful grapes and cranberries. And tasty!

What do you like in your chicken salad?

Grown Up Weekend

Last weekend was fantastic. We drove to Phoenix with both kids in the car, leaving late so that they would hopefully both sleep in the car. It only half worked, and we got there totally exhausted, at 3:30am. Not sounding fantastic so far? We spent a good portion of the weekend helping my parents to clean out their fridge and pantry, and packing up everything in their kitchen cabinets to get ready for their kitchen remodel which began this week. Still not sounding fantastic? Oh, and did I mention that it was about 113 degrees in Phoenix?

But, when I say that the weekend was fantastic, I am not being sarcastic. Because, there was a part in the middle where we left the boys with my parents, and Chris and I had about 28 hours (but hey, who's counting?) all to ourselves. A Grown Up Weekend, as in, grown-ups only (no kids allowed).

Boy, do I love my kids. They are freaking adorable and hilarious, and my life is so much richer because they are a part of it. And I can say that now because I got to have some time to myself where I didn't worry about them at all. And honestly, I didn't miss them one bit.

Toward the end of last week, before we headed to Phoenix, I was hitting melt down mode. The kids were trying my patience at almost every single moment. I was yelling, threatening, giving time outs, and all of those things that I hate doing with my kids because I was at the end of my rope. But I didn't know what else to do.

So, we got to Phoenix, and Chris and I BOTH slept in while my mom watched the boys. Then we went to a movie that night after putting the boys down to bed. The next morning, we left my parents' house and Chris and I both got massages. Finally, I was relaxing. We ate lunch at a restaurant without a kid's menu. We drank champagne in the middle of the day. I took a bath. We went out to dinner and a baseball game, without wondering how long the kids would be able to sit still. We watched fireworks without having to cover the kids' ears. We stayed up late listening to a live band, without worrying about having to wake up with the kids the next morning. We slept in a dark hotel room until 10am. We went out to another restaurant that didn't serve chicken nuggets. And when we saw the boys again, I was able to actually enjoy being with them. We played together in the pool. Oh, and I got to see another movie after they went to bed that night, too.

It's almost enough to make me want to move back to Arizona, to be closer to our families. Not just for the free childcare, although it really came at a time that I needed it the most. But also getting to see how much the boys love being around all of their family, it's a really special thing. And we are lucky to live close enough that we see each other frequently, but even once every month or two can be a long wait in between.

Can someone just move Phoenix a little closer to Los Angeles?

Food Waste Friday- How Do You Use Up Your Condiments?

It's Food Waste Friday (see The Frugal Girl for my inspiration), which means that it's time to post all of the food that I am throwing away this week. It's an effort to hold myself accountable for the food that I have wasted (while attempting to save money and do something better for the environment). See my first post on this topic to learn why this is important.

I could have had a perfect week, if I had chosen to ignore the condiments. But, as I spent last weekend helping to clear out my parents' fridge and pantry, and noticing how very long ago some of their stuff had expired, of course I had to check my own fridge. The worst offender: mustard that expired in 2008. Is it really bad? I don't know, but that was two years ago, so I think it's time to get rid of it. My problem is that we don't use a lot of condiments, so when I need a little something for a recipe, I'll buy the smallest/cheapest package, but we still can't get through them in time.

How do you use up all of your condiments before they've gone bad? Do you continue to use things that are past their expiration date? How far past?

Monday, July 5, 2010

Meal and Exercise Plan... Using Up the Stuff in the Fridge/Freezer/Cabinets

We were out of town for the holiday weekend, so I'm picking up the menu and exercise planning a little late this week. But last week, I made it to all three of my scheduled classes at the gym! Yay, now on to the harder part: continuing with the schedule.

This week, I am trying to focus on using up the stuff that we have in the house already. Not the stuff that goes bad quickly, but the stuff that lingers around here forever. (If you saw my Food Waste post on Friday, you know just how long things can linger around here.) My family that I was visiting over the weekend will think that this was inspired by them, as we spent a good chunk of time cleaning out the fridge, freezer, cabinets and pantry at my parents' place to prepare for their kitchen remodel that starts this week. But I swear, this post was already planned before that. (Although, I will say, finding spices in the pantry that expired in 1990 did remind me of just how old I am. That was 20 years ago!) Anyhow, here's the plan for this week:

Breakfasts: yogurt, granola, fresh fruit

Lunches: leftovers, fresh fruit

  • Dinner: Grilled chicken and Trader Joe's Organic Radiatore Pasta with Vodka Sauce frozen veggie mixture
  • Exercise/outdoor time: Walking (Farmer's Market?) None. I have a hard time working it in on the days that I work.
  • Dinner: Leftovers (chicken and salad?) Chicken salad made with extra chicken from last night.
  • Exercise/outdoor time: Kickboxing class
  • Dinner: Tito's Tacos- since it didn't happen the other week
  • Exercise/outdoor time: Walking House cleaning, does that count? I did it quickly enough to work up a little sweat. :)
  • Dinner: Meatball sandwiches with Sweet Potato Fries
  • Exercise/outdoor time: Yoga? Farmer's Market
  • Dinner: Dinner out somewhere with my sweetie (we have a babysitter!)
  • Exercise/outdoor time: Pilates, playdate at the park

Friday, July 2, 2010

Food Waste Friday... But I'm Not Taking the Blame for the Milk

It's Food Waste Friday (see The Frugal Girl for my inspiration), which means that it's time to post all of the food that I am throwing away this week. It's an effort to hold myself accountable for the food that I have wasted (while attempting to save money and do something better for the environment). See my first post on this topic to learn why this is important.

This is bad... I thought we had a close-to-perfect week. And then I found these three steaks in the back of the freezer. They're from Dream Dinners, which is a place where you can go and do your meal prep, and take home some delicious, easy to put together meals. The problem is, I haven't been there in a very long time. If you look closely, the label says May 2007. Yes, those steaks have been in my freezer for MORE THAN THREE YEARS. They're well-sealed, but that just seems waaaaay to old. (Actually, this reminds me of an argument with a former roommate about when meat goes bad in the freezer. I don't remember how long it takes, but I know it was far less than three years.)

We almost wasted an avocado. Despite the fact that I am mildly allergic to them, and Jake refuses to eat them, and Brody only likes to mush them between his fingers, I bought one to serve with chicken tacos last week. I thought we were going to have guests in town, and it would be a nice addition. When I turned out to be just us, I honestly forgot about the avocado. Until I noticed it a couple of days later, and realized that it was extra, extra ripe. At that point, I was going to give it away, and had put it next to Jake's lunchbox so that we could bring it to school and ask which family wanted it. But then Jake noticed the avocado, and decided to play catch with it. Which I noticed after he dropped it (loudly) onto the floor. Figuring a slightly bruised avocado would still be okay to give away, I told him to put it back where he found it. Which I don't think he did, because a little while later, I found the same avocado in Brody's hands, along with some holes where he poked his fingers through the skin. That, I figured, would not be okay to give away, so instead it got packed in Chris's lunch to take with him to work. Yep, plain avocado, scooped out with a spoon. At least it didn't get wasted.

I did however dump some 2% milk down the drain. It still had three days left before the "Use By" date, but it was starting to look curdled and I am told that it didn't smell good. (Not being a big fan of milk myself, the idea of smelling possibly sour milk makes me nauseous, so I made Chris smell it instead. If Chris says it's bad, then it's definitely bad.) So, I wasted some milk. Sorry, cows, but I'm blaming the people stamping the "Use By" dates on the cartons.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Green Salad with Sweet and Tangy Dressing

I made salad dressing! And, I liked it! Actually, the dressing wasn't anything fancy, since I picked a recipe that I could make with ingredients that I already had in the house. (In the future, I think I might try out a poppy seed dressing, but I honestly don't even know where in a grocery store you find poppy seeds. With the spices?)

Here's the salad that I made, which was modified from one I found on

Green Salad with Sweet and Tangy Dressing
(approximately 4 Weight Watchers points per serving)
  • Lettuce: I used a mixture of baby spinach and romaine
  • Feta cheese
  • Grape Tomatoes (these were just for Chris- I don't eat raw tomatoes)
  • Other good additions/substitutions for next time would be dried cranberries or crumbled bacon
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons red wine or balsamic vinegar (I used red wine vinegar)
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream (I used light)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • You can add fresh herbs, grated Parmesan or freshly ground pepper if you like
Combine salad dressing ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake well to combine, then drizzle over salad. Unused dressing can be stored in the fridge for about a week or so.

By the way, here's my jar with a tightly fitting lid. A baby bottle. Hmm, maybe I could invest in an actual salad dressing bottle someday, so that it would look more like the picture at the top.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Meal and Exercise Plan... Trying to Make it Back to the Gym

I don't know if this helps anyone else, but since it helps me, I'm continuing with the weekly menu and exercise plan. If you want to see how close I keep to my plan, you can just check back on the previous posts here or here. I've crossed out anything that I didn't follow through with, and added what I did instead. Yes, there's a lot that gets crossed out. Especially the exercise parts. I really do want to get better use out of my gym membership, but making it there always seems to be the lowest priority. I'll keep trying...

In case you were wondering, we eat a lot of leftovers because I tend to follow recipes as written, which generally yields at least six to eight servings. Chris and I only eat two of those servings at a time, Jake rarely eats more than a bite, and Brody only eats a small portion of my meal. So, that leaves lots of leftovers- not just for lunches, but also for a second dinner most of the time. I'm still not a huge fan of having leftovers for dinner (although I do enjoy it at lunchtime). But I am a big fan of not having to shop quite as often, or cook every single night, so leftovers it is.

Oh, and I still have more crock pot recipes to try out, so more of those this week.

Breakfasts: cereal, yogurt, granola, fresh fruit (red grapes, plums, yellow cherries, strawberries, bananas). I also want to try more recipes from a preschool cookbook we borrowed from the library, Pretend Soup and Other Real Recipes, especially Hide N Seek Muffins (with a strawberry in the middle), and maybe those blueberry pancakes that I didn't get to last week (if I pick up some more blueberries).We've already tried a few of the other recipes in this book, and I highly recommend it if you have young ones that like to cook with you. It's got the recipes written out, but then also a picture version for the kids to follow. Super cute, and fun.

Lunches: leftovers, fresh fruit


  • Dinner: Pork chops, baby red potatoes, green salad
  • Exercise/outdoor time: Yoga class Swimming
  • Dinner: Spaghetti with Puttanesca Sauce, whole wheat french bread and a side salad (spinach mixture, feta, dried cranberries)
  • Exercise/outdoor time: Pilates class (we also went to the park and I did some gardening)
  • Dinner: Chris will be at work, I'll be eating leftovers
  • Exercise/outdoor time: Walking None :(
  • Dinner: Leftovers
  • Exercise/outdoor time: Spin class
  • Dinner: leftovers Chipotle in the car on our way to Phoenix
  • Exercise/outdoor time: Kickboxing class
  • Dinner: leftovers Mom's spaghetti- YUM!
  • Exercise/outdoor time: Walking None :(  But does it count that I was still sore from kickboxing?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Food Waste Friday... It Could Have Been Worse

It's Food Waste Friday (see The Frugal Girl for my inspiration), which means that it's time to post all of the food that I am throwing away this week. It's an effort to hold myself accountable for the food that I have wasted (while attempting to save money and do something better for the environment). See my first post on this topic to learn why this is important.

This week, not so bad. Sorry that the picture's not great- I know some people are able to take fantastic high-quality pictures with their iPhone, but I am not one of them. (In related news, I have some photography books on hold at the library that I need to pick up- maybe I'll finally teach myself something about how to take a decent picture.) Anyhow, there's some green leafy stuff from the Farmer's Market that we just weren't able to use up before it wilted. In my defense, it's not as much as it looks like. And, I was totally planning to use those green onions but when I went to do so, they were soggy and floppy. Yuck. Oh, and I didn't get a picture of the two slices of moldy Swiss cheese. I don't even like Swiss cheese- double yuck.

But I am proud of myself because it could have been much worse. I used up all the basil we got from the Farmer's Market last week and made fresh pesto, and I used the stale sourdough bread (also from the Farmer's Market) to make seasoned croutons. I almost feel like a real chef. :)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

If Fiber Makes You Gassy, Please Keep It To Yourself

I was reading the latest post from the Creative Junkie (Andrea Chamberlain), who recently lost 40 pounds while on Weight Watchers. Which inspired me to write about some of the things that I  have been eating that have helped me lose 25 pounds (slightly less remarkable than her total, but still no tiny feat).

I should make a disclaimer first. To be honest, my weight loss wasn't really so much about what I ate, but more about what I DIDN'T eat. What I mean to say is, of course I (mostly) cut out the obvious high-calorie, not so healthy stuff like potato ships, ice cream, soda, and baked goods. And I tried to cook at home, making healthier meals with more vegetables and fruit. But mostly, I ate real food while maintaining some serious portion control (i.e. staying within my allotted Weight Watchers points).

With that being said, I know I have been posting recipes for meals here, but I think it might be helpful to list some of the snacks I have been eating while trying to lose weight. Oh, and don't expect me to be half as funny as the above-referenced post; Andrea is inappropriate and totally hilarious. But, here goes.

First, I did not drink a butt-load of water, as so many others profess to do when dieting. (By the way, I still dislike the idea of dieting, or at least calling it a diet. But, having spent the last three months on Weight Watchers and trying to live on only 19-21 points per day (my allotment went down as I lost weight), I must admit that I was sometimes hungry, and I cannot deny that I was dieting. But, as usual, I digress.) I realize that water is a healthy drink, and for some people, it may help them to feel less hungry. For me, it just helps me to feel bloated, which is not a pleasant state to be in. Besides, if you read this article, it talks about a review published in the American Journal of Physiology that found no evidence that people need to drink the often-recommended eight glasses of water per day. In fact, it dispels several myths, like "by the time you're thirsty, you're already dehydrated," "dark urine means dehydration," and "coffee, tea and soda don't count towards your hydration requirement." None of those appears to be true. Realistically, my 19-point daily allotment didn't give me much room to drink beverages with a points value. So yes, I cut out almost all other drinks besides water, and yes by default I ended up drinking slightly more water. But really, not so much.

I did, however, drink some diet drinks. I have always HATED diet soda and thought that if I had to resort to drinking diet, then it wouldn't be worth drinking soda at all. Which I still mostly agree with. But sometimes, you just need something other than water. Cue the Coca-Cola Zero Cherry. I think Coke Zero tastes the most like regular soda of any diet drink. No, it's not quite the same, and it tastes kind of flat in comparison. But the cherry flavor is the most drinkable diet I have tasted. How's that for a half-hearted endorsement? More recently, I have also started drinking some of the Sobe Lifewater Zero drinks, and I am definitely not in love with them, but they don't have the same gross STRONG artificial sweetener taste that most diet drinks do. And hey, a zero points pick-me-up is sometimes just what one needs to get through the day.

Nabisco 100 calorie snacks Mr. Salty Milk Chocolate Covered Pretzels. A delicious mix of sweet and salty, each of the 6 packs per box gives you just enough pretzels to satisfy the snacking urge. For just two Weight Watchers points, I get a delicious afternoon pick-me-up to keep me from turning into a starving, angry bitch before dinner. But they're apparently not for everyone, since Jake (who loves both pretzels and chocolate) won't touch them. Yay, more for me!

Reduced Fat Wheat Thins (Original, French Onion, or Garlic and Herbs). Are they as good as the regular ones? I have no idea. As far as I'm concerned, crackers are just a crunchy vessel for things that you want to dip them in- egg salad, soup, hummus. These ones taste fine, and you get 16 crackers for just two points.

Fiber One Bars Oats and Chocolate. The way that Weight Watchers calculates points involves some formula that takes into account the number of calories and grams of fat (more = more points), and the grams of fiber (more fiber = less points). No, the Fiber One bars aren't so yummy that I would eat them if I wasn't dieting, but at just two points each, they could fill me up for awhile. And for someone that never used to eat breakfast at all, they made an okay morning meal that I didn't get tired of eating everyday. Along the same line of adding more fiber to my diet, I found that it was super easy to switch to whole grain pasta and brown rice instead of white. Add more fiber, fill up your tummy, and bring down the Weight Watchers points values. It's win-win-win. But if too much fiber makes you gassy, then I can't help you there. Maybe not a win for everyone, after all.

Watchers Ice Cream Candy Bar. I suppose they can't call these Snickers bars for obvious reasons, but it's pretty much what they are. Made with a reduced fat ice cream substitute, of course, but so yummy that I could eat several a day. However, since they are three Weight Watchers points each (and not cheap, by the way), I can't really eat several a day, however much I would like to. These are a snack that I would eat even when not dieting. Some people also swear by Skinny Cow desserts (single-serve ice creams, sandwiches, cones, bars), and I tried several of those. They were surprisingly better than I expected, but in my mind don't hold a candle to the Ice Cream Candy Bar.

Unfortunately, I have to report that I never did not find a magic salad dressing, i.e. a low-fat, low-calorie delicious concoction that would make lettuce actually taste good. Although I tried several light dressings from Newman's Own (Balsamic Vinaigrette, Italian), a couple of different fat-free ranch dressings, and even Salad Spritzers (which taste like very watered-down salad dressing), at best they were just tolerable. My tastes run towards a full-calorie ranch dressing, but since those can be five to seven points for a two-tablespoons serving, I may never eat ranch again. So, I'm still in search of the perfect salad dressing, although I currently have about seven imperfect options in the fridge.

Now, I realize that most of this stuff goes against the advice of Michael Pollan's Food Rules (read my previous post for a review of sorts). Diet soda, reduced-fat foods, and anything that is artificially sweetened would be hard pressed to be counted as a "real food." Yes, I should be increasing the amount of fresh fruits and veggies in my diet, and I have. Significantly. In fact, one of my most frequent snacks was five baby carrots and/or a quarter of an apple at a time (which is the most you can eat and still count it as zero points. Cheating? Maybe.) But it's hard to change my junk food-loving ways. Baby steps.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

I may just be taking myself too seriously

I borrowed a book from the library, Blogging for Dummies, just to see what I could learn. No, I don't kid myself into thinking I could make a career out of this blogging thing. But I do find it amazing the wide array of crazy things you can borrow (for free!) from the library at any given time (in addition to the blogging book, I currently have at home a crock pot cookbook, Spanish cd's, preschooler books and many more). So I spontaneously grabbed this one off the shelf last week.

Anyhow, skimming the book didn't teach me a whole lot, but I did finally figure out how I could allow readers to sign up to have an email sent to their inbox when I post new content. You know, for those of you who feel that subscribing to a reader is useless because you still have to check there. I added it to the sidebar, but just in case that's not obvious enough, you can also click here: Subscribe to Time for a Change by Email.

Okay, enough of my self-promotion moment.

Again with the TMI

Those of you who read my previous post, Maybe Not Unthinkable, But Defnitely Unpleasant, know that I recently found out that it's time to strengthen my pelvic floor! In keeping with my full-disclosure policy so far, I figured I'd add one more thing to my "list" of stuff to fix. So, here it is.

My kegel exercise plan is to do a set of 10 (work up to holding each one for 10 seconds) when:
  • Brushing my teeth (standing up)
  • At red lights (sitting)
  • In bed, just before getting up in the morning and going to sleep at night (laying down)
Okay, now the hard part is sticking with it long enough to see some results...

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Weekly Meal and Exercise Plan...the Crock Pot Edition!

I think my menu and exercise planning last week did help with keeping me on target (or at least close), though I didn't stick with it as well as I had hoped. So I think I'll try it again... This week: using the crock pot!

Weekday Breakfasts: cereal, yogurt, granola, fresh fruit (cherries, white nectarines, yellow peaches, blueberries, apples) and whole wheat raisin bread from the Farmer's Market. If I'm feeling adventurous, we might make the bread into french toast one day, or maybe make blueberry pancakes.

Weekday Lunches: leftovers, fresh fruit

  • Dinner: leftovers
  • Exercise/outdoor time: Walking with the baby in the stroller- maybe we should head to the beach and walk along the jetty? Some sit-ups and push-ups at home. Better than nothing, right?

  • Dinner: leftovers
  • Exercise/outdoor time: Walking with the baby in the stroller More gardening. The front yard is looking much nicer. :)
  • Dinner: Pork Chops and Red Potatoes made in the crock pot I never made it to the grocery store to pick up Lipton soup mix for the pork chops, so instead I made a recipe that I was planning for next week: Chicken Tacos made in the crock pot, refried black beans, Spanish rice with black olives. Turned out to be really delicious.
  • Exercise/outdoor time: Kickboxing or Muscle Strength class, depending on what time I make it to the gym None, really, I was trying to get the house cleaned. :(
  • Lunch: Tito's Tacos! Leftover taco/burritos
  • Dinner: probably leftovers, depending on what's left Pork Chops and Red Potatoes made in the crock pot, with a green salad
  • Exercise/outdoor time: Yoga class
  • Exercise/outdoor time: Yoga class if I miss it on Saturday. Zoo tour? We should be getting the most out of our membership before it gets ridiculously hot this summer. Pilates class.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Turning Food Waste Into Cupcakes (Tastes Better Than It Sounds)

It's Food Waste Friday (see The Frugal Girl for my inspiration), which means that it's time to post all of the food that I am tossing for the week, in an effort to document and hold myself accountable for the food that I have wasted (while attempting to save money and do something better for the environment).

This week: 1) a small box of animal crackers that I found in the back of the cabinet (which is why they didn't get eaten; they were lost in there). I don't know how long they were there, but they were so soft that they fell apart when touched, so I'm guessing quite awhile; and 2) a half of a container of deli-style sliced chicken that I found in the back of the cheese drawer, which is why it didn't get eaten. And how I didn't notice before it became this moldy is kind of surprising since I have been clearing out my fridge weekly. I guess chicken doesn't last as long as I thought.

As for the impending frosting disaster? Crisis averted. I tried, as suggested, to use up the large amount of leftover frosting by spreading it on graham crackers for dessert. It was yummy, but we don't really have dessert that often, so we kind of forgot about it after eating it once. So, instead I decided to use Frugal Girl's chocolate cake recipe, once again, but made them into cupcakes this time (and a few mini-cupcakes, too). My thought was that we would save some for Father's Day, and Chris could bring the rest to work so that they would get eaten. However, I decided to make them without cupcake liners because a) we didn't have any, and b) I figured it was better for the environment, anyhow instead of wasting the (what I thought would be) unneccessary paper. So I greased up the muffin tins, baked them at a slightly lower temperature for a much shorter cooking time, and then let them sit in the pan after removing from the oven. But, the cupcakes still stuck to the bottom of the tin. So I pried as much of them as I could out of the muffin tins, and realized that the bottoms were so crumbly that they would fall apart if decorated as regular cupcakes. Instead, I turned them upside down and put the frosting on the bottom of each cupcake. And sprinkled a few chocolate chips on top. Not a pretty sight, but still very yummy.

I actually don't think the picture does the cupcakes justice for just how unattractive they are. You'll just have to trust me on this, I guess. Enough so that I would have been embarrassed to send them to work with Chris, so instead we will have to eat them all ourselves. Oh, the sacrafices which must be made to avoid food waste. I should note, however, that the mini-cupcakes all came out of their nonstick mini muffin pan pretty easily, and were especially cute when frosted and chocolate chipped. However, I don't have a picture of those because we already ate them all up.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Maybe Not Unthinkable, But Definitely Unpleasant

I went to a kickboxing class at the YMCA this morning. That makes two days in a row that I put Brody into Child Watch and got a workout. Yay, me. Which probably means that I won't go again for the next six months. (At least, that's how it usually works.) But I do fully intend to keep this up...

Let me back up. Since I started Weight Watchers three months ago, I have lost almost 25 pounds and made it down to my goal weight. Yay, me! I am back below where I was before getting pregnant with Jake. I weigh what my driver's license says I weigh! I kinda thought that was never going to happen. Really, when I set that goal weight, I never thought I was actually going to reach it.

I ditched my everyday jeans awhile ago, and went down to my thinner ones. They're currently being held up by a belt, but it ain't pretty. So, I ordered some new jeans from Gap online (I love my Long and Leans, and I use our Gap Visa card for almost all of our purchases so that I can earn rewards points to spend at Gap. And if I order online, it lets me combine promotions, which they don't let me do in the store, so the jeans ended up costing me almost nothing.) Anyhow, before I digress into a full-on Gap commercial, let me tell you that I ordered the jeans in the next size down, and they arrived in the mail yesterday. And I think they're still too big.

All good news (well, except that I had to go back to the store and try to exchange my jeans). So I went to Gap to try on the jeans, and found that the next size down really did fit better. Feeling crazy, I decided to try the next size down from there. They were too small. I could button them, though, which was a nice surprise, but clearly they were not the size that I should be wearing, which I was totally okay with. So, apparently, I wear precisely half the size I used to wear, or half the size of the jeans that I squeezed into on my "skinny" days. (I am going back and forth as to whether or not I should just write what size this is, but I think I'm gonna stick with "not" in order to avoid alienating any people that fit into one of two groups: a) those that will read it and think, "She only wears a size X? That skinny bitch has no right to complain about anything!" and b) those that will think, "She still wears a size X? And she thinks that she should look good in a swimsuit?")

Which brings me to what happened next: I decided to try on a swimsuit. I must have been feeling cocky about my jean size (I know it's just a number, but it was such a nice, low number!). I say cocky because I have always, always hated swimsuit shopping; it's one of the worst things that a female has to experience. In the past, I have gone into fitting rooms with a dozen or more swimsuits, only to eventually emerge with maybe one that didn't make me want to kill myself. On a really good day. I don't know what possessed me to try it on a swimsuit on this day, but I did.

I fully expected to be less-than-thrilled about my nowhere-near-flat stomach. I've had two babies, and I am beginning to accept the fact that my stomach may never recover, no matter what I weigh. I'm trying to accept it, so I found a black (dark colors make you look smaller) tankini (to hide the tummy) that looked super cute on the hanger. And I picked out a larger size in the bottom than the top, because I was trying to be realistic. And it fit. But it made me want to cry. My bruised legs (I don't know why I bruise SO easily, but I do), my not-smooth thighs, my butt chunks hanging out of the swimsuit (Jake coined the term "butt chunks" and I still like it better than butt cheeks). And I have no boobs. Seriously, of the 25 pounds that I lost, I think 10 of them came from my boobs. And those of you that know me, know that my boobs never weighed 10 pounds, even during the pregnancy or breast feeding stages. So, they currently weigh about negative five pounds, give or take.

Needless to say, I did not buy the swimsuit. I tried not to sink into a depression because I really, really don't want to have body image issues. I just want to go back to being very happy about all the weight that I lost and how much better I'm looking in regular clothes. Or even nude. Just not in a swimsuit, apparently.

So I got to thinking. Is this really as good as it gets for me? I'm not getting any younger, and I have had two kids. I don't really want to lose any more weight, and in fact, Weight Watchers won't let me lose more than a couple more pounds before I would be considered "unhealthy" for my height. I know that I haven't been going to the gym, but I have been walking much more (while pushing a stroller, or even some days a double stroller with more than 40 pounds in it). I went through a period where I was exercising pretty regularly at home- sit ups, push ups, leg lifts, stretching, etc.- although I have kind of let that fall by the wayside over the last few weeks. And I'm eating much healthier. So I should be much healthier, right? And more physically fit?

Well, I decided that I needed to make it over the next hurdle, and actually head to the gym to find out. Yesterday, I spent some time on the stationary bike and then the elliptical machine. (BTW- Brody did not love being in the Child Watch program, but he tolerated it, well enough that I figured I could head back the next day.) I felt really good after exercising, and was experiencing an endorphin high well into the afternoon. But I was starving. Seriously, I only earned a few WW activity points by exercising, but I think I ate an extra 10. Kind of works against the goal of maintaining my current weight, but whatever. Maybe I just need to workout more regularly to get used to it.

Today, I decided to be even more adventurous and return to the kickboxing class that kicked my butt the last time I went, which was almost exactly a year ago. The one that is led by an ex-Marine who apparently NEVER tires. And I learned a few things about myself. I am really not in any better shape than I was a year ago. THAT was a huge disappointment. And, there are some things about my body that have not recovered from pregnancy. For those of you that have not given birth to two children vaginally, this may be TMI. But I know that some of you will understand when I say that I cannot do jumping jacks without peeing my pants. THAT was a surprise, and not a pleasant one. But, I figure it could be worse (if you don't believe me, check out this hilarious but slightly depressing post from another mom, And Then The Unthinkable Happened).

So, what does this mean? It means that, although I have reached what I thought was the magic number on the scale, I haven't actually met my goal of being fit, healthy, and satisfied with how I look in a swimsuit. It means that I have more work to do. And I'm okay with that, because I know that I'm still working on establishing more healthy habits that make my feel good about myself. (Even if I'm not okay with peeing my pants.)