Wednesday, August 31, 2011

surviving day one

Well. I survived. But let me go back 24 hours.

Last night I took the first step to getting healthier and attended my local Weight Watchers meeting. It was a whirlwind, since I had arrived a bit later than I wanted, information, pamphlets, coupons and the like were stacked in front of me. I was recalling the first time I went to WW some 8 years ago. I was being treated like a newbie, but I felt like a veteran this time around. I said nothing, but found a seat and listened to the topic that night - "Surviving the Grocery Isle". People openly shared their struggles and their tips for success. I listened intently... absorbing all the personalities and information surrounding me. I kept asking myself 'Am I really ready to do this?' 'Can I give it my all this time?' 'Will I succeed?' I answered each with with 'I have to.'

At the end of the meeting I got my chance to officially weigh in. Whew. Or more like, yikes. Ok well, I had to start somewhere, right? I thanked my leader and asked if I could take tonight to have one last hurrah! Thinking she'd scold me, I winced. But her answer surprised me. She grinned slyly and said "Go for it! But starting tomorrow you measure and count." I headed to the grocery store from there to stock up on some healthy food choices to have on hand until I could do a big grocery shopping. Despite being ravaged with hunger, my new enthusiasm led me to fill my cart with healthy options, except for that last indulgence. I tossed back and forth the idea of ice cream vs. an apple danish. Back and forth. Which one sounded best as my "last meal"? I opted for the danish, which looked oddly placed on the conveyor belt next to the broccoli, 5 calorie bread & yogurt. But I didn't apologize to anyone. I stuffed the groceries in the car and headed home.

Once the kids were nestled all snug in their beds, I tore into that danish like there was no tomorrow. And I ate it decadently. All of it. Yep. Every last bite. Don't judge me.

But the morning brought a new day. A new zest. And quite a different menu.
For breakfast I ate a light Activia Yogurt, a fried egg sandwich on low calorie bread & grapes. As a mid-morning snack I had a Fiber One granola bar. And for lunch I ate cantaloupe and 1 cup of the pasta salad from the recipe I shared in the last blog post. Only I beefed it up with some grilled chicken - 3 oz.

I splurged on a coke in the afternoon, and later snacked on a low calorie english muffin with a hint of peanut butter and thinly sliced apples on top - yum!

I've measured every portion and tracked every point. I purchased the WW point counter calculator and it was $5.95 well spent. I haven't yet eaten dinner at the time of this post, but we're headed to Subway and I know I'll be able to find a healthy option there.

For those of you who aren't dieting but following this blog, I can promise that all my posts will not be about diets and Weight Watchers. But for those of you who are interested, I will have regular updates . If you plan to get healthy along with me, please let me know! Let's encourage each other along the way.

Monday, August 29, 2011


I can do it. Sure I can. Fruit and coffee for breakfast. Granola bar mid morning. Grilled chicken salad for lunch. A snitch of chocolate in the afternoon. Gosh I'm really starving. Pop open a coke. Maybe another chocolate. Portion off supper. Still very hungry. I can't starve myself. I go for seconds. Maybe another helping of the veggie... that's healthy, right? I'll just skip a snack later. Watching TV. Thinking about the ice cream in the freezer. I'll just have a tiny bit. Ok, 2 scoops. Big ones. But only 2. Eat it all quickly because I feel guilty and want to get it over with. Get jammies on and see myself in the mirror. Sigh. I'll start again in the morning.

Ever have days like this? If you've ever been on a diet, I'm sure you have, or else you're not my friend anymore. Just kidding. The problem is, I've had too many of these days. After being sick in the spring, I lost 10lbs. While I didn't enjoy the way I lost it, I did see it as one positive thing to come from such an awful 5 weeks. But, once I was able to eat again, I did. And I did. And I did. And now I have all 10 back. Ugh.

Time to start again. But this time it has to be different. I need accountability. I need someone to kick me in the patootie when I don't make goal. I need someone to ask if I've exercised. My program of choice is Weight Watchers. I love it. It's a program that a person can actually truly stick to once they've lost all their weight. I tried Weight Watchers when my oldest (now 10) was just 2. I lost 25 lbs in a short amount of time and felt incredible! Two children later, and I'm still struggling to loose that 25 once again. I've tried Weight Watchers on my own, but I've realized that I need something a little more to give me the boost into this go round. Unfortunately, the meeting in my area meets on a night when I am not able to attend regularly. My plan? I'm going to attend the meeting tonight, get the materials and information on their new program (It has been 8 years for heaven's sake!), and then do the online version of the Weight Watchers program. In addition to that, it is my goal, to post on here weekly or bi monthly, my progress. Pictures included. I'm too embarrassed to post my current weight, but I have included this photo. I will, however, post my losses and gains (which I hope are few), my trials and my triumphs, & incredible recipes (see the teaser below). I'm hoping that you - my virtual world - will keep me accountable. Please do! Comment and give me a virtual kick when I need it. Share ideas and recipes that work for you. Encourage the heck out of me. I need it.

My first goal, you ask? Loose 10 lbs by Halloween. There I said it out loud. Now watch me go.

Healthy Pasta Salad (points unknown)

Rotini pasta - boil, drain and rinse

Chop up cucumber, red &/or yellow peppers, and onion into small pieces.

Toss together with some light Italian Dressing.

Make a big bowl up ahead of time and only add dressing to what you'll eat at a time. It will keep in the fridge for a few days to a week!

Monday, August 22, 2011

September Menu.

DISCLAIMER: I am not, and have never claimed to be, a computer whiz like my sister. Therefore, the links on this particular blog post have taken me way longer than it would most people. I apologize if they are not seamless or you have trouble with them. Please let me know if you encounter problems and I will have my said-sister fix them for me.

Brrrr. This chilly August morning has got me thinking more about chili and casseroles than hamburgers and brats. And with only a week or so left of August, I sat down this morning with my hoodie on and a warm cup of joe and made out my September menu. I figured a lot of you probably haven't thought ahead to what's for dinner tonight, let alone the entire month of September, so I'm going to share my menu with you. Take a week at a time, or shop for the whole month. Whatever works best for your family and your budget. I've found that most everything can be purchased cheaper at Woodman's, so if you have one near you, try them out next time you shop. Ours is about 25 minutes away, but well worth the extra miles when you only go once a month.

Follow the link to the file for the September Menu.

The file will open in filejumbo. Click DOWNLOAD. Then click OPEN. Then click ALLOW. Then double click on the file September_Menu.pdf. (Note: After you initally click on DOWLOAD, your pc may prompt you with an warning which you'll have to acknowlege and then click DOWNLOAD again.)

Remember that this is my actual menu, so there are days we have to eat out because of what we have going on, and I don't always make the exact meals on the exact days that I have on the menu. Things with perishables (i.e. lettuce, tomatoes, etc.) I make earlier so I don't have to rebuy because items have gone bad.

I had tossed around the idea of also sharing my shopping list, but here's the deal. My list does not include everything needed for the meals listed. I make my list based off of what is needed, minus what my pantry and freezers hold already. If you'd still like a shopping list (or recipes for any meals that are new to you), please don't hesitate to ask!

If you enjoy this menu planning service, it'll be available to you for the next few months as I create mine. I'm toying with the notion of having a menu planning service that would be available for purchase in 2012.

Until then, happy shopping... and cooking!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

fall to-do list

Overwhelmed by the impending frigid temps? Not sure where to start to get your home and garden winterized? I'm no pro, but I can share with you the steps I take to make sure the winter months and subsequently spring, go a little smoother!

PUT THE SCREENS AWAY - Windows don't get opened in the wintertime anyway, so why look through the dark screens all winter. It will brighten up your home and give you a clearer view of the beautiful snow-scene.

CUT BACK YOUR PLANTS - It may take some extra effort amongst everything else you need to do in the fall, but take the time to cut back your dead/dying plants. ONLY trim back the plants that start fresh from the ground each year (like Joe Pie-Weed, Peonies, Lilies, etc.) I always leave a few inches stick out of the ground to 'mark' where the plant is next year, in case I decide to move plants or add new ones before they come up.

SWAP YOUR CLOSET - Once there are more cold days than warm, swap out your summer clothes for your fall/winter wardrobe. If you've never done this, buy a few totes and pack away your shorts, tanks, sundresses, etc. It will free up tons of closet space for you, and it'll feel like "Christmas" when summer comes and you have a brand "new" wardrobe to choose from! Take this opportunity to swap out jackets too.

GARAGE & PATIO - Take a Sunday afternoon and clean and organize your garage. Get the mower stored to the back and get the snow blower and shovels out and ready to go. Pack away life-jackets, sprinklers, pots, hoses, etc. Take inside anything that will go bad if it freezes - like paints, stains, etc. Buy salt, new shovels and even a bag of sand if needed. That way you're ready when winter weather arrives. Also, put away your patio furniture. Store it away if you have the room (we put ours on top of our camper in the garage), or at least cover it. It will extend the life of your investment.

SPRUCE THINGS UP - When things are dead/dying in your flower beds, spruce up the exterior of your home with simple fall decorations. Hay bales can be purchased for about $2 each and corn stalks for $3 each. (or take them from yours or your neighbors garden (with permission of course!)) I like to add pumpkins (which voluntarily grow in my compost each summer), gourds (which are easily grown on a fence or trellis), and a few pots of mums (I particularly like the purple and yellow together, or purple and orange), and I made a scarecrow. So easy! Directions for him will be at the bottom of this blog post. With a little effort, your entryway will be ready for the fall months!

GARDEN - pull out the remaining plants. Winterize to save your root crops. Follow this link to learn how to harvest from your garden year round. Turn your compost pile and incorporate usable compost into your garden when you till it under for the winter. We also take a stake and mark where the compost is. That way, when the snow is deep, we still know where to find it to dump our scraps.

YARD - Cage up your delectable plants. You know, the ones the rabbits and deer love. We do simple cages using chicken wire and some plastic stakes. You can also buy plant covers or commercial sprays and powders to put around plants throughout the winter to keep these pesky animals away from your precious plants!

HOUSE - clean out your gutters after the last of the leaves fall. Sounds old-school, right? But seriously. Once that snow melts you'll want all that run-off going where it's supposed to go. Also, spray for bugs & spiders. Come winter, those buggers will be coming inside where it's warm and I don't know if you're like me, but I don't like extra residents around here! One last thing. Wash (at least) the outside of your windows. The insides are easy to do in winter, but trust me, Windex does not work well in sub zero temps.

SHOPPING LISTS & GIFT GIVING - If you haven't started your Christmas shopping by this point, it's not too early. Make a list of everyone you need to buy for, how much you budget to spend and some ideas for each person. Then put this list in your purse. That way, when you're out shopping, it's handy and you can pick things up as you find them on sale. Plus, I find that if I have the list handy and ready to look at a bunch, I'm thinking of it often and my shopping gets done much sooner. Take this time to also plan out any gifts you might be hand making. Buy the materials now and don't procrastinate! Get started on them so you're not rushed as it gets closer to Thanksgiving and Christmas. You'll feel much better knowing they're done and out of the way. In fact, invite some girlfriends over and have a crafting day! Put on some coffee and set to work!

ODDS AND ENDS - take clothespins off the line.... drain hoses and put them away.... check weatherstripping and replace if needed.... vacuum cobwebs....


What you'll need:

-bib overalls
-plaid long sleeved shirt
-1-2 bales of hay
-twine (I just used what was on the bale of hay)

First stuff the shirt full of hay. Make some stick out of the end of the shirt sleeves & the neck hole. Use twine to tie it tight so the hay stays put.

Next, put the bib overalls over the shirt like you would getting dressed. Proceed to stuff the pants full of hay as well. You can use safety pins to keep the shirt tucked in if necessary. I didn't need them. Leave hay hang out the leg holes and tie them shut with twine like you did the sleeves and neck.

Lastly, prop him sitting up and set a pumpkin in place for a head. You can use a fake pumpkin if you want to keep it there. Just push a piece of dowel through the fake pumpkin so it's like it's on a stake and then put the dowel through the neck hole to keep it from falling off.

Put the hat on top!

So simple and inexpensive and something you can store and reuse year after year.

HINT: Use some of your old clothes or shop the el-cheapo thrift stores for clothes. I got mine for only $1 per article of clothing, and the bale of hay was a mere $2. So for $3 and a fun hour with the kids, we have ourselves a cutie patootie scarecrow to use each year!

bunker down

Maybe it's because of the late spring... and even later start to summer. Maybe it's because I was sick and unable to enjoy those first precious weeks of the season. Maybe it's just that the kids are getting older and the time ticks by faster. I just never like to see the warm summer days wrapping up. But, as much as I hate to see summer come to an end, I have to confess, I do kind of get a twinge of readiness for the cooler temps when it gets to be this time of year. The pioneer woman in me starts to get the itch to stock the pantry, can the harvest, organize the clutter and make my fall to-do list. I anticipate the purple and golden mums on hay bales near my door. I start planning my corn stalk and pumpkin arrangements by the garage. Yes, I know it's kind of early to be thinking about all this - but is it really? August has a mere 2 weeks left and then comes September. Cooler nights and days are ahead. I know because I have woken up under an open window, snuggled deep under my down quilt.

And I will miss the lazy days on the deck. Swimming at the lake. Campfires at dusk. A freshly cut lawn. 49-cent cones at McDonalds. Fresh cut flowers on the table. A basket full of garden goodies. Walks in the woods. Reading in the sun. And bright red geraniums.

But I also love, crisp white snow. Warm apple pie. A hot cup of joe in the morning to warm me up. Slippers. Snuggling on the couch. Rosy cheeks. Frosty branches on the trees. Unexpected snow days. Hay rides. Carving pumpkins. Blizzards. Jeans and sweaters. And even shoveling (but not raking.)

In May, it's hard for me to imagine a time when I'll long for the cooler days, but I always do. Not that I want to hurry along the summer, but I don't dread it's end quite as much. And the kids go off to school. A bitter sweet time for me. I love to see their accomplishments and watch them develop their relationships and personalities, but I truly miss having them around all day.

So in the weeks ahead, there are sure to be blog posts about my winter preparations. You tell me... what is it you'd like to hear about? What topics would you like me to delve into?

Until the cold weather comes, take the time to lay on your back in the grass with a little one and name cloud shapes.

And now some pics from the last year to get you in the mood for the "s" word :)

Sunday, August 14, 2011


Life is short. The older I get, the more the reality of that statement slaps me in the face and I have to admit that I don't like it.

As a child, summer days were the longest ever. And summer vacation seemed to go on forever. Each day blending into another creating a seamless quilt of memories and events. Family and friends embellishing that memory quilt every step of the way.

Now that I'm an adult, I occasionally take the time to peruse my "memory quilt" as I sit with a cup of joe on the deck and watch the morning come, or as I watch my children creating their own memory quilts. Other times my trip down memory lane comes by looking at old photographs. I did this just last night and the screen on my computer became blurred by my teary eyes as I reminisced about a time just 3 years ago when my "baby" truly was a baby. Sometimes I find myself yearning for those days to be here once again. Other times I try to recreate events from my past for my family to enjoy. But I know that those days - while not lost - are simply stitched into my memory quilt.

And now that I'm an adult, my desire to treasure each event, each milestone, each person, each family member, each hug, each kiss, each encounter, each phone call, each friend, is amplified. I don't want to have regrets. I want to live life to it's fullest. Making friends not enemies. Loving with abandon. Finding the good in people, not the bad. Trusting wholeheartedly. Forgiving sincerely. Mending "fences" when necessary. And never looking back to find bridges burned.

If you are a friend, family member, acquaintance, or simply a stranger that's happened upon my blog. Take the time today to love the unlovable. Give someone another chance. Forgive the unforgivable. Call the person who's drifted away. Repair the rips in your memory quilt, so that as you look at the big picture that is your life, you'll see a fabulous creation where colors and textures, shapes and patterns all meld together into one unique creation that is personal to only you.

Love. Live. Laugh. Enjoy the life you've been given. Don't waste another moment.