Wednesday, September 28, 2011


I may never have the opportunity to be truly famous. You know. Never worry about where the money will come from. Live in a house that doesn't have a remodeling project going on. Always able to wear the latest trends. People everywhere know your name. Yeah. That'll never be me. But, when bits of fame come my way, I love to soak it up. Relish it.

My first bit of fame came last year when I was featured on Good Day Wisconsin {a local TV morning news program}. While on the air, they mentioned that they were seeking local artisans to feature on the show. I immediately contacted them via Facebook and got the ball rolling. It was almost too easy. Before I knew it I was booked for a day to be on the air. My stomach turned. While I LOVED the idea of being "discovered", this was a l.i.v.e. show. No editing. No re-takes. My fears were calmed however when I realized my slot would be a mere 3 minutes. Ok. I can do THAT. And I did. I was on T.V. Real TV. And I got to meet someone more famous than me. It was my hour {well, okay. my 3 mintues.} to shine. And it was fun.

Me and cohost's Rachel Manek.

A picture in the studio. Not at all what I pictured. So quiet. So few people!

Look at me... wearing a mic! I feel so important!

Me with my wares.

My second round of fame came just recently. Being that I love cooking and am always looking for new recipes, I keep tabs on Fox 11's Living with Amy program, as well as her sister shin-dig, The Cooking Mom. I visited their website, only to see that they were looking for apple recipes. Well, my goodness. I have a LOT of those! So I perused my recipe book and sent them 2 of my favorites. Wouldn't you know I got an email back the same day saying they loved both of them, and wanted pictures of the finished product. So, I did what any fame-crazed lady would do and I hit the grocery store, got the items I needed and started cooking! I whipped up both recipes the next morning and sent off photographs of each one. Later that day, I received another email stating that they would be using my Apple-Berry Salsa recipe as their feature recipe the following week! What? And if that's not enough to fill my fame-tank, I get a Cooking Mom kitchen gadget too. *bliss*

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

what's shakin.

Me. A little too much for my liking. But I'm still plugging away! My jeans are definitely fitting looser. Yeah! Wrapping up week 4 here. Even though I followed program, I still feel like indulged a bit too much and the scale shows it as well. At home, it shows little loss, and at my meeting I was down only 1 #. Better than nothing, right! I have to say that after a less than stellar week, I do get motivated to do better. Time to restock the fridge with LOTS of fruits and veggies. My favorite thing to do lately is enjoy a little sweet treat from the garden... my raspberries are in there 2nd blooming season and they are soooo tasty! I only get a handful every other day or so, but it's a welcome switch up from the normal fruits I buy from the store.

Looking ahead to my new week, I like to see where I might struggle and plan ahead. My biggest hang-up for the upcoming week will be an out of town excursion. Seems like it's harder to stay focused on my goals when the temptations of the outside world are staring me in the face. But, I'll bring my materials. Track. And I will succeed. Feel free to ask me how I did. Seriously.

My "treat" of the week. Apple-Cinnamon Wontons a la Mode. {minus the a la mode part} I'm going to make these babies up to bring with us. Only 6 pts for 4 of them {including the ice cream}. What a treat!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

week 3 under my belt

We were challenged to try and have "perfect days" this past week and I have to say I think I did it! Or at least I came pretty darn close. I tracked what I ate, measured my portions, weighed my food & stayed within my points. And another thing {for those of you thinking I've got to be crazy for doing this} I treated myself almost every day. For several days in a row, I had enough points to enjoy a Hersey's with almonds at the end of the day. *Bliss*

So where did I end up? I lost a whopping 3.8 #'s this week! {that's 9.4 total} I earned another 5# sticker {WW calculates I'm down 10.6, but I left my shoes on the first weigh in, accounting for 1.2#} I'm that much closer to reaching my end goal. What do I need to work on? Exercise. Definately. I've taken the time to get in a walk or two and have a couple rounds of catch with my oldest throughout the week, but I need to start doing something to get my heart pumping and my muscles toned. I'm looking into a Christian Yoga class that may be starting up at my church too!

Here's what I look like this week:
Were there days I wanted to cave? Yep. Did I? Nope. I keep visualizing how much I'll enjoy cracking open the tote labeled "Michelle's Skinny Clothes" that's been collecting dust in the basement. And I'm gonna love when some of my current fav's fit even better. Not to mention all of you who are tracking my progress {or at least I'd like to think I have a fan club out there}. :)

What keeps you motivated?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

hard lessons

Last night, I had to make a tough choice. I told my 6 year old, Vanessa, that we may loose one of our chickens. But this blog post isn't about loosing a pet, it's about the lesson learned in the midst of this event.

Over the course of the last few days, one of our chickens has been acting peculiar. It wasn't until yesterday, that I really noticed that something wasn't right. By evening, she was still 'bristling' when we came near, and she remained in the box all day. After doing some online research, we've come to the conclusion that she must be egg-bound. A phenomenon where the egg gets lodged as it's being laid. There are ways to help the chicken when this occurs, and we tried them, but with no luck. We just couldn't seem to help her. When the kids arrived home after AWANA, I sat down to talk with Vanessa - my self-proclaimed chicken farmer. I lovingly told her that Gabby {that's the chicken} wasn't doing well, and she may not make it through the night. Immediately she went pale and looked panic stricken. I reassured her that we did all that we could do, and that as of that moment Gabby was still alive. That it wasn't a sure thing that we'd loose her, but that I wanted to prepare her.

Did I do the right thing by telling her this? I thought so at the time.

She proceeded to get ready for bed. But as I climbed the stairs to tuck her in, I heard her sobbing in her room. I sat on her bedside and tried to comfort her, and it was then that the lesson came to me. This was her opportunity to learn about trusting God - even when it's not easy. This was her chance to cast her burdens on the shoulders of our Almighty Father. By this time, Zoey had come to kneel by the side of her bed, and Jack had wandered in from his room to lay on the bed with us. Jason was nearby as well. We prayed for Gabby, but mostly we prayed for peace as we awaited His answer in His impeccable timing. We talked about trusting God with his creation. And we talked about how God's answer isn't always something we understand or want. Sometimes His answer is "no".

It took a while for her to settle down through all of this, but in time I could see His peace that surpasses all understanding sustaining her. She was able to quiet herself and rest in the loving arms of her Heavenly Father - literally. She quietly dozed off to sleep, and when I woke her for school this morning, there were no tears. She did, however, ask how Gabby was this morning. She said she wanted to know - good or bad. Thankfully, Gabby was still okay this morning. Still troubled by something. Still staying in the box.

This has been a lesson for me too. It's hard to see something you care about {daughter and chicken} suffering. It's even harder when there's little you can do for them. I had to come to the place of relying on Him, too, in all of this. I have to be okay with the fact that I've done all I can do for my chicken, and trust God to take care of her as he sees fit. And, I've imparted Godly wisdom to my daughter. Something that may be a pivotal moment for her in her spiritual walk. The time when she learned what fully leaning on God felt like.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

onto week 3

Ok, so I'll admit it. This past week was not quite as stellar as the first. A cookout with some friends and his monster delicious 1/2 # burgers were more than I could resist! But one day {or week} isn't the end of the world - at least I won't let it be.

Here's what I look like this week. Notice any changes yet? I notice subtle ones. Guess I should have taken measurements, too! That's on the agenda. I was down another 1 # as of the meeting yesterday.


How do you "beef up" a baked spaghetti recipe and keep it healthy? Here's what I did.

I boiled up a regular size box of whole wheat pasta and spread it in a 9x13 pan.
While the pasta was boiling, I chopped up every type of veggie I had in the fridge from my garden: green peppers, jalapenos, zuchinni, tomatoes and garlic. I sauted the veggies in just cooking spray until crisp tender. I added one can of spaghetti sauce and 1 lb browned ground turkey to the veggies. Mix till combined and pour over the pasta in the pan. Top with low-fat mozzarella and bake in a 350 oven for 30-40 minutes - watching that the cheese doesn't burn.

Adding the extras to the sauce, using the ground turkey instead of red meat, and substituting the whole wheat pasta, made this meal tons healthier and guess what? Everyone loved the new recipe!
How have you modified a recipe to make it healthier? I'd love for you to share your tips!

Friday, September 9, 2011

field trip.

Cool fall breezes have me bundling up in the morning and filling my coffee cup throughout the morning. Are you feelin' it? My kids are. And the crunch of crisp leaves beneath my feet sort of brings a smile to my face. I'm glad we live in a climate where the season's change. Always something new to look forward to. And with the coming of each new season, come new things to anticipate! This year will mark the first ever "Little Peeps Farm Day" at Hilfarm. So come in your muck-boots and play clothes and prepare to have a fun fall morning!

Little Peeps Farm Day
Friday October 7th
10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Hilfarm, Omro WI
Fee: FREE (donations accepted, but NOT necessary)

RSVP by Monday October 3rd

Rain-date: Friday October 14th

Please comment below with your email address if you need directions to Hilfarm.

Spend the morning visiting the chickens! Children will have the opportunity to learn about chickens and interact with them. Each child will get an egg to take home for breakfast the next morning, too. We'll talk about eating healthy and how eggs are a healthy breakfast choice. We'll even do an egg & spoon race (with plastic eggs of course!)

We'll also do a craft project while they're here - a make and take that you can enjoy at home. Plus, I'll have a photo-op spot to get a cute fall picture of your little ones. Picture files will be emailed to you the following week for you to print and enjoy!

Feel free to bring a sack lunch to enjoy a picnic lunch afterwards.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

one week down.

Not too shabby for one week. Although, ask my family and they'll tell you the first 3 days were brutal. Putting up with a crabby and hungry wife and mother. No, I wasn't starving myself to loose this weight, it was merely a matter of training my stomach when to eat and how much was appropriate. I knew I would have this "rough spell" before I started - I remembered it from before. Were there temptations along the way? Yes. Did I cave? Yes. Occasionally. But I took the points regardless of the cookie or chip I succumbed to.

Do I feel different yet? Actually, yes. I am proud of the fact that I'm choosing fruit over a cinnamon roll. And my tummy actually feels less bloated and somewhat flatter.

What do I need to work on? More exercise for sure. My son and I did a 1 mile walk earlier in the week and it felt great. Only took 20 minutes too and that was with a pokey and distracted 10 year old. I should be doing this every day for what little time it takes. Also, more water. Coffee isn't enough to count as my daily fluid intake, so more bottles of water it will be.

So how did I do anyway on my first week? Well, after my first meeting, I am (drum roll please) 4.6 lbs lighter than I was before! Here's a look at the changing me.

Low-cal recipe of the week:

Easy Stir-fry

lots of veggies of your choosing
(red, yellow & green peppers, onions, broccoli, zucchini and garlic)

spray a skillet with cooking spray (0 points)
saute veggies until crisp-tender

Serve over whole wheat pasta (1 serving = 4pts) or rice (also 4 pts for one serving).

To add protein, add 2-3oz of steak, chicken or pork. So filling and de-lish.

Saturday, September 3, 2011


Anyone who's been following my blog, has most likely gathered that I enjoy harvest time. A time of reaping what I've sown. A time to stock my pantry. My tomato harvest was threatened this year by what I've been told is "late blight" and I was worried I wouldn't have enough of a crop to do much with. Well, much to my surprise, I've diced up 10 bags of tomatoes for the freezer, used many in fresh recipes, snacked on the cherry tomatoes, made chili starters & even made a half batch of Ragu Spaghetti Sauce. And believe it or not, I'm still getting tomatoes! I'll most likely make more chili starter, and possibly another 1/2 batch of this sauce... nom nom nom!

So how do you do it, you ask? Easy! You can get the recipe for Ragu Spaghetti Sauce from - one of my favorite sites for recipes. Here's some photos of the process.

Start with fresh produce. I mixed both red and yellow tomatoes. The yellow ones are actually the best ones this year. No spots or scars. Just beautiful!

I just used my apple corer and took out the core of the tomato along with the stem. I cut any bad spots off and then blended them - skins and all!

Next were the other veggies. Vanessa helped me chop them up. Peppers, onions and garlic.

After that you cook them down in some oil. I used about 1/2 the oil the recipe calls for. You can always add more if it cooks out.

And of course the chickens get the scraps!

Once the pepper mixture has simmered, you blend it smooth too and add it to the sauce that's already on the stove simmering. That's what the tanish-white is in this picture. That will be the color of the blended pepper mixture.

Add your seasonings. I didn't grow herbs this year so I used my dried ones, but fresh would be even better! Also, I always start with the least amount of sugar and then taste it about an hour before it should be done. Add and season more as you like it to taste.

MMMMM. This has been simmering for quite some time. You can see by the sides of the pot that it cooks down quite a bit.

Then I filled my quart jars with the sauce. Make sure the jars are hot. I like to use my dishwasher to do that for me. Keeps them warm and sanitized until I need to fill them.

I referred to my Ball Blue Book of Preserving for processing time.

I just love the detailed instructions in this book!

Another side note. The recipe converted is 64 cups of tomatoes, so my half batch was 32 cups. I blended mine as I got them and over about 3 days ended up with enough to make sauce. I just kept it in my fridge until I had enough - all pureed and ready to go!