Wednesday, February 18, 2015


So it's 2015. And the second month is already halfway over.

Holy toledo, time is flying! (And yes, I know saying things like that makes me sound old. I am. And I can accept that)

Last year was really crazy with hubby's health issues and just a bunch of "normal" stuff, and as the year drew to a close, we joked that we realllly hoped that this new year would be better :)  And it is. But just because we flipped a page on the calender doesn't mean that things changed overnight...

We have quite a lot of work to do on our house. I repainted all the upstairs bedrooms last year (the kids rooms + our guest room, and even switched one room around). We also have done quite a bit of drywall repair (whoever the previous owner hired to do work did a pretty terrible job, as things weren't connected properly to studs). Also replacing the garage ceiling (pieces of it keep cracking and falling - can't exactly park cars in there!) Our pool needs resurfaced (I know that's totally a whiner "first world problem" - and when we bought the house we knew the pool was going to need work in a few years). Part of our roof needs patched and siding replaced. Fence and pool deck need repainted.

And then there's just my general, ongoing issue with organization and de-cluttering.  Kids are getting busier with school activities, so that's just another item on our plate.

But we are so incredibly blessed. And I'm working on shining rather than whining.  In fact, I've decided to make SHINE my "word" for 2015.

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky.    ~Philippians 2:14-15
And going along with that, I just wanted to share the prayer that Lysa Terkeurst posted on Valentine's Day:

Lord, remind me of the legacy that I am building every day. May my actions and reactions never betray the woman you’ve called me to be. I pray that I am known for laughter, perspective, discernment, fun, faithfulness, integrity, and genuineness. Keep these characteristics always in the front of my mind so as life marches on, I stay the course toward the legacy I so desire. Lord, more than anything, may the message of my life make You and those I love, smile. In Jesus' Name, Amen.  

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Celebrating Cat-mas

This is our first year to have a pet around for the holidays. Good times.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

THM Sample Menu

I had a friend who was starting THM back in March, and I pulled this together for her.  I had posted it on Facebook and have had many people comment that they wish it were more easily "shareable" so here 'tis!  I know sometimes there isn't a full 3 hours between my meals/snacks, but this is how *I* make it work. I'm really just focusing on S and E, not really worrying too much about FPs. My full freezer (second one in the laundry area, not just my fridge) is my critical partner in this venture - I try to make large batches of things like snacks, meats, even precooked quinoa and beans and then freeze them in individual servings to pull out when needed. I also do the same with soups - make a ginormous pot, feed my family, and I can usually get 5 or 6 lunches out of it (also great to pull out for dinner if I'm making a family favorite that I'm choosing not to eat) **I feel I should clarify: I no longer use Joseph's so liberally Sometimes I do sandwich "wraps" with romaine lettuce or crepes (recipe in book)  This is NOT an official THM post, and I don't claim to have all the answers.  I strongly recommend that each individual take the time to read the book and work to understand the principles.  It's a steep learning curve, but soooo worth it!!

Gwen's Nest also has this great post about making THM work.

breakfast (S) 7:30 - coffee with heavy cream, 3 eggs cooked in butter with real bacon crumbles, served over wilted spinach
snack (S) 11:00 - thin mint smoothie
lunch (S) 1:30 - piece of salmon, broiled with butter and garlic, along with mashed cauliflower (leftover from previous dinner), sliced cucumbers
snack (E) 4:00 - (small, just to hold over until dinner) - FF Greek yogurt with stevia, almond extract, and a handful of frozen cherries (the cherries are what make it E)
dinner (E) 5:30 - grilled chicken breast (marinated with red wine vinegar, a splash of avocado oil and Italian seasoning), boiled sweet potato topped with FF Greek yogurt and cinnamon, red pepper strips
munchie/dessert (E) - banana bar (these freeze really well - I make a whole pan then cut them up and toss them in the freezer)

breakfast (S) 8:00 - coconut porridge (pg 232), coffee with heavy cream
lunch (E) 11:30 - leftover grilled chicken breast, side of black bean quinoa salad
snack (E) 2:30 - chocolate banana smoothie
dinner (S) 5:30 - baked pork chop, roasted broccoli (with butter!), green salad with ranch
dessert/snack (S) 7:30 - celery with smucker's natural PB (don't go nuts with the PB!)

breakfast (E) 7:30 - overnight oatmeal - use apple rather than peaches
snack (E) 10:30 - fresh mandarin orange and 5 or 6 almonds
lunch (S) 1:30 - last of the leftover grilled chicken in a Joseph's pita (found at Walmart) with guacamole and romaine, cucumber slices, fresh broccoli dipped in ranch
snack (S) 4:00 - chocolate covered cherry shake, but no protein powder since dinner soon
dinner (S) 6:00 - leftover pork turned into cabbage wraps
dessert/snack 7:30 (S) - skinny chocolate! (pg 371)

breakfast (S) 8:00 - baked pancake with berry syrup (I made a huge batch of this and froze in jars, still working my way through it), coffee with heavy cream
lunch (S) 11:30 - quesadilla with Mexican cheese blend on a low carb tortilla, extra fresh veggies and ranch (but avoiding carrots)
snack (E) 3:00 - 2 banana bars and a bit of Greek yogurt with vanilla and stevia
dinner (E) 5:30 - sweet potato black bean chili
snack (E) 8:00 - half serving of big boy smoothie (pg 242) with cherries (and very little protein powder)

breakfast (S) 7:15 - two eggs scrambled with bacon pieces, in a low carb tortilla (also from Walmart) with salsa and cheddar cheese, coffee and heavy cream
snack (S) 10:30 - skinny chocolate, FF Greek yogurt with stevia, vanilla, and berries
lunch (E) 1:30 - leftover sweet potato black bean chili with 2 wasa rye crackers on the side
snack (E) 4:00 - small apple with 1 tsp Smucker's natural PB
dinner (E) 6:00 - bean burritos (canned fat free refried beans with FF sour cream, fresh salsa on low carb tortilla, no cheese)
snack (E) 8:00 - 2 cups of popcorn (made on stovetop, light on oil)

breakfast (E) 8:00 - THM pancakes (pg 223) - again, I make a large batch of these and throw them in the freezer to pull out as needed). Topped with FF Greek yogurt and berry syrup
snack (E) 10:30 - banana bar with a pile of Greek yogurt and some frozen berries on top
lunch (S) 1:00 - Just Like Campbell's soup made with heavy cream (pg. 292)
snack (S) 3:30 - cheesecake berry crunch (1/2 of recipe, pg 373)
dinner (S) 6:00 - Big Mac Salad - burger served on a pile of lettuce, dressing made my mixing mayo with sugar free ketchup and dill relish (Family has their burgers on buns)
snack (S) 8:00 - skinny chocolate

breakfast (S) 8:30 - coffee with heavy cream, 3 eggs cooked in butter with real bacon crumbles, served over wilted spinach
snack (S) 10:30 - skinny chocolate
lunch (S) 12:30 - leftover burger eaten with a Joseph's pita with guacamole, cucumber slices and pepper strips
snack (S) 3:00 - half thin mint smoothie dinner
(S) 6:00 - pizza!
snack/dessert (S) 8:00 - half microwaved mudslide muffin, made with some frozen raspberries and a drizzle of heavy cream

breakfast (E) 7:30 - Gwen's berry cake (again, from the freezer) with Greek yogurt, stevia and a drop of lemon essential oil
snack (S) 10:30 - Joseph's pita with a slice of cheese, deli ham, and a schmear of mayo
lunch (S) 1:30 - leftover pizza, jicama wedged
snack (S) 4:00 - basic treat squares (large batch, stores in fridge long-term), pg 400
dinner (S) 6:30 - grilled chicken quarters, butter braised cabbage, green salad with extra veggies & ranch
snack/dessert (S) 7:30 - handful of frozen berries with a drizzle of heavy cream on top

breakfast (E) 6:45 - 2 banana bars and half a big boy smoothie (and out the door!)
snack (FP) 10:00 - 2 wasa rye crackers and a wedge of light laughing cow cheese (from my purse)
lunch (S) 12:30 - McD's bacon ranch salad with grilled chicken (use Newman's Own Low Fat Balsamic Vinaigrette or bring your own - their ranch is too high in carbs)
snack (S) 3:00 - thin mint smoothie
dinner (S) 5:30 - taco meat with mix of 80% lean ground beef and turkey. I eat mine as a salad (lots of salsa!) the family has tortillas
snack (S) 7:30 - lemon cake

breakfast (S) 7:30 - MIM (lemon blueberry version, based on recipe on pg 256 - almond flour and flax, plus lemon EO and a couple frozen blueberries), coffee with heavy cream
snack (S) 10:30 - basic treat squares
lunch (S) 12:30 - leftover grilled chicken and braised cabbage, jicama wedges
snack (E) 3:30 - small apple with wedge of light laughing cow
dinner (E) 6:00 - creamy chicken and wild rice soup 
snack (E) 8:00 - FF Greek yogurt with almond extract, stevia, and some cherries

Monday, September 22, 2014

Deep, Dark Brownies (THM - S) - and a bit of chatting about coconut flour

These are a result of me combining a couple Paleo recipes I found in the blogosphere. I really, REALLY prefer baking with coconut flour over almond for a few reasons.  It’s more affordable: it costs less per pound, plus you use much less of it; it’s a lot more absorbent than almond flour, though, so plan to use more eggs and liquid.  Almond flour is also very calorie dense and can contribute to stalling out on weight loss (using it occasionally is fine, but making almond flour biscuits to go with your dinner every night may not be the best idea.  We don't count calories on THM, but you still need to respect them).  That being said, coconut flour has a bit more of a natural sweetness to it, which is fine with these brownies, but if I’m making something savory I rely more on almond flour.

One last comment: the THM book has a recipe called “Special Agent Brownie Cake” (pg 382) that includes beans.  In the comments, Pearl says, “I know it sound strange to admit, but sometimes I love to eat a big piece of this cake for breakfast along with my coffee.  I get full, and it’s a good protein source, so why not?”  May I draw your attention to the phrase GOOD PROTEIN SOURCE?  I see many people on the Facebook boards commenting about eating dessert for breakfast – not the worst thing in the world, but remember, your body really needs protein, so I wouldn’t recommend regularly chowing on these brownies (or most of the other THM dessert recipes you may find) to kick-start your day.
Deep, Dark Brownies (S) – makes 12 brownies

1/4 c coconut flour (purchased, not ground up coconut flakes)
3/4 c cocoa powder
1/2 c Truvia (or 1/4 c THM Sweet Blend) + a few shakes of Stevia powder to get to desired sweetness*
1/2 tsp grey Celtic or pink Himalayan salt
4 large eggs
3/4 c almond milk (unsweetened. I prefer Silk brand as it does not contain carrageenan)
1 tsp instant coffee granules
2 tsp vanilla
1/3 c butter, melted (coconut oil would be fine, too)
Whatever add-ins you desire: I used two squares of 85% dark chocolate** (chopped) and a scant 1/4 cup of walnuts

Preheat oven to 350, and grease an 8x8 pan.  In a medium sized bowl, blend together the first four ingredients, and use a fork to press out any lumps.  In another container, mix together the eggs, almond milk, coffee, vanilla, and butter (I use the glass measuring cup that I melted the butter in – anything to minimize dishes!).  Pour the liquid ingreds into the dry, and mix well. Let sit for five minutes or so, then blend again, and pour into prepared pan.  Bake for 25-30 minutes (until center is completely set).  Let cool before slicing – I know it’s hard to wait, but they really need to set.  Store covered in the fridge.

*Sweetness is SOOOO subjective, especially with chocolate items.  I know it’s annoying when people don’t give you exact amounts, but it really depends on how bitter your cocoa powder is, plus your personal palate. I live on the edge and taste raw dough (yes, I know there’s a slight risk of salmonella poisoning from the raw eggs) – if this makes you uncomfortable, you can always microwave a Tbsp of the batter for a taste test before baking the whole pan.

** This is considered on-plan (in small amounts) even though it has some added sugar.  I found I still could not use it for the first six months or so, though, as it would still trigger sugar cravings, but I no longer have that issue.  Just something to keep in mind...

A few other comments: I think this is better after it's been in the fridge overnight.  It's also really good with frosting (what isn't?!?) Serene's Superfood Chocolate Icing on page 385 of the book is reeeeeaaaaallllly good - super rich & fudgy. It does have a noticeable coconut flavor, though (a can of coconut milk is the base, after all). I like to mix up a batch of this and keep it in the fridge. It's great on strawberries, or a spoon. Just being real :)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Berry Peach Cobbler Baked Oatmeal (THM – E)

I stumbled onto a recipe for a single serving peach cobbler baked oatmeal, and used that as inspiration to make a larger version.  This is family approved, and I love that this single pan feeds us for two full days, plus two additional servings. Wow!  It's also inexpensive - double win :)

Berry Peach Cobbler Baked Oatmeal (THM – E)

5 large or 6 medium peaches
2 c berries (if using a frozen blend, no need to defrost)
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 scoops protein powder
3 c oats, ground into flour (using a blender or coffee grinder)
1/3 c Truvia
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt (grey Celtic or pink Himalayan)
2 c old-fashioned oats (NOT quick cooking) – soaked with ACV for 12-24 hours, drained and rinsed *
2 c almond milk
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp almond extract

Preheat oven to 350. Roughly chop peaches (I leave the skins on) and place in large bowl.  Gently toss with berries, spices and protein powder, then pour into a greased 9x13 pan. Wipe out bowl, then dump in the dry topping ingredients (the next 6 items in the list: ground oats - salt) and stir together.  Add the remaining wet ingredients and mix well.  Pour over fruit. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until topping is set and there’s some light browning.

Store in fridge.  Makes 10 surprisingly filling servings (I score it into ten sections after it's cooled) – I like to have mine with a dollop of Greek yogurt (with vanilla and a bit of stevia stirred in) and a drizzle of almond milk.  

*more info on soaking grains such as oatmeal HERE 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Some of my "Life" Books

So there's a "Top 10 Books" meme floating around FB right now.  One of my friends from high school tagged me when she shared her Top 12, and I followed her lead on flexing the rules a bit :)  Sharing the list here, along with some chatter:

1. Bible - pretty self explanatory.  "My" first official copy was a white hardback with a painting of Jesus on the front.  I believe it was the Good News version - but mostly I remember the stickers in the back (earned during Sunday School). Current version is NIV/Message Parallel.
2. Experiencing God (Blackaby) - I did this study when D was only a few months old.  We met in a friend's home, and there were something like 12 of us ladies and over 30 kids under the age of 6. Yeah.  But despite the insanity, this study grabbed onto my heart.  And I swear that I'd never heard Hebrews 12:7-11 before.
3. Fit to be Tied (Hybels) - someone (I think it might have been one of the librarians I worked with in college?) gave me this book shortly after the now-hubby & I became engaged.  He was 22 and I was 21, and we were engaged 15 months (it seemed like an eternity!) Lots of excellent advice on what being married really means. Hmmm, think I may need to pull it out again, now that I think about it.
4. Professionalizing Motherhood (Savage) - I worked in the "corporate world" seven years before leaving to become a full-time Mom. I was excited about that transition, but also weirdly adrift/disappointed because I no longer had measurements of productivity. This was a book that helped me adjust my perspective, and I've recommended it repeatedly to other new moms.
5. The Search for Significance (McGee) - I first learned of this book during high school and read part of it, then in college (after changing my major to Psychology) I finished working through it (the author is the founder of Christian counseling center). Picked up the updated version when pregnant with our son, and it was still an excellent read.
6. Trim Healthy Mama (Barrett, Campbell) - I was introduced to this a year ago, but it's absolutely a life changer. So thankful to feel positive about the direction I'm headed physically!
7. The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe (Lewis) - I honestly can't remember a time I didn't love books, but I DO vividly thinking I hated anything that was sci-fi or fantasy, but this book changed my perspective. My parents purchased the Narnia box set on a Scholastic order in 3rd grade for $20 (we didn't normally order from there, and I can remember being shocked that my parents would spend that much money). I still have that box set, and it is very worn (I still remember being very angry with my brother when he read them and didn't treat them with the proper respect).
8. The Secret Garden (Burnett) - another childhood favorite. I received a beautifully bound copy of this book as a Christmas gift from an aunt & uncle, and I had not even heard of it.  I remember being somewhat confused when I started reading, but was soon drawn into the story. Dark and gothic, yet corny & uplifting.
9. Deadline (Alcorn) - read shortly after we were married, and I was surprised that a Christian novel could be so well-written, and I also found my comfortable existence shaken up a bit.  I've read several of Alcorn's other books, and I was torn whether to include this one or Safely Home (I chose the one that was published earlier).
10. What Alice Forgot (Moriarty) - an amazing novel that I read two years ago because I was sick of seeing it on so many "You Really Should Read This!" lists. And know what, you should! Although not a Christian novel, it made me stop and think about how many blessings I take for granted...
11. Threads of Change Trilogy (Baart) - I just discovered these amazing books this year, and have recommended them to several friends.  Christian novels that aren't afraid to tackle hard issues and don't provide trite answers, but a beautiful depiction of grace.
12. Snuggle Puppy (Boynton) - Yes, this is a board book.  I read this to both kids and made up my own song. I can still sing it - and both kids occasionally request it. "The way I feel about you is a kind of a song..."

It was so difficult to narrow this down, as I do love me some books. Anne of Green Gables, Little House on the Prairie, several series by Janette Oke, If God Loves Me Why Can't I Get My Locker Open?, I'm Glad I'm a Woman, A Grief Observed, Addicted to Mediocrity, Outland comics (better known as Opus & Bill) - as well as Calvin & Hobbes and later Baby Blues, Naked Fruit (about the fruits of the spirit - ha!), Good Girls Don't Have to Dress Bad, Life Artist, Storybound... 

Oh, how awesome to lose oneself in a well-written story, or find yourself changed by a few well written sentences!

On that note, I do believe I shall share this tidbit from the book currently on my nightstand, God's Heart for You:
Real friends tell you when you have something in your teeth. They love you enough to speak the truth, and Jesus is our most faithful friend of all. He sees deep within our hearts and tells us when something is stuck there that doesn't belong. His correction always comes with grace, not condemnation.  ~Holley Gerth

Friday, September 5, 2014

Friday Funny

Haven't done one of these in awhile, but this was awesome:

5 Minutes in a Mom's Head

An excerpt of my morning thoughts, but sadly this isn't nearly as funny...

Ahhhh.... Sleepy.  Oh crud, I must have pushed snooze! Why don't I remember doing that?  I need a shower. Wait, no time now - will get A in the shower, and then I'll grab one after I drop her at school.  Man, I hope I don't have to get out of the car.  Of course my roots are awful anyway.  Did I ever buy that box of hair color?

I hear stomping, so at least D is up already. Did he finish that project last night? What can he eat for breakfast? There are some leftovers from dinner - wait, hubby probably is eating those right now before leaving for work. What can I make for dinner tonight? I had that meal plan all made out, just wish I could remember where I left the paper. Wait, paper.  Did I already sign A's homework log?

Ahhhhh, tomorrow is Saturday!!