Thursday, January 31, 2013

Reading, Muffaletta's & No Shave January

So as you might know, my son is in kindergarten this year. He loves it. On Sunday evening he asks if he has school tomorrow and when I say yes, he jumps in the air and says "YES!". It's an awesome feeling to know your kid enjoys school and looks forward to learning. Last night he says he has homework which is to read a little book he brought home. We then have to sign it saying he read it. I was a little skeptical since I've yet to hear him read. He's been doing good sounding out words but he's lacked the confidence to string the words together. Until now. We all sat down on the couch and he read his little book like a pro. It was amazing. To think 5.5 years ago I gave birth to that child and now he's reading, it just makes me smile. It was truly a moment I doubt I'll forget.

If you didn't notice my last post was kind of blah. I was in a rut this week for some reason and I decided to remove myself from the rut by getting myself all spiffed up and taking my husband out to lunch today. I think I need to plan events for the week to keep looking forward to something. Sometimes just sitting in the house all week doing laundry or sculpting is enough to make a gal crazy.

We went to Jason's Deli which is one of my top three favorite places to eat. They have some seriously delicious sandwiches. My favorite is their muffaletta. I get it every single time I go. Until today and my blasted calorie counting. I curse the day I ever started counting calories because now I find it hard to enjoy the foods that I once loved. I visited their website before leaving this morning and just about fainted when I saw the nutritional information for my beloved muffaletta. I always get the quarter muffaletta and it was 800 calories (for a QUARTER of a  sandwich)....let's not forget the 55 grams of fat and 1200 mg of sodium. Ick. I just couldn't do it. So I scoured the site for something that sounded good and was not going to kill me with salt. I picked the Zucchini Grilled sandwich. Oh my gosh was it good. Tasty bread with a big chuck of marinated grill zucchini, humus, onions, olives and peppers. I'm drooling now. I'm going to have to recreate it at home soon (and look what I found in one click). I got a half sandwich with fruit and baked chips and it was all only 440 calories. I did not miss my muffaletta at all. As much as I complain about counting calories I do like feeling in control and being at my high school weight is just an added bonus.

"No shave January" has come to an end. My husband is officially a mountain man. Well not really, I think one has to have a six inch beard to qualify as a mountain man. I think he can rock facial hair pretty well. He's my good looking husband with or without facial hair. So now it's just up to him as to whether he wants to make it "No shave February" too. We took a family vote: Greta and I voted to shave, Wesley voted to not shave. It's up to Sean (you know since it is his facial hair).

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


There is this crazy thing going on outside this very moment. I believe it's called rain. We haven't experienced the stuff in months (I kid you not). We so desperately need rain and I'm so happy it's actually coming down. But with it being dreary outside I feel like doing absolutely nothing. In fact, I'm exhausted. I have no reason to be exhausted, yet here I am sitting on the couch trying to stay awake and it's only 9:30 in the morning. I so need a life. I'd love to go do something but there is nothing to do. Greta and I are hunkering down at home until this crazy flu epidemic has passed. Greta got her flu shot back in the fall but I skipped it this year. Not intentionally, just kept putting it off. Now I'm relying on eating healthy, exercising and keeping myself away from large groups of people to keep the flu at bay. Since I'm stuck at home all day it shouldn't be a problem.

The exercising is ramping back up after little break over the Holiday's.  I get 30 minutes on the treadmill daily (except for the weekends when I'm too lazy) and I've been trying to get downstairs to the BowFlex once a week. I think the key to getting on the treadmill daily is to look forward to something while exercising. For me it started out with Podcasts. I love downloading podcasts to the Shuffle and listening while I ran or walked. I still like podcasts but only once a week. My favorite thing to listen to: This American Life. It's a random compilation of stories from around the country. I love it! Fascinating stuff. The other thing that keeps me on the treadmill for half an hour is reading. I don't know if everyone can do this but I enjoy reading while speed walking. I set the incline at the steepest (mine is 10%) and walk as fast as I can while holding a book. This has been my favorite thing to do until this week when we finally joined the 21st century and bought a tablet. It's just an el cheapo Android tablet from Amazon (whopping $70) but I LOVE it. I set it up and watch NetFlix while running. I'm currently making my way through the many seasons of Grey's Anatomy. It sure makes the time fly.

Now if only I could find something to make this morning fly by.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Weekend Update

The weatherman is playing tricks on us this week. We got to enjoy a spring like weekend with temperatures in the 60's and today it didn't get above 29 degrees. We did get outside and enjoy the beautiful weekend. Sean got to try out something he's been wanting to do for quite some time. Powder coating. From what I gather it's the process of coating a piece of metal with some colored powder (that's charged?) and then baking it in the shop oven to produce a nice coating on the metal. He's been researching it and he got a powder coating gun, so finally it was just time to try it out. Thankfully we have an oven out in the shop which I use to bake my sculptures...I can't imagine using the main oven in the house. The finished part looks marvelous and has already been attached to it's spot in the corvette engine. Oh....I should mention he made the part with his lathe and milling machine.

I was locking up the four remaining chickens a couple of nights ago and only three were roosting in the hen house. So I went out into the aviary to find one hen just sitting there, she wasn't looking good. So I brought her in the house and put her in a laundry basket with some hay. She was bright eyed and tried to peck my fingers but she wouldn't move. She drank some water, ate some hard boiled egg and promptly died.  It surprised me. And then there were three hens. I figure it's time for some chicks, to replenish the flock. My first thought was to get an incubator and hatch out half a dozen chicks. The kids would love it, heck I'd love it. But I don't want to have to deal with roosters. I know I'd get attached to the little buggers and would have a hard time getting rid of them. So I'm going to just go get some sexed chicks from the big stock tank at the feed store whenever they start arriving. I'm kind of excited.

I'll leave you with some random shots I got this weekend. Yes, it was warm enough for dresses and no shoes. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Thursday Thoughts

-Greta will dance around to nearly every country music song on my iTunes list except Taylor Swift. When one of her songs starts up Greta immediately tells me to turn it off. This makes me laugh for some reason. Perhaps I've instilled some taste in her after all (hehe...please note that these are my Taylor Swift songs).

-Sean and I had a date night last weekend and went to Olive Garden. I decided to be a good girl and ordered off of their "Light Entree" menu. Each meal was under 550 calories. So out comes our waitress with two dishes, one piled high with linguine, mussels, scallops and shrimp (Sean's meal) and next to it was this big plate with this tiny square of vegetable lasagna. I mean tiny (smaller than a deck of cards). It was so disappointing. Never again will I order from the light menu. Next time I order regular lasagna and take home half of it.

-The Volt hates the winter. It won't run off of electricity very often, keeping the gas engine going when it's under 20 degrees, for my short drive to school and home. We both will be very happy when Spring comes.

-I love Sue Grafton murder mystery books (you know...the "I" is for Innocent series). I'm devouring about one a week, nearly halfway done. I'm on "J" is for Judgement. There's nothing much better on a freezing cold day than to curl up under a warm quilt with a mug of green tea and read a good book.

-I've been having fun changing many of my regular recipes into low sugar recipes and replacing the vegetable oil with coconut oil. I just put two loaves of Double Chocolate Banana Bread into the oven and the smell is divine. Each slice will have less than 150 calories. I even snuck chia seeds into the recipe and I bet the kids won't even know.

-Yesterday I was upstairs putting Wesley's laundry away and Greta comes running upstairs gleefully yelling that she went poo poo in the little potty. I congratulated her and proceeded to go get the little potty and empty it into the big potty. Except there was nothing in the little potty except "remnents". But there was Chance (our terrier) who was licking his lips. I know, gross. So I decided to shame him. Perhaps he'll think twice before eating the human brownies again.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Small Victory

Today was a big day for Greta. She's officially gone seven days without having any accidents (we don't count night at this point). For a three year old this is quite an least for my three year old. I told her several months ago that if she can go seven days without peeing in her underwear we would drive into Target and buy her a Tangled doll that she's been wanting for like ever. She was downright giddy this morning. Every day she would ask how many more days and today finally arrived. She's a big girl in big girl undies now and I couldn't be more proud of her. We made a day of it. First to Target:

Then lunch at Panera Bread. I gotta say they have some wonderful Broccoli Cheese soup that's not all that calorie dense (200 calories). Paired with their Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich made for a lovely filling meal.  I'm thrilled a Panera opened up fairly close to us. Greta was thrilled they sell giant M&M cookies.

After that we stopped by the Goodwill store to see if there were any treasures that needed to come home with us. I'm a thrift store junkie and love finding a bargain. Today we didn't find much, a new princess puzzle and the Cootie game (I LOVED that game as a kid, blast from the past).
We came home and played the game. I think the kids enjoyed themselves. That was my day, I hope you had a nice day too!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Healthy Eating in 2013

I don't have many new years resolutions this year, but I do have a couple. I am cleaning up my diet. When I say "diet" I don't mean Atkins. The definition of diet is: "The kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats." So I'm cleaning up what I eat. I want to be a healthier person this year and subsequent years. This change didn't exactly start January 1st, I've been researching quite a bit for the past several months and what better time to throw it all into action than the first of the year? So, I present my Guide to Healthy Eating for 2013. Mind you I'm no expert but I do have quite a bit of time on my hands and Google at my fingertips.

My first and favorite discovery: Coconut oil! When I run across several people all singing the praise of a certain product I usually go home and research that product. Well, I did just that and am in love with coconut oil. I was one of the millions of people that always categorized coconut oil in the list of bad oils....because of the saturated fat content. It is high in saturated fat, but not all saturated fats are created equally. "The main saturated fat in coconut oil is lauric acid, a medium chain fatty acid. Lauric acid increases levels of good HDL, or high-density lipoprotein, and bad LDL, or low-density lipoprotein, in the blood, but is not thought to negatively affect the overall ratio of the two -Marisa Moore, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association"

The key here is to use non-refined, non-hydrogenated, cold pressed virgin coconut oil. The two most exciting things I read about coconut oil was this: "People who take coconut oil also tend to have improvements in how they handle blood sugar, for coconut can help improve insulin use within the body. -Dr. Oz" My blood sugar levels can be a bit crazy at times so this intrigued me. The other thing: "One 2009 study found that women who consumed 2 tablespoons of coconut oil daily for 12 weeks not only did not gain more weight, but actually had lowered amounts of abdominal fat, a type of fat that is difficult to lose, and contributes to more heart problems -Dr. Oz website". I promptly went to and ordered myself a jug of Organic Virgin Coconut Oil. I mix 1 Tablespoon in my smoothie every morning and it keeps my energy levels high and I don't feel the "morning low" in blood sugar. I've started replacing it in some of my baking, using it instead of butter or vegetable oil, with fantastic results. I won't even start on the benefits of coconut oil as a beauty aide. It's a fantastic moisturizer (my rough heels on my feet are nearly soft again!), wrinkle reducer, make-up remover, natural deodorant and hair conditioner. I am in love with coconut oil.

 Next favorite discovery: PB2. I admit to reading several bloggers who rave about this product and never knowing what they were talking about. One day I decided to Google it and what I came up with was a powdered peanut butter. You might be asking yourself why you would want peanut butter in a powdered form?

Because all of the oil and fat has been removed. You are left with the taste and decadence of peanut butter but none of the calories or fat (still has 45 calories per 2 tablespoons vs 190 calories and 15 grams of fat in regular PB). I decided to give it a try and bought a container of it off of Amazon (can you tell I love Amazon and my Prime membership?). So it came in the mail and I decided to try it in a smoothie. Threw some Almond milk, 2T PB2, cocoa powder, a packet of Stevia and some ice cubes in a blender. It was wonderful! I'm a faithful calorie counter so the thought of having my PB without the guilt was exciting. Then I discovered they made a chocolate PB2. It has dutch cocoa added. It's my new favorite thing.

 Next great thing: Chia Seeds. Yep, the little seeds you use to make Chia Pets with. Who knew they were so good for you! You probably know how good flax seeds are for you, well chia seeds are better and they don't spoil like flax seed does. These little tiny seeds are packed full of antioxidants, reduce food cravings, reduce blood pressure, they are the richest plant source of Omega-3s (they have more Omega-3 than salmon!) and they can help control blood sugars. Another plus over flax seed is you don't have to break them up to gain the benefits, just eat em whole. I mix a tablespoon in my morning smoothie and they add a nice nutty flavor. I enjoy them and their health benefits. I found a pound of them at our local grocery store for $10, the only bag they had was Bob's Red Mill.

Last of my favorite health foods: Liquid Stevia. I've only recently become a fan of Stevia. I used to sweeten my tea with honey which would generally always create a roller coaster ride from the blood sugar high then low. It had to go. So I did my research and settled on Stevia. It's an herb in the Chrysanthemum family that is ten times sweeter than sugar. It's a safe, all-natural, alternative to sugar and artificial sweeteners. I've tried the powdered form and it's ok but I really like the liquid, alcohol free version. Of course they sell it on Amazon. I believe 8 drops is equivalent to a teaspoon of sugar. It sweetens my tea without any after taste, I love it! I've been experimenting using it in baking and the results are great. Give it a try if you are worried about using artificial sweeteners (like I am).   

I feel like I could go on but I'll stop here. Perhaps this list has inspired you to do your own research about a product that is out there to improve your own health. Good luck!

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Mother Load

I've mentioned my love of tea many times now. Tea is one of my favorite things, mainly green tea but I'm venturing out. So you'll understand my enthusiasm when I got on my favorite tea site, Teavana, and discovered they were having their Heavenly Tea Sale. We're talking 75-90% off of their loose leaf teas. I'm a penny pincher to begin with so to find all their glorious tea for a mere fraction of the regular price nearly brought tears to my eyes.  I let out a little shriek and started filling my cart as fast as I possibly could, knowing that others were doing the same thing.

I've only ordered from them one other time. I bought a mere eight ounces of tea (four 2 ounce bags)  for a staggering $36 dollars. Then I promptly drank it all in a month (did I mention I like tea?). The stuff comes in two ounce bags and you use one teaspoon per mug of tea. It is heavenly stuff, full of apple chunks and dehydrated blueberries. The Youthberry stuff has orange rind and pineapple hunks. I've debated eating it like trail mix.

So all in all I bought $53 dollars worth of tea during this Heavenly Tea Sale. Tea that was normally $9-12 for two ounces was $1.70. They were sold out of nearly all the tea by the following morning. I'm so glad I just happen to wander onto the site that evening. When the box finally arrived last Thursday I was like a kid in a candy store.

There are 28 bags in there. I ordered a nice variety and can hardly wait to try them all. This one I tried this morning called Sakura Allure is a green tea with cherries, spearmint and rose buds.....little tiny rose buds! The smell alone is to die for. I just thought I'd share my delight.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Wednesday Write-Up

-I don't have many resolutions this year but I do have one. I am going to attempt to make Greta a much more happy child. This is what Greta looks like most of the day. I kid you not.

She pouts about everything. Most of the time even including the folded arms, stomping and slamming of her bedroom door. I wish she was a happier little girl. So my goal this year is to make her laugh more, spend more time playing with her and understand that she is only three years old. I walked in on her the other day practicing her "angry face" in her bedroom mirror. She was saying "angry face" (while making the above face) then she'd smile and say "happy face".  She did this over and over. It was funny and somewhat frightening all at the same time. Did mention she's three years old? Sean and I are petrified of what the teenage years might bring.

-Since I'm talking about Greta I'll mention my other goal. She started backtracking on the whole potty training thing. I don't know if it was a lazy thing or a power play but she even started going number 2 in her pull ups again. Talk about frustrating! So I decided with the new year comes a fresh start to potty training. Starting yesterday we said good bye to pull ups. I'm not buying them weekly anymore. She is now in big girl undies (except for night time) all day. It's like she just needed the nudge because she is doing wonderfully, only having one accident yesterday. I'm really proud of her and she knows it.

-The big dogs have been inside quite a bit over the past month due to the bitterly cold weather. Sophie is getting up in years and the white on her muzzle is creeping up steadily. I just wanted to share this picture, I thought it showed how sweet she is (when she's sleeping.....normally she's the spawn of Satan eating the kids toys, counter cruising, dumping the trash and jumping on the windows).

-My husband has decided to (attempt to) grow a beard. He's never been a facial hair kid of guy so this should be entertaining to watch. I admit I'm not into facial hair on guys but I'm willing to see how this whole experiment turns out. So let "No Shave January" begin!

-Today is the last day of winter break for Wesley, he's back to kindergarten tomorrow. I have to say I finally understand the lyrics to the popular Christmas song "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas" when they say "mom and dad can hardly wait for school to start again". I am SO there. Don't get me wrong, we've had an enjoyable time home as a family (Sean just went back to work today). We played a lot, read a lot, were sick many days, played in the snow and played the Wii (that we borrowed from my folks) nearly daily. We are heading out to Sonic for some ice cream in just a few minutes as a last hurray. But I must admit I'm looking forward to getting back in a schedule.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

First Flurry

Happy new year everyone! We got our first snow of the season yesterday and today. The kids soaked it up. The animals not so much.

 Greta all dressed up like Ralphie's brother from a Christmas Story. She couldn't even sit down to put her boots on. Hehe.....Love the hat too, thanks Granny Randi!

 Rocky, Desi, Heston, Cocoa and Dym all enjoying their morning hay.

 It was the kind of flakes that are huge and wet and perfectly formed. Gorgeous snow flakes. 

 So pretty (even on my cruddy coveralls).

 Desi says Hi. He'll be sixteen years old this Spring, which is still pretty young for a mini. The farrier trims a few that just turned 30 years old.

Goat Man posing for the camera moments before trying to dispatch me. He's one ornery old feller.