Monday, December 30, 2013

Getting a Jump Start on The New Year

Well it's that time again!  Time to get focused and write down those thing I would like to accomplish in this new year.  I know it's not the new year yet, but New Year's Day falls on a Wednesday and I like things to start new things on Mondays...so I am posting my list (and starting) today!  I also realized that last year I didn't remember some of my goals because I didn't look at the list regularly so this year I plan to print out my list and post it where I can see it. 
 
So here they are...
 
PHYSICALLY
I am ready to do this once and for all.  We are going on vacation to the beach in June and I want to reach goal weight by then.  I am currently at 168.8 lbs and I want to see 150 by mid-June.  That's just under 1 lb a week that I need to lose which is totally achievable. 

SPIRITUALLY
I really want to grow in my spiritual walk this year.  I have signed up to be in a year-long women's small group which will require a new level of commitment and consistency and I a excited about it!

ATHLETICALLY
I don't have any racing goals this year and in fact may not race at all.  My goal is to become more toned and fit during my weight loss so I won't feel hindered to try new things because of my lack of physical fitness.

FINANCIALLY
I want to get back on track with Dave Ramsey's Baby Steps.  This means paying off our van as soon as possible and then start putting money into savings.  First and foremost I want to set up a workable budget that our entire family adheres to.

MARRIAGE
Continue to see our marriage grow by nurturing it through date nights, open communication, and showing each other mutual love and respect. 

PARENTING
Try to listen more to my children instead of instructing or correcting them.  I want to see the heart of my children.  I also want to show them unconditional love.
 
FAMILY
Goal #1:  Spend more quality time as a family doing things other than watching TV!  Plan to do 1 fun thing per month as a family.
Goal #2:  Once our budget is in place, I would like to figure out some system of chores and allowances.
Goal #3:  Develop authentic & quality relationships with extended family scheduling regular visits with them.
Goal #4:  Start teaching my kids stories from the Bible by doing some reading in the evenings.
 
HOMEMAKING
Goal #1: Make a weekly & monthly cleaning schedule and try my best to maintain order in our home so it can be a place of relaxation.
Goal #2:  Continue with last year's goal to organize every room in our house and purging those things we do not use/need.
Goal #3:  Do weekly meal planning and grocery list in order to save money on food and also use items from our pantry.
 

2013 Goal Recap

Well I can't believe Christmas is done and gone and the beginning of the new year is just around the corner.  I think it's this time every year that really gets me thinking about how I spent the past 365 days and what things I would like to do differently in the next year.  I know I made some goals for 2013 a year ago and I ok at reaching them but didn't make as much progress as I would have liked.  Here were my goals from last year:

MENTALLY:  
I would like to focus on who God says I am.  And believe it.  No more negative self-talk!
I think I really am getting better at this.  I have moment where I find myself being negative but I am definitely getting better at accepting who I am. 

PHYSICALLY:  
When discussing with hubby what weight he thinks I would look awesome at, he said 150.  So that's my goal....reach 150 lbs.  The last time I weighed that I was probably in college, so it would be rockin' awesome to weigh that again.  Once I reach that weight I will see if I need/want to lose more or stay at that weight.
Still haven't met this one yet, HOWEVER I did make it to the 160's for the first time in a LONG time so I will say that I am making progress!

SPIRITUALLY:  
I'm ready to commit to, and execute, a habit of morning devotion times.  Life is hard when you don't routinely plug in to the One who created you!  I don't like feeling disconnected.
I have actually started doing this one!  I am not super-consistent, but manage about 3- 4 days a week which Is good compared to 0!
 
FINANCIALLY:  
Build up our savings enough so we have 3-6 months of living expenses in there.
A few things have interfered with reaching this goal...we bought a van in the spring of last year and we now are working to pay it off with monthly payments. My husband also took a different job and a slight cut in pay so it has been harder to save. 
 
HOMEMAKING:  
GOAL #1:  Declutter and organize our entire house.  We have way too much stuff...and no place to put it, so it's time to pare down!  The thought of a clutter-free home makes me giddy!
I have started this process but am nowhere near close to completely it.  The thought still makes me giddy though!
GOAL #2:  Try 52 new recipes in hopes of finding some new favorites!  This amounts to 1 per week, but I'm not going to be that structured with it.
I lost track of just how many recipes I tried but I probably did meet this goal.  I tried a lot of new ones...especially those from the THM book..it just got to be too much to post each and every one.  And once our computer died I gave up on posting any.

FAMILY:  
GOAL #1:  Start implementing the MoneySmart system and teach my kids about responsibility and money.
Did not meet this one.  I still would like to implement this one, however with our income being cut down some I need to work out a budget first and see if this will work. 
GOAL #2:  Play with my kids more.
I have played with my kids more, but probably still have room for improvement.
 
ATHLETICALLY:  
Run at least 1 half marathon and PR.
I did run a half marathon, but did not PR...in fact I had my worst race ever.  This has discouraged me from doing any more for awhile!

MARRIAGE:  
Really focus on showing love and respect to my husband through my words & actions
I have tried to focus on this as much as I can and I can really see that our marriage is really growing and maturing.
 
FRIENDSHIPS:  
Plan a Girl's Night Out at least 4 times this year.
Hmm...not sure if this one was met or not.  I don't think it did.  Things got really busy in the spring with work and honestly I forgot about it. :(

Next Up:  My 2014 Goals!!

 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Tuesday Recap

Well, I fell off the wagon...again.  But I knew I would because I was going to be away from home today shopping.  Nonetheless I am down to 178 this morning, so down 1.2 lbs from Monday. 

Breakfast - THM pancakes with caramel sauce (this sauce is my FAVE right now!)

Early Lunch - Trail bologna and Swiss cheese

Early Dinner - Subway's cold cut combo on flatbread with lots of veggies and sweet onion sauce. (6") 1/2 a cupcake (I have been wanting to try one from a local shop but it's always sold out so when I saw it was open, I caved in a moment of weakness)  Honestly, it wasn't even that good so I won't be going back there.  Then End.  1 HUGE (I'm not gonna lie) M & M cookie from Bob Evans.  I will be honest, it was good and totally unexpected because I got them for free when I bought my FIL's gift card for Christmas. 

Snack - Off-plan...again.  I ate some cheddar chex mix.  I probably could have eaten more, but I just told myself to go to bed because I had been bad. ..so I did!

On a good note, I bought myself a new pillow because mine were feeling kind of flat and I haven't been sleeping well, and it make a huge difference!  I slept well!  And thankfully so because I have a busy rest of the week...and a busy day today!

 Happy Wednesday!



Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Monday Recap & This morning's weigh in

Well, I did GREAT following THM yesterday...until dinner hit.  I have realized my weakness is pizza....warm pizza straight from the oven.  And it all went downhill from there...

Breakfast: (E)  Eggwhite scramble with Laughing Cow Swiss Cheese and a Chocolate Fat-stripping Frappa (which I didn't finish eating)

Snack: (S) 1 hard-boiled egg with salt sprinkled on top.

Lunch:  (S) Egg-salad on 1 small Joseph's pita, and green beans with a smidge of bacon grease melted on top for flavor.  1 Chocolate Chip Cookie in a mug with THM caramel sauce drizzled on top.

Dinner:  (off plan)  2 slices pepperoni pizza and some whole wheat cutout cookies with no frosting.  (I told ya I went off plan!)

Despite my sins yesterday, the scale said 169.0 today, so that means 1.2 lbs is gone!  Woohoo!

Today I am assuming I will go off plan for lunch because I planning to go shopping with a friend and we will most likely eat fast food.  But planning to stay on plan for breakfast and dinner!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Becoming a Trim Heathly Mama

Last June or July I came across a book called Trim Healthy Mama Pearl Barrett and Serene Allison.  It's a BIG book (over 600 pages!) and it took me awhile to read through it, but it really is an amazing book.  It's not a diet book, but a book that encourages a lifestyle change.  The authors spent 5 years writing the book and researching different eating styles.  The book not only explains the what, how, and when to eat but also the WHY.  They talk about how different foods affect your body.  It truly was an enlightening book!

So I slowly started eating the THM way.  And probably within the first month I lost 6 pounds quite easily!  And at that point I think I was only eating on-plan for breakfast and lunch!  Things got busy in the fall and I will admit that I was doing pretty good with staying on-plan for breakfast, but the rest of the day sort of fell off-plan.  So my weight stayed the same, but I finally saw a number on the scale that I hadn't seen since before I was pregnant with my 9 yr old!  165!!  Which meant I was only 15 lbs away from my goal weight of 150!  I felt great and my clothes were fitting better than ever!  Even my hubby said, "I can really notice a difference in your body since you've been eating the THM way!"  I was stoked!

Enter:  The Holidays.  And my son's 13th birthday.  And all the yummy snacks and goodies that come with both of them.  I was eating less and less on-plan.  And was feeling more and more terrible.  When I eat the THM way, my stomach is no longer bloated and I feel great.  So when I go back to eating the old way I feeling bloated and yucky.  So why do I keep reverting to my old ways??!! 

Today I am making it a goal to stay on plan as much as I possible can (because things WILL come up) and have been thinking of ways I can be successful.  My ultimate goal is to reach my goal weight by our beach vacation in June.  So here is my plan:

1.  Plan ahead.  This is soooo important, yet something I lack at doing.  I need to plan out each day's meals.  When I plan my meals ahead of time, the hard work is already done...I simply look at my plan and eat what it says.  I would love to make a meal plan for a week at a time and shop accordingly so I have all the ingredients I need on hand.

2.  Find some favorite on-plan dinners.  I tend to fall off the plan at dinnertime.  Usually what I make for dinner does not follow the THM guidelines and instead of making myself a separate meal, I just eat what my family is eating.  I know it is possible to have THM dinners my whole family can eat and enjoy...I need to make a list of what they are instead of reverting to my old tried and true favorites.

3.  Exercise. Since the weather turned frigid here in Ohio, I am exercising less and less.  I just can't talk myself into going out into the cold to walk or run!  What makes me the saddest is that I can really tell a difference in my muscle tone...aka I am starting to feel flabby.  YUCK!  So I am going to need to find ways to exercise indoors.  I tried a belly dancing workout last week which was super hilarious...and NOT my gift at all.  My treadmill is buried in our bedroom by all the tools and construction stuff we used for our master bathroom construction so I need to move some of that stuff around so I can actually unfold and use my treadmill!  That is my goal for today.  Even if I would get on it for 15 mins a day...that's more that what I have been doing!  I am thinking I need to change my workout routine a bit and do it in the evenings instead of the morning.  My hubby is working 2nd shift right now which means he is sleeping at the time I would normally work out. And since it's just me and the kids at night I could use that time to do a quick workout.  I am working 4 days this week and just saw that 2 of those days it's supposed to be about 20 degrees warmer than it has been so I may use my lunch break those days to sneak in a quick 20 min walk!

4.  Remind myself how good I feel when I stay on-plan and how great it will feel to reach my goal weight!  When you're in the trenches, it is so easy to lose sight of the goal.  Each time I go back to my old way of eating, I feel terrible physically and literally cannot weight to get back on plan!  I need to keep my eyes on the prize of a thinner, healthier me and keep trudging on!

I am going to TRY to post on here when I workout and my weekly weigh-in results...but consistency has never been my friend so I apologize in advance if I don't follow through with that promise!

Current Weight:  170.2 (but I suspect this includes some extra pounds due to water gain.)
Today's Workout:  20 mins of cardio/weights

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Choosing Joy

My mind is racing again.  With all the things I need to do here at home.  With those Christmas gifts that still need purchased (and in some cases thought up).  With the holiday baking I should do with the kids.  With all those Pinterest projects I have yet to do.  With the yearning to draw and paint and to be artistic again.  With the fact that I haven't been faithful in exercising lately and I am feeling a bit flabby.  With issues concerning family members.  With the fact that I have lost my joy in life. 
 
There I said it.  I have lost my joy.  And I am trying hard to find it.  To beckon it back to me.  It's hard to find joy when my mind is full of an ever-growing to-do list.  Expectations from those around me.  My own expectations.  And a sense that I am failing as a mother.
 
So I am praying that God helps to restore my joy.  I have heard people say before that we must CHOOSE joy...but how?  When you feel so completely and utterly drained from the demands of life HOW do you just choose to be joyful?  I certainly don't want to be fake.  I want to be joyful because, well, I AM joyful. 
 
The definition of Joy is:
  1. great happiness: feelings of great happiness or pleasure, especially of an elevated or spiritual kind
  2. something that brings happiness: a pleasurable aspect of something or source of happiness
  3. to enjoy something: to delight in something
I went to Bible Gateway and did a search for the word Joy and here is what I found...
 
*There are 66 references to Joy in Psalms.  And most of which have to do with shouting for joy and singing.  I feel like I do enough shouting around here but not of the joyful sort.  And I don't sing often enough but love to and need to more.
 
* Proverbs 12:20 tells us that those who promote peace have joy.  Are my words promoting peace?
 
* Proverbs 15:30 says, "Light in a messenger’s eyes brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones." Is there light in my eyes when I am a messenger to my children?  Or has the light grown dim and therefore brings no joy to my children's hearts or even those around me?
 
*Proverbs 29:3 says, "A man who loves wisdom brings joy to his father"  Do I love wisdom?
 
*John 15:10-12 reads "If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you."  Is God's love for others missing in my life? 
 
These are just a few of MANY verses that sort of stuck out to me.  And I think these verses provide enough insight for me to change my perspective on the journey to find joy once again. 
 
I pray you have a day filled with JOY! 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Little Book of Dates by Dr. Greg & Erin Smalley

First of all, this is a cute little book!  I certainly wasn't expecting to open up the mailing envelope to find a little pocket-sized leather-covered cutie!  It made me want to read it even more!  Anyone who is married knows how important it is to date your spouse (and if you aren't having regular date nights you should be...so start this week!).  However, when date night rolls around are you in a rut?  Do you always go to the same restaurant and do the same thing?  I have to admit my hubby and I are in a bit of a dating rut.  We usually just go out to dinner...which is nice but can be boring sometimes.  This book is just what we needed!  He doesn't know I have it so I am going to keep it my little secret and use some of these date night ideas on him! 

The subtitle of this book is 52 creative ideas to make you marriage fun which pretty much sums up this book.  There are 52 date night ideas that go beyond the normal dinner and movie type of date.  It includes a description of the date night them, but then also gives ideas for an activity that you could do to go along with that theme.  It also then includes a section where it lists questions that you can ask each other to build intimacy and trust in your marriage regarding the date you went on. 

I have to admit, some of the date night ideas seem a bit corny and my husband would probably think I was nuts if I pulled one of those date nights on him, but not every date idea is going to appeal to every couple.  So get the book, pick which dates you think would improve your marriage, and go on a date!  This would also be great to give a newlywed couple as a wedding gift!

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for this honest review.*

Friday, December 6, 2013

Real: Becoming a 24/7 Follwer of Christ by Jamie Snyder

Jamie Snyder's book, Real: Becoming a 24/7 Follower of Christ, really got me thinking about my own spiritual life.  And I think it will do the same for any reader.  He urges us to take an in-depth look at our life and examine whether our spiritual walk is real or if we have made it become religious and ritualistic.  In his book he asks us if people would be able to tell if we were a Christ-follower if they didn't see us at church.  In other words, has our spiritual walk been reduced to only Sundays?  If the answer to that question is yes then we have a problem...and it's time to deepen our walk. 

Real is a short book that is easy to read fairly quickly.  The chapters are short and to the point but truly challenge us to take part in self-reflection and encourage us to seek true intimacy with our Maker.  Each chapter also includes a few questions and a short prayer which makes this book a great one to read with a friend or group.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for this honest review.    

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Whispers In The Midst of Chaos

I have had a stressful past few days.  I had 2 stressful and busy days at work last week.  I had my parents over for a Thanksgiving meal last week.  I celebrated my son's 13th birthday (yes, your prayers are appreciated!)with a party at our house and the guest list included all 4 sets of our parents (both mine and my hubby's parents are divorced and remarried)...and they all came!  Don't get me wrong, I am happy they all came, but this was a first for us and let's just say there was some tension and anxiety because they don't all get along.  A few days ago my dryer stopped blowing hot air which making drying clothes a looong process.  (Even on the line...in the winter...in Ohio)  The kids have been nuts and fighting like crazy and I feel as if I have been demoted to the position of referee.  My hubby also started his winter shift at work, which means I am home alone with the kids and their fighting all evening.  Then yesterday I realize that there was a $1,172.12 charge on our checking account that did not belong to us so I spent the morning calling the bank, the Apple store, and filing a police report. 
 
I have been a bit stressed.  Today I got to thinking about stress.  Why do we allow ourselves to get stressed about events in our lives?  We do this because WE are trying to control our universe instead of letting the one who created the universe be in control.  All these things we stress about are out of our control.  Through all of the chaos, God is whispering to us "Be still and know that I am God..." (Psalm 46:10) but are we able to hear him through all of the noise swirling around in our head when we are stressed?  I haven't been able to hear the whispers.  But today I did.  Not only did he tell me to calm down but to also KNOW, not hope, that He is God and will take care of me, but KNOW it without a shadow of a doubt.  When we truly KNOW that, our stress seems to melt away. 
 
So when you are faced with a busy day at work....Be still and know that He is God.
 
When you are at home with your fighting kids and are counting the minutes until your hubby gets home and can relieve you of your duties....Be still and know that He is God.
 
When someone halfway across the country or perhaps even the world decided to steal your debit card number and buy themselves 2 iPhones, taking the money you were planning to use to pay your house payment....Be still and know that He is God. 
 
God is in control.  Stop stressing and looking at all the negative things that are happening and focus on the positives and stop to actually recognize how God is working it out. 
 
I pray you all remember this and have a great NON-stressful day today!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

My glimpse into a simpler life

It all started last night at about 8 pm. The power went out. I knew it was most likely inevitable because the news was reporting high winds and tornado-inducing weather to the west and heading our way. As always (well, not always, but usually) I had my son fill up our huge drink cooler that I think holds 5 gallon with water. You see, I live in the country...for you city folk, that means I have no water when the power goes out. None. Zilch. So I sort of freak out when I know there is a possibility we will be left in the dark...literally....and without water. (I have heard that it's no fun...you know from a friend...) And I should add that the power sort of flicked back on quickly and then back off and then we heard a loud POP...that came from the area of our living room tv. So I am anxiously awaiting the electric coming back on so we can know whether to mourn the loss of our less-than-1-year-old-flat-screen-tv. 

So at 8pm, we became pioneers, or pilgrims, or Amish or whatever term best describes people who live without power. The funny thing is that I have read books about becoming self-sufficient and people who live off-grid and it really intrigues me. But people who live off-grid usually have solar panels and alternatives ways to get water and stay warm and cook food. When you live in a house full of electrical well, everything it takes living off-grid to a whole new level. Once I would prefer not visit all that often.

First of all, it seems that the power always goes out at night...when you need light the most! So once the blackout hit my kids started to freak out a bit until I could get the candles lit. They begged to let them sleep in the living room because they were scared...and finally agreed. Then they were afraid to sleep in the living room without power. I kept a candle lit on the nearby dining room table so they would have some light to be able to see. And thank goodness it was a full moon because that helped too. While they got settled in their make-shift beds, hubby took his flashlight (he always has nice lights that he uses in the garage when doing mechanical work), grabbed a book off the shelf telling about our county's history and retreated to our bed to do some reading. I was clueless as to what to do. So I grabbed our new laptop and decided to play some games. Then we turned out the (flash)light and went to sleep.

And here I am at 6:59 am typing up this blog post on my computer because honestly I don't know what else to do. It's just now starting to get daylight outside, but not enough to really warrant any real productivity here inside. And since I feel like we are getting this off-grid living thing down to a science (well, sort of), I thought I would share what I've learned in the past 10 hours....

1. My husband always seems to have a good working flashlight to use when the rest of us are using candles that barely give off any light.

2. You may think you have batteries for flashlights, however when the power goes off they instantly disappear.

3. 5 gallons of water is not that much. Especially when you have to use that water to drink, wash your hands, brush your teeth, and flush the toilet. Mental note: next time fill up the bath tub too with water to do everything else with but drink and use the 5 gallons for drinking. Brilliant!

4. The house is very quiet when the power is off. At first it's hard to get used to, but now I am sort of enjoying the quiet. Although that's partly because the girls aren't awake yet...the quiet will end soon!

5. When you are taking a nice hot bubble bath, wash your hair! Don't wait until morning! Yep, I did that. Just wet my hair down and thought I would just wash it in the morning. Well, let's just say that I am going to be unrecognizable at my daughter's doctor appointment this morning. I have that just doesn't behave well if wet down and not blow-dried or flat-ironed. I have yet to assess the real damage under a decent amount of light but from the glimpse I've gotten in the mirror this morning, I've got my work cut out for me.

6. Living without power seems to make life more intentional...and simplified. When there aren't all the extra “electrified” distractions, you tend to slow down and stress melts away a bit (unless you haven't filled up your drink cooler with water). This morning I got up and got the milk and cereal, bowls, and spoons out for my hubby and son. I read a newspaper article by candlelight. I folded some laundry by candlelight. And put away some laundry via flashlight. I feel as if I have actually accomplished more this morning than I would have on a normal morning because I have been intentional about getting done what I can.

7. I really need to put together an emergency kit only to be used in emergencies. I want to get an oil lamp. And batteries! Our few little candles aren't really cutting it!

Those are just a few of things I've realized since 8pm last night and I am sure the list will grow as time goes on today and I am faced with new challenges. But honestly, living without electricity isn't about surviving, it's more about adapting. And so far, I think the Snyder Family has done fairly well! With that said, I'm off to tackle my hair! 

UPDATE:  Since this post was written, our power came on at 2pm on Monday.  Our TV didn't get zapped. However our modem/router did...so I had to live without internet all day Monday, Tuesday and most of the day today!  This morning I actually figured out that the surge protector that our modem was plugged into wasn't working properly and if I plugged in the modem at a different outlet it worked...as in lights turned on instead of being completely dead, but couldn't connect to the internet.  When I came home from work today the modem was working perfectly.  This is after hubby ordered a new modem online that should arrive tomorrow.  Such is life.  Oh yeah, and Monday I had the worst hairday of my life.  The End.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

What was I thinking??

So my last post filled you in on my commitment to keep my house clean and organized, right?  Well, I started with the kitchen yesterday.  And since it's hasn't been thoroughly (as in get out the toothbrush, mama!) cleaned, I decided to roll up my sleeves and get down and dirty.  I should add that I am reading an ebook that tells you step by step how to clean each room in your house.  As in what order to clean things (from ceiling to floor) and with what products (natural of course!).  So the book said to start with the trash can, so that's what I did.  First of all...ICK!  It's my opinion that the trash can should be last because once you've cleaned and disinfected the trash you are a bit grossed out!  Or maybe it's motivated to keep going since you've seen firsthand how nasty things have become?  Hmmm...it's a toss up, I think. 

So back to cleaning...I then started with removing everything, I mean everything from the cabinets.  Now, I was smart (if I do say so myself) and only did half of the cabinets.  But half of my cabinets is equal to most people's total cabinet space...so it's really like I have to clean 2 kitchens.  Anyways, out everything came and then I cleaned the inside with my Mr. Clean all-purpose cleaner (which I really like, by the way).  That part felt good.  Honestly I didn't really want to put anything back...I was ready to pack it all up and haul it off to Goodwill.  But then I would have empty cabinets so I decided to just save myself some money (from buying things to fill them up again) and keep my stuff.  I did however find a couple of bowl I never use and I'm giving a glass Pyrex dish to a friend who said she would use it.  I forgot to mention that I also cleaned out all the drawers!  A funny thing happens when you start doing that...you realize how much of it belongs somewhere else in your home.  For example I had 2 junk drawers...and one of which is going to be rehomed to the laundry room.  Which freed up a drawer...yippee!  I decided to use it to keep my ever-growing pile of papers that land on the counter and make it look cluttered.  We'll see how well it works...

After I cleaned out all the cabinets, I then put things back.  And moved things around.  So now I giggle when hubby goes to the "snack cupboard" to get a snack and finds our glass leftover containers instead.  It's like a scavenger hunt to find the snacks.  Honestly I still don't know where I put everything, but hopefully it will end up more efficient in the long haul!

Well, I need to get my family up for church this morning so I will end with saying that I was able to get the one side of my kitchen completely clean and I'm really dreading the other half!  lol  However, once you get started, it's a bit addicting to tackle the grime and rid your house of stuff you never use!  Sorry I didn't take any pictures...I will try to remember to next time!  Oh yeah, and I was so exhausted that I went to bed at 8:30pm last night!  Ha!

Happy Cleaning! :)

Friday, November 15, 2013

Commitment

First of all, I'm back!  I had been on a blogging hiatus for months because our computer started acting wacky and eventually died so that left me with my hubby's work computer (that was ALL the way in the garage...a uninspiring environment in my opinion...hubby would disagree) and my Kindle Fire where you could only type so much and I had to type with one-finger, which resulted in a normal 5-second Facebook comment or post taking more like 5 minutes!  It was oh so frustrating, but I am happy to report that I now have a laptop and I love it!  So I see lots more blogging in my future! 

I wanted to tell you about my commitment...to myself...and to my family...and to God.  I have taken a good look at my life and noted some areas that needed improvement and I am striving to make some changes in the right direction.

I want to use my time more wisely.  So I am limiting my time online.  The Internet is a great tool but it's sooooo easy to lose track of time and in doing so to lose out on having meaningful experiences with my family, housekeeping, and other things.  I just haven't been a good steward of my time, period. 

I have made a commitment to take better care of myself.  I was running quite a bit, but it's hard work.  I do enjoy a run now and then and it's a great workout, but I'm not sure I will be running any more long distance races anytime soon.  I signed up for my first half-marathon because I honestly didn't think I could do it...and I did...3 times!  So I am proud of my accomplishment, but running is not who I am.  And I really felt like it was taking a toll on my body.  I didn't want to have to worry about injuries and I felt like it was stressing my body to run higher amounts of miles.  I feel like I've let my running buddy down and I often feel left out when I hear about the races my friends have signed up for an are running, but I am sticking with my decision.  Could that change in the future?  Sure!  It's just at this point in my life I am just choosing to not be so engrossed with running.  So I have found joy in walking the dog or catching up with a neighbor while strolling down the road and enjoying God's creation, or working out here at home doing some cardio or strength training. 

I am also making a commitment to take better care of our finances.  I have always spent money haphazardly because we always had enough to cover our bills and I didn't really have to budget much.  But I honestly had no idea how much I was spending on food or gas.  So I set up a spreadsheet and I am tracking our monthly expenses...and it' been an eye opener!  Not only have I realized that what I THOUGHT I was spending on groceries and nowhere near accurate!  And the spreadsheet has made me really think about what I'm spending BEFORE I spend it.  Before spending money I think of other ways to meet that need instead.  I have never really had a plan for saving money and that's something I want to change.  Hubby and I have goals for our family and we can't achieve them if we aren't making a plan to save for them. 

I have also made a commitment to be a faithful servant of Christ.  I went through a period of feeling spiritual dry for the past year or so.  I didn't do my morning devotions.  I didn't read my Bible.  I didn't meditate.  And I prayed off and on, but mainly when the going got tough.  A couple of months ago my family chose to attend a different church and it has made a difference in my whole family.  We had nothing against our previous church of 11 years but it was just time for a change.  My kids now LOVE going to church and want to be involved in the extra activities.  I LOVE going to church and also want to be a part of extra activities.  Honestly it's the highlight of my week!  And I feel like I have grown so much in the short time I've been there.  I have also started getting up at 5:30am to do devotions and study the Bible.  I meditate.  I play worship songs all day long to fill my house with an atmosphere of praise.  I can see improvement in my kids' behavior and when I discipline or correct them I am trying to do it in a spirit of love and out of my desire for them to develop Godly character. 

I am also making the commitment to be a better homemaker.  My house has imploded and its time to take control.  I want to purge what we have, keep what we love and organize what gets kept.  I want to keep it clean on a regular basis...not just when company is coming over!  lol

Well, it's time for me to head to work but I wanted to give you a little update on what's been happening in my life during my hiatus!  I hope it has inspired you to take a look at your own life and make improvements where needed!  :)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Women Living Well by Courtney Joseph

Women Living Well by Courtney Joseph is a great book for any mom.  Ever feel like your life is out of balance?  Or maybe you don't know what honoring your husband looks like on a day-to-day basis?  Or how to set up a daily quiet time to read your Bible, pray or meditate?  Or even how to keep up with all the housekeeping with little ones running around?  Well, then you might want to pick this book up asap!  I was feeling all of those things before reading the book, but I can honestly say that after reading it I feel a renewed sense of motivation to get my life back in balance and strive towards the woman God has created me to be. 

The one thing I really liked about this book is that it is divided into 4 sections.  The first section is all about cultivating our spiritual lives.  The author gives you practical advice on how to set up a quiet time, as well as what one might do during that quiet time.  It gives steps on how to meditate.  One of the greatest pieces of information I received through this section was the Good Morning Girls Bible Studies.  The book directs you to their website (which was founded by Courtney Joseph) and I have found it to be such a great resource in my own life.  After years of struggling with creating a daily devotion time, I have gotten up early and studied the Bible fairly faithfully for the past two weeks!  For me, that is a HUGE accomplishment.  And I am actually learning from my time in the word, which I have also struggled with. 

The second section in the book is geared towards being a Godly wife and what it looks like to honor our husbands.  I found this section also to be helpful.  I did not come from a home where this was modeled for me.  I wanted to rule over my husband (Genesis, anyone?) and in the long run it really causes some wounds in our marriage.  Thankfully we have worked through those wounds and have a stronger marriage than ever, but so many of those wounds could have been avoided had I know what it looked like for a wife to truly honor her husband. 

The third section of the book is regarding parenting.  Again, I needed wisdom in this area also (I told you my life was out of balance!)  This section gives us advice on how to raise children who love God and how to create and atmosphere of love, but also boundaries, when parenting.

The last section of the book talks about Homemaking.  Did you know that moms set the tone of their houses?  If we are cranky then most likely our family will turn cranky too.  There are things we can do to help streamline our lives in this area that will create a haven of peace, love, and rest in our households. 

Are you convinced to the read the book yet?  If not, you should be!  This truly is a great book...and definitely one of the most enlightening books I have reviewed yet!  This one is for sure a keeper. I know there will be times when I will need to take this one back off of the bookshelf and refresh myself with its timeless truth and practicality. 

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Booksneeze in exchange for this honest review.  

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Intentional Parenting by Sissy Goff, David Thomas, & Melissa Travathan

I wanted to review this book because the sub title says "Autopilot is for planes."  And that sort of summed up my parenting at that moment.  I felt like I was parenting but not really getting to the heart of my child through daily interaction, conversation, and discipline.  I felt like I was on autopilot and I know that I was lacking joy in my parenting.

Intentional Parenting is written by three counselors who run a ministry called Daystar Counseling in Nashville, TN.  They share their experiences with children and parenting in their book to help the reader become a better, more informed parent.  They have found that most problems parents have with their children actually stem from the parent and their own actions. Each chapter is focused on a character quality that a parent should possess and together represent a complete well-balanced parent.  Each chapter also gives us practical advice on how to achieve that quality as well as examples from their own families and the families of those they counsel.  Once the parent corrects their own issues, they should expect to see their children's actions improve as well.

This book is very in-depth but really gets to the heart and soul of parenting.  In a society where good parenting legacies have been lost and children should be put on a pedestal instead of taught biblically how they should act, we parents need all the help we can get!  This book is full of great wisdom on how to be a well-balanced parent and raised well-balanced children!

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Booksneeze in exchange for this honest review.

Stranded by Dani Pettrey

I read this book in a weekend!  And I loved it!  Stranded is the 3rd book in the Alaskan Courage series and I was hesitant to read it since I had only read Book 1 in this series, but not Book 2.  Despite having skipped a book in the series, I was happy to discover that one could read this book without having read any of the previous ones! 

Darcy St. James is a adventure writer...meaning she writes stories on adventures sports, etc.  This career choice came after leaving the investigative reporter job that she felt conflicted with her faith.  But when her college friend and former undercover colleague Abby, who is working undercover as a chef on the Destiny cruise ship, contacts her regarding a lead she's following on the ship, Darcy finds herself stepping on board the ship as a journalist covering all the adventure excursions and activities the ship has to offer. But also has plans to help her friend with the information Abby has...although Abby never shows up for their scheduled meeting so she can catch Darcy on her findings.  She finds out later that someone has gone overboard and that her friend had also decided to quit her job on the ship.  Darcy wonders if the two could be related, and even if they aren't, it's not like Abby to walk away from a case she is following.  Darcy knows something is up and starts asking questions in hopes of finding her friend but no one is giving answers...like they are hiding something.  Could it be Abby they are hiding?  Darcy is determined to find out.

Dani Pettrey's book Stranded is a book chock-full of faith and mystery.  Her writing style is easy to follow and puts you right into the midst of the story as it unfolds.  I can't wait to read more of her books!

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for this honest review.
 

Willing To Walk On Water by Caroline Barnett

Willing To Walk On Water is a great book to read for anyone who is struggling with what God's calling is on their life.  Caroline shares her story of how she went from feeling fearful and unworthy to understanding God's call for her personally.  As she gave up her fears she came to realize that SHE was not the miracle worker, but GOD is.  Throughout this book Caroline shares countless stories of how God used her to reach out to others and allow God to touch their lives forever.  Caroline and her family are a part of The Dream Center, a volunteer-run outreach organization in Los Angeles, that supplies food and support to underpriviledged families.  In many underpriviledged families, when
social services are contacted because of one reason or another, the parent or parents is required to make certain changes and/or improvements in their home or lifestyle.  Usually these changes require skills or finances in order to make it happen, both of which these parents lack.  Sadly, when these requirements aren't met, often the children are removed from the home and the family is split apart.  And this happens in homes where the parents are loving and are doing the best they can or know how, but it's just not enough.  That's where The Dream Center comes in.  They not only help to supply them with the physical things needed, but they also help to give the sills and knowledge they need in order to improve their situation.  When this happens, not only are the parents forever grateful, they also are able to keep their children in their homes and their family together. 

This book is full of stories of how The Dream Center has used ordinary people like me and you, to help those in need.  If you are ever doubtful of God's ability to work through you, please read this book!  It is a great inspiration to those who feel not good enough or unworthy to be used!

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale Publishers in exchange for this honest review.

The Secret Keeper by Beverly Lewis

I really enjoyed Secret Keeper by Beverly Lewis and read it in just a few days!  This is the first of Beverly Lewis's books that I have read mainly because I live in the heart of Amish Country, Ohio and was not interested in reading about their daily lives in story form since I see them on nearly a daily basis.  However, this book intrigued me when I read that it was about an English girl who longed to become Amish.  I have often wondered if it were even possible for an English man or woman to join the Amish Community and whether or not they would ever be accepted if they were able to join.  That is precisely what this book is about.  Jenny Burns lives in Connecticut and has always been interested in the Plain People.  However, her family always made light of it until one day when Jenny tells them she is leaving and has sold all of her belongings...but doesn't tell them where she is going until a couple of weeks later.  Through a newfound Amish friend, Marnie, who she met at a Farmer's Market a few years ago, Jenny was given the opportunity to live with an Amish family and learn their ways.  She can get a first-hand look into Amish life and decide whether or not it is something she would like to pursue.  During those first few weeks she knows without a doubt that Hickory Hollow is the place for her!  Her family of course things she's crazy, and sometimes she wonders herself if she is, but it feels like home to her. 

Her hosts, Samuel and Rebecca Lapp, are gracious hosts and wonderful teachers, but Rebecca Lapp has a secret.  Jenny catches Rebecca doing something that is not accepted in the Community and she asks Jenny to keep it a secret from the bishop.  But later the bishop inquires as to whether she knows anything regarding it and Jenny is forced to decide.  Should she tell the bishop and ruin Rebecca or should she keep the secret and risk not being found worthy at The Proving, where the bishop decides if she possesses enough qualities to become Amish?  Jenny has a hard decision to make, but all the while she leans on God to help her through and to know what is best for her. 

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for this honest review.

Angels In The Fire by Dann Stadler

Dann and Tracey Stadler left Tracey's parent's house ready to celebrate their fourth anniversary.  Little did they know that on their way home their lives would be forever changed.  They were hit head-on by a drunk drive who was traveling the wrong way on I-95.  The wreck was tragic but that exactly when the miracles began. And an angel appeared to help free Tracey from the wreckage when no one else could and the car was engulfed in flames.  Tracey saw him and so did bystanders who were assisting with the rescue.  There was no denying he was there and had saved Tracey's life. 

Although Dann & Tracey were unsure of what their future would look like following their injuries, one thing they knew for sure; everything would be OK.  God had saved them and had a plan for them. 

Angels In The Fire chronicles The Stadler's life and the miracles that continued to take place long after that tragic day.  It is an encouraging story to someone who may be doubtful that God exists.  I really enjoyed this book!

*I received a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for this honest review.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Jennifer by Dee Henderson

Jennifer O'Malley is a pediatrician practicing in Texas.  She is not looking for love, however love finds her through another physician named Tom.  They quickly develop a comfortable friendship, but along the way they both start to feel something more for each other.  Tom also encourages Jennifer to come to his church, which starts the beginning of her spiritual walk, where she finds God and eventually get baptized.  Once they both acknowledge their love for each other they start talking about marriage.  Then something happens that changes it all and leaves Jennifer wondering if God really loves her at all. 

I was really excited to review this book!  I knew of Dee Henderson and have only heard good things about her books so I was stoked to get my hands on Jennifer.  (Not to mention I happen to like the title...)  When I opened up the padded envelope fresh out of the mailbox, I was surprised at how small the book was.  It is the same size as those little "gift" books.  I don't know about you, but that was a let down.  I was ready to dig into a nice big (or at least normal-sized) novel.  The book is 154 small pages long.  Despite my disappointment I started reading it anyhow, and enjoyed the story.  In my opinion the only downfall was the size of the book/length of the story, which did not allow for much detail to be put into the story itself which makes it seem sort of rushed.  The story ends on a bit of a cliff hanger which I guess continues on into the original O'Malley series, which I hope to start reading soon!


*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for this honest review. 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Recipe Adventures #21: German Apple Pancake

I just whipped this up for breakfast this morning and it turned out excellently!  I have had this dish before when we stayed at a local B&B several years ago called The Lamplight Inn and was wowed by it.  Actually since we are talking about The Lamplight Inn, I must say that we had an amazing time there.  Everything about the inn was so nice and relaxing.  The innkeeper plays piano and sings each night and the seranade continues in the morning during a super-yummy breakfast.  Not mention I had the best night's sleep EVER in the bed that was in our room!  So good in fact that we actually bought a mattress just like the one we had slept on!  If you are ever in the Berlin, Ohio area and need a place to stay, be sure to check out the Lamplight Inn..you won't be disappointed!  They actually have several other yummy recipes that they serve to guests on their website!  They know how to cook a mean breakfast so I'm sure all the dishes are yummy!

*Once you read the recipe, you will realize that this is NOT necessarily healthy!  But sometimes you just gotta indulge, you know?

Now, back to the recipe....

German Apple Pancake

Pancake Mixture:
4 lg eggs (at room temperature)
3/4 c milk
3/4 c flour
1/2 t salt
1 t baking powder

Mix together until frothy and set aside.

Apple Filling:
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced thin
1 t lemon juice
1/3 c sugar
1/4 c brown sugar, firmly packed
1 t cinnamon

Mix lemon juice with sliced apples.  Add sugars and cinnamon; mix thoroughly.  Microwave for 3 mins to soften the apples.  Set aside.

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Place 4 T butter in a glass 9x13 baking dish.  Place in oven until butter is melted.  Spread apples over the butter, then pour the pancake mixture evenly over the apples.

Bake 15-17 mins.  Meanwhile, prepare Vanilla Cream Sauce and pour over pancakes once done baking.  Serve immediately.

Vanilla Cream Sauce:
1 c firmly packed brown sugar
1 c light Karo
1 c heavy whipping cream.

Heat in saucepan over medium-heat heat until it comes to a full boil.  Remove from heat and add 1 t vanilla.


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Recipe Adventures #20: Pig Licking Cake

Ok, I know what you're thinking...Pig Licking Cake?  Don't let the name turn you away from this yummy dessert.  I assure you there was NO pig licking involved in the making of this cake!  I seriously wonder where that name came from by the way...

As always, I forgot to snap a picture of it...but it's good and looks pretty too!

Pig Licking Cake

2 lg cans mandarin oranges or 3 small cans
1 Yellow cake mix
1/4 c. oil
1 egg

Frosting:
1 container Cool Whip
1 can crushed pineapple, drained
1 box vanilla pudding.

Mix the cake ingredients together (do not drain oranges!).  Pour into a greased 9x13 cake pan and toss it in the oven.  Bake according to the directions on the cake box.  Let cool completely.

Mix the frosting ingredients together and spread over the cooled cake.  Keep refrigerated until time to serve.

This is a great dessert to take to cookouts this summer!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Getting Used to My New Routine

Well, it's been a little over a week since the hubster started his new job away from home and I think I'm FINALLY getting into the swing of things.  Last week was super-ultra crazy at my job with Mother's Day so it was a bit of a blur, but this week is a bit slower and I feel like I'm finally settling in to our new family dynamic.  Thank Goodness...I really don't like change!

So today is my 2nd day that I've had with no hubby and no kids at home during the day!  I'm loving this free time!  Not that it's really free...because I end up cleaning and doing laundry and such, but it just feels good to only take of myself for a total 8 hr period!  I'm sorry if that sounds selfish, but I haven't had this for literally 12 years since Evan was born.  And it will end once again next Friday when the kids are home from school for the summer.

One thing I have to be wary of is that I need to use my time wisely and actually get something done around here!  My house is driving me nuts and I'm in the mood to just organize everything.  A hefty task, I know.  And when I get in that mood, I end up having soooo many things I want to do that I try to start all at one time....which results in a house that looks way worse than when I started.  That is never a good thing.  So here is what I would like to accomplish TODAY (ok, maybe over the next week):

1.  Vacuum & Shampoo the living room carpet.  Last time I shampooed the carpet (just a month or so ago), I didn't realize until AFTER I was done that the soap wasn't dispensing AND it wasn't sucking up the extra water.  So I'm going to try again.  And if I have enough time I would like to shampoo the hallway and my bedroom.

2.  Bake muffins for Allie's class.  I'm in the middle of this task so I can almost cross it off my list already!

3.  Pay some bills & balance my checkbook.  Need I say more?

4.  I would LOVE to pressure wash the porch.  This one may have to wait until I'm under hubby's supervision.  Last time I tried to use the washer by myself I hooked it up wrong and ended up with a huge bruise on my leg when the hose flew off the washer at great force.  Not fun.  So I'm bit gun-shy of trying to use it on my own again!  lol

5.  Get ALL the laundry washed, dried, and folded.  Enough said!

6.  Start packing bags for this weekend.  

7.  Mop the kitchen floor.

8.  Wash down and paint foyer walls.

9.  Plant my garden.

Ok, I think that's enough for now!  That's more than enough to keep me busy for the next week!  Guess I will have prioritize a bit!

This weekend the kiddos are going to their grandma's and hubby and I are heading to Cleveland for the Rite Aid Half Marathon.  I'm both excited and nervous.  My IT Band has been really hurting towards the end of my last two long runs and I'm nervous about how it will react to 13 miles on Sunday.  I really hate the thought of having to walk the last part of the race, yet I don't want to have a serious injury either.  I guess I will just see what happens and then decide.  Other than my knee, I'm really excited about the rest of the weekend!  We are going with another couple and planning to go to the race expo, then to a casino (my first casino trip!), then to dinner to carbo-load, then bed, then RACE DAY!  After the race we will probably get some lunch before heading home.  I'll try to catch some pics to post when I get home!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

I've Been Thinking...

There has been so many things going on the past couple of weeks my head has been spinning.  This week is a busy one, however this was hubby's 2nd day at his new job and we are slowing starting to get used to the transition....thank goodness!  I also had today off which means I'm COMPLETELY alone ALL DAY.  And I love it!  Not that I don't miss my hubby and kiddos, but I've just been so busy lately that I haven't had much time to just rest, let alone be...well...alone!  After I put the girlies on the bus I decided to head out on a 5-mile training run.  Last week I was only able to run 3.1 miles all week and that was only because I had signed up for a 5K.  And I have to work the rest of the week (and some days will be long ones...10-12 hrs, etc), so I knew I needed to take advantage of the time I had and get runnin'!  It felt great.  I didn't push myself super hard, and I walked when I felt like I needed to catch my breath but running is just so great for your mind.  When you are able to clear your mind, guess what happens?  You have empty space in there where all the junk used to be!  So what did I do?  Yup...I started thinking again.  I read something recently about fat loss that intrigued me.  Mainly because I feel fat.  I know I have muscle on my body, but it's just not noticeable because I have a layer of fat all over.  So naturally I want to lose this fat.  

What I read was that consumption of sugar and carbs messes with our blood sugar, which in turn triggers our insulin levels to increase to deal with the increased sugar in our blood.  Insulin is a fat storing hormone.  Now, I'm not a nutritionist by any standards, but I get it.  The more sugar and carbs I eat, the more fat I am going to store on my body.  Ugh.  And when I really think about my diet, I eat alot of carbs...and sugar in the form of evaporated can juice, honey, etc.  Even though my sugar-alternatives are better for me than white sugar, I'm pretty sure my body doesn't really know the difference between them in my blood.  Ever since reading that information, I'm starting to really feel inspired to try it.  And honestly it goes along with my goal to eat healthier..namely more fruits and veggies.  Yesterday for lunch I had some fresh strawberries and pineapple, a homemade granola bar (you can find the recipe HERE), and some California Blend veggies with some Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.  And you know what?  It wasn't bad.  And I didn't feel as run down by the afternoon/early evening.  

My dilemma is that this week is going to be BUSY.  And I'm at the end of my 2-week grocery budget, which means I won't be buying much/any groceries until next week.  So I'm going to have to get creative on what I can eat.  And I'm not going to go all gung-ho either.  I just want to really start to make conscious decisions about what I am consuming.  And I also need to do some more research about foods & recipes that fit this lifestyle.  

When I got home from my run I hopped onto Facebook to see what was going on and found an interesting article that a friend has posted.  You can find the article HERE.  It sort of goes along with what I read, but gives more of the long-term effects of eating sugar and simple carbs.  

I will keep you posted on how it goes!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Stressin'

I've been a wreck for about the past week.  My husband recently took a new job and will start in a couple of weeks.  This has been a long time coming.  He applied in February and just got the call with the job offer.  Now that it's OFFICIAL, I'm starting to freak out about what our life is going to look like with him no longer being home on a daily basis.  On top of that huge transition (that also takes place on the busiest week of the year where I work) and all the issues that arises because of that, we have a MILLION ZILLION things that need done.  We're getting fair pigs this week.  We need to sell our old van since we bought a new one.  We have unofficially purchased a work car for hubby so he won't have to spend a ton of dough on gas driving to and from work and need to do all the necessary paperwork to make that all legal.  (we will be working in the same town, but our hours are too different to ride together).  Allie would like to run track this year and it starts next month.  We need to put more wood chips on the garden.  I need to put fertilizer on the strawberries.  We need to put sand in the pig pen.  I need to get our coop ready for peeps that will be coming in 2 weeks.  I have bills to pay, paperwork to fill out, and appointments to make for the kiddos at the dentist and eye dr before their insurance runs out at the end of May.  We have almost a half of a beef that will be ready soon (also on the same week that hubby starts his job AND I will be working a ton) that needs to fit into our already-full freezer.  

I know these things seem so minor, but they are all weighing on me at once and I literally feel like I can't breathe sometimes.  I need to just have a good cry, but quite honestly, I don't have time.  This morning's run didn't even help to relieve the stress...and that's bad.  I just feel like I'm drowning in all the normal day-to-day maintenance stuff that needs done around here that I can't get to all the things listed above!  There just are not enough hours in the day it seems!  And things seem ultra-bleak this week because I have today and Sunday off and I work the rest of the week.  So alot of these things are going to get crammed into the evenings...and they are already filling up quickly!  

So what am I going to do?  I'm going to take it one day at a time.  Do what I can in that day.  Try really hard not to stress about the things that didn't get done because tomorrow is a new day.  On a good note, I did lose 1.2 lbs since last Monday.  And the sun is shining.  So I'm going to quit complaining.  I thought maybe it would do me good to get this all out because I've been holding it in for awhile.  I think I do feel better....

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Chocolate Covered Baloney (The Confessions of April Grace) by KD McCrite

I decided to review this book because it is written for young girls and I thought my daughter and I could enjoy reading it together. Once we started reading it, I was somewhat surprised by the content of the book.  The book centers around the main character, April Grace Reilly, and her family as they experience some unexpected and crazy situations.

I was really disappointed in this book.  I know it is written for younger girls, however a lot of the book is comprised of sibling rivalry with April's sister, Myra Sue.  The book contains lots of name-calling and disrespectful speech that we do not allow in our house, so why would I want my daughter to read it?  Luckily my daughter quickly lost interest in the book.  One reason I wanted to read this book with my daughter was because it was a Christian book, however there is much of anything faith-wise in it.  I would not recommend this book for young girls.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Booksneeze in exchange for this honest review.

Lord, I Give You This Day by Kay Arthur


Lord, I Give You This Day by Kay Arthur is a great little devotional.  It features 366 one-page entries so you have one for each day of the year...even on a Leap Year!  Each entry is also dated, so if you happen to miss a day or two you can pick up and know exactly where to read next according to what day it is.  Even though the book is smaller than a normal book  which means the pages are smaller, each entry is deeply rooted in God's Word and gets you thinking!  I read devotions before where the entries are just cutesy little short stories with a scripture verse.  I think those are annoying.  When I do my morning devotions I want to dig deep and glean wisdom out of what I am reading.  I want that wisdom to be on my mind during the day...urging me to make better choices and to walk closer to God each day.  I think this devotional does just that.

I had the privilege of hearing Kay Arthur speak in person several years ago and she is amazing.  Her urgency to help other women and her authenticity about her own life is something I will never forget.  This devotional is like getting to hear her speak to me each and every day!

To go to Kay Arthur's website, CLICK HERE

"I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review."

Your Beautiful Purpose by Susie Larson

This book is a great book for women who are in need of encouragement.  Women who need to know that God has created them for a purpose.  The author does a wonderful job of taking you step by step on a journey to discovering God in our lives.  She urges us to find God at work in our lives, even when we feel like He's forgotten about us.  God has a plan for each of us, but we need to discover what that plan is.  And it looks different for each one of us.  That task alone can seem daunting, but Susie helps to get us looking for ways God is using us.

This book is divided into sections, each containing 2 chapters.  The first chapter instructs us and gives us wisdom for how God works.  The second chapter gives us a task to work on.  (Getting rid of fear, etc)  And ways to work on that task.  At the end of every chapter there are discussion questions which makes this book a great addition to any women's group.

I really liked Susie's writing style and how she is so open and authentic in this book.  She's been where where are and she shares her journey of finding God in her life.  She shares some struggles and some triumphs and lessons she has learned along the way. God is using her to help other women reach their potential and fulfill the plan God has laid out for them.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for this honest review.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Recipe Adventures #19: Whole Wheat PB Chocolate Chip Cookies

The non-whole wheat version of this recipe has been a favorite of mine for years.  My sister in law makes the BEST cookies in the entire world and she gave me this recipe.  Of course mine don't taste like hers, but each time I make them, it reminds me of her.  She currently is living in Mozambique, Africa so we don't get to eat her cookies anymore.  (Insert sad face here...)  

I also feel a bit guilty sending cookies in for my daughter's snack since they aren't very nutritious, so I modified the recipe so it was whole-wheat and it made me feel a bit less guilty.  

Whole Wheat PB Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 c. butter
3/4 c. evaporated cane juice
3/4 c. sucanat
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
1 c. Jif Natural PB
2 c. whole wheat flour (I used hard red wheat)
2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips

Mix sugars, butter and eggs together.  Add pb & vanilla.  Sprinkle the soda and salt onto mixture, then add flour.  Pour in the choc chips. Bake at 375 degrees for about 9 mins on a baking stone.  Remove from oven and let set on stone for approx 5 mins to firm up.  

Enjoy! :)

It's Monday Already?

I don't know about you, but our weekends seems to FLY by!  I worked both Friday and Saturday so I think that had something to do with it going by even more quickly.  The weekend was busier than normal (which I both love and hate).  Friday I worked until 6 pm then headed to the girls' elementary school for the Spring Fling and didn't get home until after 8 pm.  I woke up bright and early on Saturday and took the girls to my MIL's (mother-in-law's) house.  She had asked if she could take all three kids shopping...yes, she is a brave woman!  After dropping them off (Evan had spent the night at a friend's house and was being dropped off at my MIL's), I headed to work.  I worked until 3, then changed into my running clothes and met Jenny at our local Rails-To-Trails for our 9-Miler.  I must tell you that I was NOT looking forward to running it.  I had so many other things I would rather have been doing!  But it must be done, so I did it.  Midway through the run I started getting indigestion and having a hard time breathing properly due to the lunch I ate that apparently had not digested fully.  So I struggled through the last half.  And Jenny's hip started hurting.  So it was just one of those runs that we would consider as "crappy."  (Yes, I think that is a technical term...)  On a positive note, the weather was perfect.  It was overcast, but in the high to low 50's and it was perfect to run in!

After my run, I went through McD's to buy a chocolate milk (and yes, I hate paying $1 for a TINY little bottle of milk, but I was stupid desperate) for my post-run fuel and then to my MIL's to pick up the kiddos.  I visited for awhile and headed home (after getting milk and filling the tank with gas).  So I didn't get home until after 7 pm.  

Yesterday I woke up and begged persuaded my neighbor to go on a walk with me and we ended up doing 4 miles.  It was nice to get some exercise and catch up on happenings in each other's lives.  I came home and off we went to church.  Our church is doing a series right now called My Story and it's just downright awesome.  Each week features different people in our church who share their story and how God has changed them and worked through them.  I just love it!  

Here are the links if you'd like to watch them for yourself!



After church we did a bit of shopping in town mainly to kill time because we didn't need to be at my FIL's house until 2 for a late lunch.  After that we came home and I totally vegged out.  I wasn't feeling the best and just need to relax after such a crazy weekend!

This morning I'm on a roll!  I got up and started making cookies for Allie's class snack today.  I will share the recipe for my Whole Wheat PB Chocolate Chip Coookies in my next post!  

I also got on the scale.  174.  OUCH.  HOWEVER, I know why.  And I am totally to blame.  It's called PIE.  Yep.  Remember that Raspberry Cream Cheese Pie we brought home from the Amish Bakery?  Well, I've indulged in a piece of it every single night since then.  I didn't want it to go to waste!  Well, I am done with pie....even though there are 2 pieces still left in the fridge.  No more pie for me!  Desperate times call for desperate measures...I am starting to count calories this week.  I hate counting calories, however I bought a cute little notebook at Family Dollar yesterday for a buck and now I'm all motivated to use it as my food journal... 


Isn't it cute?
It's amazing how strong of a motivator polka dots can be!  


I am also using My Fitness Pal to help me calculate what my daily calorie intake should be and how many calories are in the foods I eat.  It's been an eye-opening experience!  I was figuring up how many were in my favorite Chocolate PB Banana Smoothie and it shocked me!  So I made some adjustments (because I hate consumed it yet) to cut the cals down a bit.  Right now my daily intake is set for 1550, although I'm thinking that might be too high.  I figure I'll try it for a week and see how much I lose and then adjust it accordingly.  I've set my goal to lose 1 lb per week.  

Happy Monday!


Thursday, April 11, 2013

My Post-Indulgent Birthday Workout

Who wants to work out on their birthday?  Don't get me wrong, I actually do like to work out, but it's the last thing I think of doing on my birthday!  But with birthdays come unhealthy eating.  And in my case that means fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, rolls, cake, ice cream, chocolates, pizza, and garlic bread!  Oh yeah...and I can't forget my bowl of cereal with milk I had for breakfast!  Ha!  I don't even want to think about how many calories were consumed today...but hey, I only have a birthday once a year, right?

Hubby and I spent the day shopping in Amish Country.  Seriously, that is the last place my husband normally wants to spend the day...mainly because of all of the tourists and horrible traffic.  Today both were minimal so it was actually nice to enjoy our own county without having to share it with tourists and quirks!

We started off by going to a couple of stores that sell outdoor patio tables.  I really want to get one that is made from a poly material that will hold up in the weather and won't need to be replaced for 20 years.  With that, comes a hefty price...OUCH.  All that shopping made us work up an appetite so we headed to a local Amish restaurant for lunch.  I had a hankerin' for fried chicken, so that's what I got...along with the mashed potatoes & gravy.  I opted for green beans instead of noodles as my second side dish. (can you say CARBS?)  However, I was so enraptured with my fried chicken and potatoes and rolls (complete with that yummy gooey Amish peanut butter) that I was stuffed and had completely forgotten about the beans.  So they went uneaten. After that we went next door to the Amish Bakery and bought an apple pie and a raspberry cream pie.  (Btw - it is way cheaper to buy a whole pie than to pay for 2 slices at the restaurant.  It was $2.99 per slice and we got 2 whole pies for $14!)  

After that we did some more shopping, then headed home.  When I got home, my mom and sister were here.  With a cake.  And strawberry swirl ice cream.  So I had some.  It's rude to not eat a bday cake someone has bought for you, right?  It was good but boy was I stuffed!  We visited for awhile and the kiddos started complaining that they were hungry.  It was 7:30 and we hadn't eaten dinner.  And I really didn't want to make dinner.  So we ordered pizza.  Hubby offered to make the drive to pick up the pizza and I decided to hop on the treadmill for a quick workout.  I still needed to do a 3 mile run this week and was totally planning to complete the 3 miles before hubby came home.  But since it's only a 10 minute drive to town, that didn't happen.  I also wanted to incorporate something else with the running for some interval training.  So I decided to to burpees.  I hate burpees.  My plan was to split the run into 1/4 mile increments (at a 5.5-6.0 mph) and then do burpees in between starting with 12 and then counting down to 1 by the end of the 3 miles.  I ended up doing only 1.5 miles and a total of 57 burpees.  I'm totally proud of that 57!!  That's a lot of burpees!!  I'm anxious to see if I'll be sore from them tomorrow!

After my workout, I consumed some pizza and garlic bread.  And now, as the kids are heading to bed, hubby is cracking open the raspberry cream pie.  So I must indulge.  Tomorrow is a new day....my un-birthday...which means I'll be jumping back on to the bandwagon of healthier living...no more special treatment & over-indulging! 

Happy Birthday To Yours Truly

Yep, I'm officially 34 years old now.  Not sure how I feel about it.  I don't feel 34.  Honestly, I feel about 25.  It's like my life has been so full of running a household and raising kids and nurturing my marriage that it's like someone has pushed the fast-forward button on my life and here I am.  Where did the time go?  I'm here in Middle-Age-Dom like I've been teleported here.  One minute I was in my 20's and here I am 34.  

So I have two choices...

1.  To complain that I'm 34 and wish I was 20 again and dwell on all of the should-have, could-haves...OR

2.  I can be truly humbled that God has given me the life He has and be oh-so-thankful that's He has given me another year to enjoy it.  I have a great hubby, 3 great kids,  my health, lots of friends, a nice house, a dependable vehicle, plenty of food in my pantry, and my bills are paid.  
What more could a girl woman want?

FYI...I chose Option #2. 

On a much less serious note, hubby has taken the day off today and told me we can do whatever I want....how cool is that?  Of course, I chose shopping!  You should have seen the look on his face!  PRICELESS.   

Have a great day!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Recipe Adventures #19: Bacon, Egg, & Cheese Sandwiches

I just tried this recipe out this morning and it's really good!  Despite being in a cooking rut in general, I think I am in dire need of new recipes for breakfast.  And this is a great one!  The only downfall being that you use refrigerated crescent roll dough (processed and made with white flour).  BUT I had a couple of cans of them in my fridge that needed used up and this was a great way to do it!  I also had some turkey bacon that I had cooked last week that needed used up.  I love not wasting food!!  (Or should I call it repurposing?)  I recently came across a recipe for making your own crescent rolls but haven't tried them out...maybe that could be a Recipe Adventure in itself!!  

Anyways, I found this recipe on Pinterest while searching for some breakfast ideas.  The original recipe is from All Recipes.com. 

Bacon, Egg & Cheese Sandwiches
1 can refrigerated crescent rolls
8 slices bacon, crisply cooked & crumbled.  (I used turkey bacon that I cut up)
4 eggs, scrambled (I scrambled them as usual with a bit of milk)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 egg, beaten (optional)  OOPS!  Just realized that I didn't use the egg...nor did I even see it on the recipe!
1 Tbsp cracked black pepper...didn't use this either




Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Unroll dough on a cookie sheet or baking stone and separate into triangles.


Top each triangle with some eggs, bacon, and cheese.  Roll up loosely.  Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with pepper.  Bake 18 mins until golden brown.  


YUMMY!  But anything made with crescent rolls is yummy....