Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Take Two


I just finished doing my 2011 goal vlog and I look like this (minus the cleavage).

You think I'm kidding? I'm tempted to put a screen shot, but I won't. I've always had a wrinkly forehead, it's in the genes, but the lighting was just perfect for a Klingon effect. I'll just spare you, okay?

So I will attempt to do it again tomorrow with better lighting. It's ALWAYS about lighting, isn't it?

Are you ready for 2011? Do you have some goals? In the past, I got to a point in my life where I stopped making goals for the New Year. Why? Because I thought it was a joke. After years, and years of making goals only to sabotage them before the week's end, I was done.

It wasn't until 2009 something clicked.  I was pretty ticked with how I felt and I made a crazy goal I honestly didn't think I could do. I guess I was mocking myself and the whole New Years Resolution idea. But the joke was on me.

During the year, I learned there is power in January 1st when you make a goal for 365 days. At any point during the year, I was able to find out what day I was on because it was the same as the day of the year! For instance, the 214th day of 2009 I did my 214th workout. Simple math. The numbers worked well with my OCD. I couldn't miss a day because the numbers would be off, and that would have driven me nuts. There was just enough incentive not to miss a day because I knew if I did, the whole goal would have been over, and I was kind of enjoying watching the numbers add up. I'm compulsive like that.

I've learned that I need to workout daily to keep in shape and to stay healthy because I'm full of excuses. One missed day turns into two turns into a week....  There is ALWAYS a reason not to workout. Always. Making such a goal kills the lame excuses I come up with and really, isn't it always an excuse that keeps us from our goals?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Getting ready for 2011

I'm getting ready for 2011.  I have some ideas and goals I want to share with you.  I will have a vlog up tomorrow with my thoughts and plan of action. :)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Pondering goals for 2011

I worked out every single day in 2009.  Yep, 365 workouts in a row.  I dropped 40 pounds and had an awesome habit formed.  At the end of the year, I was very pleased with my loss and happy with my health status.  My BMI was in the healthy range and I was wearing clothes I hadn't seen in a while.  All WIN, right? Right.

One thing held me back from utter bliss though.  I needed to loose another 10-20 pounds to have a comfortable distance from the line that separates "Healthy" and "Overweight" on the BMI chart. I was at a healthy weight, but a few pounds gained would put me into Unhealthy Land.  Too close for comfort.

In 2010 I started to write.  With all the excitement, I cut out exercise so I could have more time for writing.  MISTAKE!! I've gone flabby and can see how missed daily exercise makes a huge difference with my body. I'm only up a few pounds on the scale, but what difference it makes when you aren't as toned. 

Thus, I'm thinking about making another 365 day workout goal that I'll blog and vlog about along the way. 

Monday, December 13, 2010

It's my birthday!

Today is my birthday! It's been a wonderful day filled with birthday visits, phone calls, emails, Facebook posts and Tweets.  I honestly feel loved.

Talking about birthdays and generations, my hubby had a fun idea of seeing birthday years through car designs.  I thought it would be fun to see and started to Google.  It's pretty crazy to see how technology changes with each generation.

We thought we'd go with Fords since they've been around for all the birthdates involved. For those who know me personally, they are laughing at our car choice. (I'm a 100% Honda gal.)
1913 -The year my grandfather was born.  (He's still living an independent lifestyle and grows a fully functional garden. I hope I have some of his longevity genes.)

1947 - The year both our fathers were born.

1973 - The year yours truly was born. (Yeah, skip the math already) Thanks.

1999 - Year we started having children.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Persimmon Snack

During this time of year, my grandfather has a tree FULL of persimmons.  We use some for Thanksgiving when my mom makes her famous Persimmon Chocolate Chip Cookies--everyone looks forward to them. But after the big meal, we have a lot of fruit left to get creative with.

The downside of the Hachiya Persimmons is that they are astringent until they are fully ripe.  If you wait for them to ripen on the tree, you have oodles of persimmons ready to eat NOW and it's impossible to keep up with them since they are fragile when ripe. So you have to pick them when they are still hard and wait for them to ripen. And wait, and wait, and wait...

You might wonder what astringent tastes like? Imagine sucking on your toner saturated cotton ball after washing your face. *Pucker up* Hachiya's are very deceptive too.  On the outside, they look yummy and ready to eat. But they are very astringent until they are squishy with ripeness.

The following were picked two weeks ago and are still hard as rocks.  Aren't they pretty? One little lick and you'd be gagging.

One thing you can do instead of waiting for these babies to ripen is to dehydrate them. For some reason, even though they are hard and bitter, after they are dehydrated, the astringency is gone and a sweet, nutritious, dried treat remains.

**Not to be confused with the Fuyu Persimmon. (Below) They are sweet when they are hard. Notice how they have flat, pointless bottoms unlike the Hachiya above.  They're ready to eat as soon as they turn orange.  I tend to get impatient so I have to admit, I like the Fuyu better.  I think we might have to plant a tree too. (I've gobbled a couple of these already today.)

Check out this great Wiki article about persimmons. 

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Writing & Weight Loss

Are you curious why I've been talking about writing on my weight loss blog?  Let me take a moment to explain how they are connected.

When I started blogging about weight loss last year, I was in the middle of my 2009 challenge of working out 365 days in a row.  I successfully finished that challenge December 31, 2009. *throws confetti*

During my daily workouts, I found my time on the elliptical as a perfect reading opportunity. It also passed the time. I was going through a lot of books and it was my love of reading that began to spark my interest in writing.

Writing has become an activity I have grown passionate about.  With passion, grows new habits.  While working on a story, my mind is consumed with plot, characters and setting, not food. :) Unfortunately, editing and revision sometimes brings snacking. :(  [I'm still working on this]

As the title of this blog suggests, I write about my weight loss journey. The lessons learned, habits created and new interests found I share here with you because they are a part of the journey, my journey.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Writer Crisis & Review

I was going to blog about this, but vlogging is so much easier, right?

Monday, November 22, 2010

It's been 14 years! Our special tradition.

Just thought I would share something personal today.  Fourteen years ago, on November 22, 1996, my hubby and I got married and began our journey together.  Along the way we have had four beautiful children we adore.

We believe in eternal families and since our family began the day we got married, we like to celebrate our special day with our kids.  Every year they get excited for our anniversary, it's like a birthday for them since we always do something special together.

A tradition for the past few years has been going out to a fun restaurant where they cook dinner in front of us.  Flying utensils and shrimp tails always get the kids giggling.  My favorite part is when flames shoot out of a volcano of onion rings.  I love to watch as they are motionless in their chairs, wide eyed with their mouths hung open.  Afterwards, we always end the evening with ice cream at Baskin Robbins or Cold Stone.

Unfortunately this year, we all have the sniffles.  We are doing something different while keeping with the spirit of doing something fun and special.  For lunch, we all ordered our favorite dishes and doing take out from the best Thai place in existence.  Following we are going to cuddle up and watch the movie, A Christmas Carol, that came out last year. (We haven't seen it yet)

The children are going to be surprised when we make homemade Oreo cookies. We saw this recipe awhile back and I wanted to wait for a special day to make them because will power only goes so far when you see these.  For dinner we are having various appetizers, per the kid's request.

This has become a fun tradition for our family that will carry on for years.  I'm interested in seeing how this tradition will play out as they grow older.  Until then, I look forward each year to share it with them.

(This isn't a good photo, I took it with my iPhone from the original.  We need to scan the original and make it digital. It's on my "to do" list.)  

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pumpkin & Squash...OH MY!

This summer we grew a boatload of squash.  Seriously.  The amount we grew could have easily filled a small boat like this:

You think I'm kidding? I should have taken a photo.

Nevertheless, we have A LOT of squash to eat.  Luckily, we love it so it will be a great to eat from our harvest over the winter.

I've often wondered if you could truly substitute squash for pumpkin.  I've always assumed you could, but never got around to confirming my thoughts.  Recently, my mom beat me to it.  She substituted in a recipe and brought some over for us to try. It was very similar, but she also messed with sugar substitutions, so that might be why I'm a little reluctant in saying it was an easy swap--there was more than one variable.

I saw a recipe on Twitter today that I want to try HERE.  I have all the ingredients minus the pumpkin and I'm craving something sweet.  If I have enough time, I think I'm going to do a little subbing of my own.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Polenta Cornbread

Nothing tastes as good as homemade, nothing.  I've always made cornbread from scratch.  A few years back, we discovered a new way of making it by accident.

One evening for dinner, I went to the fridge to grab the corn meal.  I didn't have enough for the recipe so I announced that we wouldn't be having it.  My oldest daughter asked if we could use polenta instead since it was dried corn. At first I thought that was a crazy idea.  They are two totally different ingredients, right? Nope.  Both are corn meal, poleta is just ground less, it's courser.  If you want to see what I mean, compare the two meals.

Due to the courser corn meal, the bread has a little chew to it.  I'll never go back to regular corn meal for our bread.

San Francisco Polenta Bread 

1 Cup Flour
1 Cup Polenta
3 Teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Cup Sugar
1 Cup Milk
1/4 Cup Oil
1 Egg, Beaten

Preheat oven to 425' F.  Place all ingredients in mixing bowl and blend.  Pour into 8in square pan and bake 20-25 minutes or until brown.  May also be baked in muffin tins.  Serves 6.

(From the side of the Golden Pheasant Brand Polenta bag)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Guest Post on the blog: Life As I See It.

Hello!! I'm a guest blogger on Life As I See It today.  Be sure to go check it out as I answer the question, "What inspired you to start writing?"

Friday, November 12, 2010

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Little Vlog About Me


I think I might vlog tonight. I have a few ideas and it might be fun -- or I might horribly embarrass myself.  Either way, someone will get a good laugh.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Holiday Game Plan

I know I have a case of undiagnosed OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder).  Those who know me personally will not argue with this statement either.  When I first recognized some of the signs, I have to admit, I was a bit concerned.  But then I made the decision to work with it, embrace it and to make good use of it.

Photo Credit 
How do I make OCD work for me? OCD comes in very handy when cleaning something.  I am particular when cleaning and not a nook or cranny is left unclean.  When I set out to do a project, I don't stop until it's done, completely done. It's especially fantastic when it comes time to set goals.  Last year, I worked out all 365 days of 2009 not necessarily because it felt good, but because I made a goal.

So in the spirit of setting goals and making progress, I've decided to workout every day during the holiday season.  Today is day four of November and it's my fourth workout.  I forgot how much working out at night helps me with my cravings, it's amazing.

The holidays are rapidly approaching and I know this goal will keep those sneaky holiday pounds from catching me off guard.  A simple workout done on a daily basis makes a huge difference.  When I started to write my book, I stopped working out so I would have more time to do so. (Not the best of ideas) The result of this decision was that I put on 10 pounds over the summer. TEN POUNDS!! Not because I ate more, but because I moved less.  Fifteen minutes on the elliptical a night works wonders and I highly recommend it.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Day After Halloween

Photo Credit
This happens every year to me.  No matter what my thinking is, it's never good enough.  I know that Halloween is coming and I prepare for the day by telling myself that I can enjoy the day.  If I only indulged on holidays, I wouldn't have a weight issue.

But then the next day comes.  I was resolved to not touch anything from last night.  My kids have been trained well.  They each dumped their candy into a big gallon zip lock and disappeared with them.  This is good, out of sight, out of mind. But what stayed behind? A nice full plate of my aunt's delicious cookies and brownies.  I looked at them first thing this morning.  How are you supposed to eat your normal, boring breakfast when you have a plate of goodies staring at you?  I should have just thrown them out, but that would be wasteful.

I haven't been looking forward to today since we the reality hit that our vacation was over.  I knew it would be hard, and getting up to face the day was.  My house is thrashed from all the unpacking and laundry mixed with Halloween decor. Thank heaven my husband was kind enough to straighten up a bunch last night. Halloween decor is so annoying to see on November 1st.  Also, NaNoWriMo officially started at midnight last night and all I really want to do is write, not teach or clean.

In efforts to keep my priorities straight, I turned a blind eye to the house, started school and grabbed an oatmeal cookie for breakfast. It was certainly a compromise wouldn't you say? But what's come back to bite me is my kids.  Somehow they have actually learned the good quality of sharing and they are doing just that.  How am I to turn down shared candy from my kids? I can't.

So this is my plan.  I will NOT allow myself to sneak their candy.  (This is where I have found myself in trouble in the past) If they offer, I will make the decision at that time and hopefully it will give me a moment to choose the right.

I lost about 5 pounds while gone this week and I would like to keep it that way.  I think I might also commit myself to a nightly workout starting tonight.  If I can tap into my perfectionist tendencies and do the elliptical everyday for the next few months, maybe I will not only get through the holidays with my current jeans but also in a daily habit again for 2010.  Hello holiday season!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Utah Vacation - Spending Time with Family & Friends - Meeting my Favorite Author

Hello! Remember me? Yeah, I haven't been here for awhile. But I have a super good excuse, I've been on vacation!  My family and I just returned home from our week stay in Utah visiting family and a dear friend in Las Vegas.  My husband and I agree, this was probably one of the most fun vacations we have ever taken.

We stayed a week with family in Springville, Utah.  The kids played and caught up, as did the adults.  We also were able to watch the season change before our very eyes.  We left California after a day where the AC was needed, and we arrived in Utah on a typical autumn evening.  By mid-week, it was snowing throughout the Salt Lake Valley.

It was such an exciting week for me that I found myself without an appetite.  Yes, you heard correctly, WITHOUT an appetite.  I know, usually while on vacation, it's so easy to gorge on good food.  We had good food, I just didn't feeling like eating it.  I even had some dark chocolate stashed away, just in case.  I had one piece the day I bought it and I didn't touch it the remainder of the trip. I know, I am shocked too.

The only thing I can think of is that I was truly in a relaxed mode. When I am relaxed, food takes on a whole new meaning for me and I have better control over it, actually, it would seem, that I have complete control over it.  When I am stressed, tired and can't think straight, it's easy to snack and gorge and loose all control.  It felt great being in control this week and I feel a new resolve to get into a better routine to keep it permanent.

An exciting event that happened while in Utah was an opportunity to catch up with our favorite author, Kaleb Nation, at his book signing.  You have seen me talk about his books before.  (If not, scroll down)  Bran Hambric: The Farfield Curse was published last year.  This year, Bran Hambric: The Specter Key, was released.  He's as sweet in person as he is online.  It was truly a pleasure to meet him.  We wish him the very best.
Kaleb and me.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Why I avoid fast food like the plague.

I've spent posts explaining the horrific nature of fast food and why it's not helpful in our weight loss efforts.  Yes, we live in a busy time and there are meals where we have to partake.  But it should be infrequently, very infrequently.  When I hear of families hopping from one FF joint to the other  because they are too busy to cook for dinner, I cringe.

My dear friend, Angela, brought this to my attention today.  I've heard of a Twinkie lasting for years unchanged, but I've never seen it.  There is something about a photograph of food that bacteria won't even touch that speaks volumes.  If it's not decomposing naturally by the umpteen gazillion bacteria that exist everywhere on the planet, what the heck is it doing to your body?  What does your body have to do to break it down? Poor, poor body.

Click HERE for the article.


I am ashamed to admit this, but today was the first day I hopped on the elliptical in a long time.  Positivity is something I want to bring to this blog because no one wants to read something depressing and unmotivating.  At the same time I want to keep it real.  The journey is long.  Even when you get down to your ideal weight, you aren't done! It's a lifelong journey and once you admit it, you can be easier on yourself.

So I grabbed my latest read, Fablehaven, and I did 20 minutes at level 10.  Boy, did it feel different, but it felt good.  Since I started my writing journey in May, I haven't been focusing on my weight loss efforts like I should.  By cutting out the exercise alone, I gained 8-10 pounds over the summer.  I try not to let the reality bother me, but to use it as a motivator.  (Right now my winter jeans are a motivator too)  NEVER STOP EXERCISING!! Had I continued my daily workouts, I likely would have maintained.  I know this, yet I allow myself to forget.  Why? I guess I'm human.

So today, I decided to officially make a commitment to do NaNoWriMo.  For those who don't know what this term means, November is National Novel Writing Month.  NaNoWriMo is a challenge to write a 50,000 word novel between November 1st through 30th.  I've never participated in it before, but with the helpful and loving coercion of my dear husband and one of my lovely critique partners, I'm ready to take on the challenge. 

The word count doesn't frighten me, when I wrote my first novel, I did 97K in five weeks.  I also know that once I get started, the words should flow.  The thing that initially frightened me was that I didn't have a single idea floating around in my head.  Not one.  Luckily, a little staring and some online time, an idea hit me.  I have a rough outline and I am feeling like I can do it.  I have a few weeks to make a more reliable outline I can work with and I think I'll be able to finish the challenge by the 30th without loosing too much sleep or gaining any weight.  (I am also going to make the commitment to regularly workout too)

Do you have an interest to start writing?  This is a great way to get started.  Check out the website: www.nanowrimo.org  There are a lot of resources!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Aspartame is EVIL

For years I've avoided Aspartame. It's in all sorts of diet foods and soda.  I've said it for years, avoid it.

If something is not natural, we shouldn't be putting it into our body. When I say "natural" I define it as something directly from nature, unadulterated. Anything we put into our bodies that isn't natural, our body has to work extra hard to process it, if it can process it at all.

When trying to be healthy to lose weight, the least distractions you give your body the better.  I'm an advocate to keeping your diet simple and eating real foods.

Some disturbing info about aspartame I got from this article. This information also matches what I read back  when I was working on my Holistic Nutrition degree in: "Excitotoxins:The Taste That Kills.

It's a nasty substance, please avoid it for your own health.
  • According to the Department of Health and Human Services, aspartame accounts for over 75 percent of the adverse reactions to food additives reported to the FDA.
  • The maker of aspartame, Monsanto, uses genetically engineered bacteria to produce the “sweetener.”
  • linked to blindness
  • migraine headaches
  • dizziness
  • seizures
  • nausea
  • numbness 
  • muscle spasms
  • weight gain
  • rashes
  • depression
  • fatigue
  • irritability
  • tachycardia
  • insomnia
  • vision problems
  • hearing loss
  • heart palpitations
  • breathing difficulties
  • anxiety attacks
  • slurred speech 
  • loss of taste
  • vertigo
  • memory loss
  • joint pain. 
The following chronic illnesses are triggered or worsened by ingesting aspartame: 
  • brain tumors
  • multiple sclerosis
  • epilepsy
  • chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Alzheimer’s
  • mental retardation
  • lymphoma
  • birth defects
  • fibromyalgia
  • diabetes.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

10,000 Pounds of Tomatoes (Part 2)

So what did I end up doing with my 10,000 pounds of tomatoes? 

A plateful of home grown tomatoes served with salt and pepper is absolutely delicious. There isn't enough salt, pepper, spice or sauce in the world that can make store-bought, anemic tomatoes edible. 

Fantastic on BLT's, cold cuts or just plan bread.  We'll even chop them up in a bowl, add some balsamic vinegar, blue cheese and call it lunch.  There are endless serving suggestions for these gems.

My husband made these for dinner the other night and I've been craving them ever since.  Just a tad bit more involved than slicing tomatoes, but the flavor is worth the little extra effort that is needed.

Slice and toast Dutch Crunch bread.  Dip bread onto a plate drizzled with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Cover with sliced tomato sprinkled with a dash of salt and pepper, mozzarella cheese and basil leaves.  So good--now I want to make some for lunch!

Earlier in the week, I cut up as many tomatoes that would fit in my pot.  When it boiled down a few inches, I added more until it reached the top.  I cooked the sauce for several hours until it got thicker and cooled it down so I could put it in the fridge.  

The following day, I fried up ground beef with onions and garlic.  Then I added enough sauce to make a batch of spaghetti sauce.  While I let the flavors merge into each other, I added the flavorings and seasons to make it taste yummy. 

I made spaghetti twice that week and the left-over plain sauce was frozen for a later time.

There is no way to photograph these, because they are ugly no matter what.  I dried the rest of the tomatos that I had in my dehydrator and this is what they look like.  They may be ugly, but they are tasty little snacks that can only be made with home grown tomatoes.  

Thursday, September 30, 2010

My "Awesome" Vlog

I haven't been the best vlogger, but as the journey progresses, I hope to share more.

Other author and writer blogs have been incredibly helpful to me and I want to give back and share all that I have learned with others.

Can you count correctly how many times I said, "Awesome?"

I did this vlog very late last night--in my PJ's. I also forgot to use the better light. But then again, I am not wearing make-up, so it was probably a good thing.

My BIG project

I've been working on this project since May. I told no one but my husband, a few very close friends and the world of Twitter. (Thanks to @supernovia for her support in convincing me that the Twitterverse cared.)

As time has progressed and I've grown more comfortable with the idea, I've slowly told friends and family.

I'm now at the point where I'm okay with telling the world.

(I did this video back in June, just after I finished writing my manuscript in 6 weeks)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

What I'm going to do with 10,000 pounds of tomatoes.

Well, not 10,000 pounds exactly, but close.  This is what I have starting at me right now, and I have another box just like these in the house we've been working on that I forgot to include in the following picture.

Did I mention that the vines outside are already ready for a picking too?  Please don't think I'm complaining, I'm not.  I am a little overwhelmed, but I'm not complaining.  Our CA summer was so mild the tomatoes didn't get the heat they needed to ripen, so we are having a late harvest.  (On the plus side, fresh tomatoes for Thanksgiving)

So today, I'm doing what other garden growers do this time of year who lack large freezers and time to can.

I'm getting creative.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Calorie free and tasty snack: Kim Chi Cucumber

We have such a variety of vegetables right now, to prevent burnout, we are creating different meals.  Just last night my hubby made a variation of  lasagna using several veggies from the garden.  I am proud of him, he's still eating zucchini after several months of cooking with it.

At our favorite Japanese restaurant, we enjoy a dish called Tako Kim Chi.  It's cucumber and octopus covered with kim chi sauce.  Such an easy recipe to recreate, but since I'm not proficient in octopus preparation, I will leave that treat for when we eat out.  

What we do instead is chop up cucumbers from the garden and drizzle kim chi sauce over it.  The sauce was hard to find because you typically can't find it at your local grocery store.  I had to go to an Asian market to find it.  
You know what shocked me the most at the market?  It wasn't the embryonic, purple eggs or the numerous bottles of fish parts pickled, fermented, salted, etc.  What shocked me the most was the isle of bagged MSG.  I try to avoid every trace of the stuff in my diet and yet there were bags and bags of it up and down the isle.

The only downer with the sauce is that it does have MSG in it, so I use it sparingly and not very often.  What I would like to do is make my own sauce with natural ingredients.  I'm on a quest for a recipe.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Specter Key Trailer [HD]

Check out this book trailer for an upcoming book. I've talked about Bran Hambric: The Farfield Curse before in other posts, this is the sequel. It's called Bran Hambric: The Specter Key. It certainly has a chance to make it to the NYT Best Seller's List.

At the end of the trailer, there is a link to sample chapters. Be sure to check them out.

Come 10/10/10, you will find me reading this on the elliptical....

Saturday, September 11, 2010

My thoughts on September 11, 2001

I was replying to the blog The Sierra Home Companion which asked, "Where were you on September 11th?" and the memory just flowed from my fingertips.  I thought I would share my thoughts here and repost my reply:

You're right.  I too will never forget where I was or what I was doing on that day. 

I was pregnant with my 2nd child.  We were in bed when my mother called to tell us the twin towers fell. (I'm ashamed that I didn't know what she was talking about-World Trade Center?) We got up, flipped on the tube and caught the 2nd plane crashing into the tower.  I will never forget that image.

Yes, the next couple of days, the world seemed to stand still.  I don't remember leaving the living room.  I remember wondering what the world held for the future of my children.  We didn't know what would happen next.  Part of me feared, the other part knew I needed to have faith.

I found a patriotism that I never felt before.   As tragic as it all was, Americans stood together like never before.  Suddenly it didn't matter who you were or where you came from.  Nothing mattered because as an American, we were one.  Flags erupted EVERYWHERE.  The mere sight of them found on cars, houses, buildings, you name it, would bring me to tears.  Maybe it was the pregnancy hormones, maybe it was the mere shock of the tragic events I watched unfold, maybe I was just patriotic for the first time in my life.    

As much as my heart ached for the families involved, it also swelled with American pride like never before.  September 11th heightened patriotism in America...and I miss it.  America has forgotten.  Maybe not in our hearts, but we have moved on and life has resumed as before.  

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Indian dinner from our garden.

SO dinner time came around tonight like it always does.  Wanting something different, I went to Google and started searching for recipes that had the ingredients I had.

I wanted to create a meal with:

  • Eggplant
  • Coconut milk
  • Garam masala (Spice blend)

This came up in the search: Chicken and Vegetable Curry  To my surprise, the recipe also included tomatoes and zucchini.  A definite WIN since I have so much out in the garden right now. 

What I enjoyed most this dish is that it's full of vegetables and still filling.  Sometimes when we make stir-frys there isn't enough fat or protein to keep me full and I'm left craving for something a few hours later.  This dish is very filling, so a little serving will keep you satisfied until breakfast.  The flavor is subtle and rich, so if you skipped the rice and left out the chicken, it wouldn't be missed.  This recipe is very versatile; we'll probably add more eggplant to it next time since we like it so much.

**Update: It was even BETTER for lunch.  :o)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Garden Milkshake

Who doesn't love a thick milkshake made with real, all natural ice cream and blended with fresh fruit?  It's certainly hard to pass up such cool deliciousness on a hot day.  But with intense refreshment also comes high calories.

A way we get around it is to make our own shakes.

In our garden this year, we are growing crenshaw melons.  I grew up with these beautiful fruits and the mere scent brings me back to a time when summers were long and living in a swimsuit didn't phase me.

We use Bryer's Vanilla ice cream.  It's the best!!  All natural without any added gunk means no chemicals or unpronounceable nouns.  Add it to the blender with frozen chunks of crenshaw melon and you have a frothy milkshake with less calories.  Since you are using more melon than ice cream, you significantly reduce the amount of fat and calories while adding a healthy dose of vitamin C.  The flavor is so sweet and intense, you don't miss those calories.

Wait.  You say you've never tasted a Crenshaw melon? Seek one out and dive in!  I promise you won't be disappointed.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Favorite Lunch

The garden is in full production and veggies are coming out of my ears!

Lately for lunch I have been eating this:

It's light, surprisingly filling and very easy to make.  Okay, bust out your pen and pad of paper because you will want to write this down so you don't miss anything. ;o)

1. Chop up various tomatoes (Make sure you add the juice left on the cutting board)
2. Drizzle with Balsamic vinegar.  (Enough so you can see it accumulating on the bottom.)
3. Season with salt & pepper
4. Crumble blue cheese, feta or whatever cheese you have lying around.

Voila! That's it. Enjoy!

Monday, August 30, 2010


I've had a stressful summer.  Too much to do and not enough time to do it in.  Sound familiar? We all have stress in our lives and for me, there are times I can handle it and other times when I can't.

When I can't handle it, I take my stress out with eating.  For me, I ate more this summer than I usually do.  Come to think of it, I didn't eat that much worse than I have all year as I maintained my weight loss.  But I am currently a good 10 pounds heavier now.  Why?  I haven't been exercising!  When I say exercising is key, I mean it!!  I can have a little allowance with my eating if I am working out, if I'm not, my weight just creeps back on, every time.

Right now I sit here and I can feel my waist line cut into my tummy.  I HATE this feeling and yet it's back.  The first thing I need to do is make time for the elliptical.  Even if I don't change my snacking or stress relieving methods, the workouts will help with maintaining so I can stay in my snug pants (for now) instead of having to buy the next size.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Where I've been...

So sorry for my absence.  I've been out of town and had no internet access!  I wasn't too concerned knowing I wouldn't have internet access because I still had my iPhone to keep me connected.  What a surprise it was when I walked into our rented beach house and had NO SIGNAL.

I honestly panicked for a moment.  Some of my first thoughts were, "What if I need someone at home? What if I'm needed?" (I'm responsible for our youth program at church) I also enjoy checking in on Twitter friends throughout the day and I wondered what it would be like if a week passed without checking. Would I be forgotten, would I forget who I enjoyed talking to?  Yea, pretty petty thoughts.  But my biggest legit concern was, "What if some horrific world calamity took place while we are here and I have no way of calling for help?" That's a legit concern, right?  I have four children, three of which aren't good swimmers, and we are by the ocean, what if something happened?  (Have I ever mentioned that I am a worry wort?)  I enjoy the comfort of knowing that if anything happened, I could call 911 and have help within minutes.

Luckily, after we got unpacked and I went out on the beach in front of our temporary home, away from the big hill behind the house, I found 5 bars and 3G.  I was comforted to know that if I needed anything, anything at all, I just needed to run out to the ocean and dial away. :oD

We had a wonderful time with family and the sun, now it's time to get back into the swing of things.  A brand new year of home schooling starts tomorrow and life is about to merge into the fast lane.

Here is a view from our house:

A photo of my cousin and I. 
(Please disregard my lack of make-up, 
I was on vacation from EVERYTHING!!)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Homemade Coriander

We discovered coriander a couple of years ago and we honestly use it as much as salt.  It adds a citrus flair to your foods and we add it to everything.  Fabulous on beef, chicken, vegetables, salsa, sauces...you get the idea.

Recently, we had cilantro growing in our garden.  We enjoy growing the herb for our Mexican dishes, but we have a hard time going it.  It quickly goes to seed.

Outside recently, one of us thought that coriander was from cilantro seed.  If you are familiar with these two flavors, you know they are entirely different.  I giggled to myself when I tasted one of the cilantro seeds and proved that they really are coriander.

It was fun to separate these little pods from the dried cilantro plant.  A little touch from the food processor, and we will have the freshest coriander we've ever had.

Monday, August 16, 2010


I had a fun time doing an interview this week.  Jess over at Jest Kept Secret is starting a new segment on her blog called:

I was the first one to participate!  She is such a sweetheart to work with too.  Please go check it out! :o)


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Garden Galettes

Although I have never heard of a Galette, they don't look unfamiliar.  Tonight I made this dish for the first time and it was a wonderful way to use garden vegetables!  The combination possibilities are endless.  I made this one tonight with yellow & red cherry tomatoes and basil from our garden:

Check out  PrudentBaby for recipe directions and some beautiful pictures.  

Friday, August 13, 2010

To Free A Mockingbird

My son rescued a Mockingbird from a dog's mouth, after it fell from a tree. I hand fed and raised it. To see the journey from the beginning, check out my YouTube channel.

My hubby is creative with zucchini.

This garden season, we were overzealous in our planning and planted more zucchini plants than last year. (Just in case) Yea, all of the plants grew happy and healthy and now we have a serious over abundance of zucchini.

We committed in the beginning that we would strive to be creative with the green vegetable and I'm proud to say we have.  We've had them in foods for breakfast, lunch, dinner and even dessert.  They've been added to the tried and true family favorites, new dishes have even been created.  We have done well.

The lastest creation was done by my hubby.  He decided to add a little bulk to our traditional salsa and the result was quite tasty.  The flavor is the same, and if you close your eyes, you can't even tell that there is zuchhini in there.  The children are pleased and we have been eating it with chips.

It's been a fun summer keeping up with our zucchini plants.  Our familiar vole even showed up, but this time, we just turned our backs and let him do what he wanted.  (We are minus 11/2 plants now, and that's okay) 

What's been keeping me busy that last couple of days.

Darn, I wanted this post to be today, when today was Thursday.  I'm up late so it's technically Friday now.

Anyway, for the last couple of days I have been participating in an online writer's conference called,

Wanting to get my children more involved with reading and writing, I've researched how to be a better writer. (Everyone knows I already love to read)  During this process, I have found that writing is actually kind of fun!! (Wish I would have realized that reading and writing are awesome when I was in school and had the time.)  I keep telling myself better late than never, right?

Anyway, everything that took place is posted on the main site.  If you are interested in writing, head on over and check it out.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


I have been trying to live on 6 hours of sleep so I have the time needed to do everything I need to do in a day.  It's not working. I find myself incredibly tired around 3pm and there isn't anything I can do about it but wait for the kids to be asleep.

Another thing I notice is that being tired makes it hard to make a good choice.  I find myself not really caring about what I want to eat. It's almost like I resort to a primal instinct. I'm hungry, so I eat. Doesn't matter what it is, or what it will do to me as long as I get full.  If it's there, I'll just grab it, because I'm tired and don't want to think.  Luckily, this week of trying to live on less sleep, the cupboards are a bit bare of snacks, so it's easy to not...snack.  If there were some goodies in here, I can guarantee that they'd be eaten.

Right now I feel as though I am rambling, not making sense.  I probably am, because I'm tired.  This tired-all-day feeling isn't really worth the amount of work I get done by staying up.  I am going to try to convert to early bird-ism next week, and fight my natural night owl. (Late at night, I can often be found doing what this man is doing in the picture)

Photo Credit 

Monday, August 9, 2010

Brownies and Excuses

So yesterday we had homemade brownies. (And by homemade, I mean homemade.  No boxed ingredients where you add eggs, oil and whatever, just 100% of OMGoodness) I made the "One last batch" kind of brownies. You know that batch, the one you are going to get your fill of so you can swear them off for awhile while you get your weight loss efforts in check.  Yes, that batch.

This is the thinking, the excuse I have used in the past that helped me gain 40 pounds.  Why do I still use it then?  Because,


A way for my mind to be okay with the idea of freely eating brownies without the guilt.

The "plan" was to have a great day today.  Eat enough brownies on Sunday until I was sick of them so when I wake up on Monday, I'd have a new resolve.  Today is Monday, the fresh start to a new week where I hop back on the wagon and get my eating and exercise in order, right? Wrong. Guess what I had for breakfast?

The cycle continued.  I know I am not the only lady out there that does this. Excuse. Excuse. Excuse. For one reason or another we use excuses to tell ourselves it's okay to indulge today so that we can do better tomorrow.

So was today an epic failure?  A day to cancel out with horrible eating so that tomorrow will be better?  NOPE!  I have learned something on this journey.  I told myself this morning, right after eating the first brownie of the day, no matter how today went, I would work out.

I have OCD, I'm a perfectionist and these two together will probably be the end of me one day. Maybe. But I am learning to use them to work with me.  Long ago they worked against me in the perfect vs. not perfect day thinking, like I explained above.  (If today isn't perfect, gorge and try again tomorrow)  Now, I use it to hold myself to a promise.

Tonight, after a day that started with brownies that went through lunch, I ended the day with a normal dinner and a workout.  The workout felt great!!  I went onto the elliptical with thoughts of what to snack on after I was finished and end up stepping off of it sweaty with a lost of appetite. Soon, I'm going to make myself some herbal tea with a shot of milk and call it a day.

With my old, OCD-perfectionist thinking, today would have been an epic failure the moment the brownie hit my lips.  Instead, I'm ending the day feeling in control and ready to take on tomorrow, a little bit stronger in my weight loss goals.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Meeting Maggie Stiefvater

Along my weight loss journey, I have found that I love to read books on the elliptical trainer while I work out. It passes the time and I get uninterrupted reading time in. It's a win all around! One book that I read earlier this spring was Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater.  I greatly enjoyed it.  In a nutshell, it's like Twilight except substitute wolves for the vampires.  Young love, a paranormal life pulling them apart, you know the type of story...I love an easy read that sweeps me away. (I must warn you, the night I started Shiver, I wasn't ready to put it down after my workout.  I kept reading until I was done-because it was that good.)

The second book in the series, Linger, just came out last month.  Excited for the book to come out, I discovered that her book tour took her to Petaluma, which is a good two hour drive.  Wanting to go, but not wanting to make the drive by myself, I put out the feelers on Facebook to see if anyone wanted to go with me.  My close friend, Christine, said she wanted to go.  Living at the middle mark in Vacaville, it was planned that I would pick her up along the way!

Leaving later than I wanted and then finding out the parking garage that was supposed to be "Just behind the bookstore," wasn't, we were still parking the car at the time the event started. No, the parking garage wasn't just behind the bookstore like the young fellow I spoke with on the phone said, it was 3-4 blocks away on the other side of a stream/river/water thing.  By the time we hiked, went over a dock and waited to cross a busy street, we were 15 minutes late.  Luckily, after we got to the store, recovered from our brisk walk and purchased our books, Maggie had just started to talk.

Did I mention that it was absolutely FREEZING?? Yea, we left home pushing 100 degrees and when we got to Petaluma, we could nearly see our breath before our eyes. No, it wasn't that cold, but had we properly dressed, it would have been a lovely walk.  Since I had hot summer day attire on, my teeth were chattering so hard, I thought I would chip a tooth.

Despite the craziness it took to get to the signing, it was absolutely wonderful to see Maggie Stiefvater.  Maggie was just as wonderful in person as she is online. It's neat to meet other moms who are using their talents to entertain others while raising a family. I could have listened to her funny life stories for hours.

The best story she shared, was about her most recent plane ride.  On the way to the Bay Area, she found out that "Linger" didn't just debut on the New York Times Best Seller List, but that it debuted as #1. (Read the full plane story HERE and her post about her first Linger tour HERE. )

Starving from the drive and the signing, Christine and I ate at a Mexican food place down the street from the book store.  It was okay.  (I'm a super picky when it comes to Mexican food, or any food for that matter)  We missed out on the fried ice cream since we were there near closing time. Next time I will consume my first real fried ice cream. The last time I ordered it, probably when I was a kid, it was a scoop of vanilla ice cream rolled in corn flakes.  I'm serious.

As I dropped Christine off, I realized that we didn't take any pictures together! In my lame attempt to capture the evening together, I got this.  Not bad, but not the best.

I'll keep this photo small to spare you.  We were both sleepy, although I am looking a little cranked. I drank a huge glass of soda at dinner to keep me awake.  I typically avoid caffeine, so when I drink it, it's super effective.  You can see this in my eyes. (Another reason to keep the photo small, my eyes are frightfully large and the way we are positioned, my head looks freakishly huge compared to Christine)

We had a great time! It was a wonderful, fun and at times, silly way to attend my first book signing.  I hope to attend many more.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Hanging off the wagon by a shoelace.

So I haven't been the best example lately.  The elliptical trainer is dusty and I couldn't tell you the last time I was on it.  I also haven't been eating as well as I should, but I haven't been completely out of control either. This is probably because there isn't anything in the house to snack on, or I would be. (I didn't buy snacks this week on purpose) 

Every once and awhile we find ourselves in a place where we wonder how we got there.  I haven't been trying to avoid being healthy, but I certainly haven't been embracing it either.

Today I noticed that my knees were a bit achy.  The ache is a reminder that I am not 19 any more and when I don't workout, my body will remind me of this.  For me, when I don't work out, I slowly gain weight.  Mostly, because I like to eat.  Working out daily and eating the way I do balance each other out.  Take away the exercise and eat a little sloppy in regards to good choices, and the weight returns, quickly.   

Lately, I have been using the exercise excuse that is as old as the existence of stationary bikes.  

"I am just too busy to workout tonight."

Honestly, I'm too busy for my health?  Really? Shouldn't that be a priority?  If we don't make it a priority, our body will certainly make our health a priority when it's taken away.  Health is never more precious than when you aren't in possession of it.  My knees are reminding me daily of this important fact.  I must put working out back into my schedule.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


I had a post up for a few hours and then realized that although I planned on getting it up days sooner, I probably should wait until my guest post on another site went up first.  Oops!  I don't want to do a blogger no-no.  So I'll talk about something else for now.

I don't have a picture for this, I could go take one of the left overs that sits in the fridge, but the photo wouldn't be appealing.  I'll spare you.

Ben was in the kitchen yesterday being creative and he stumbled on something fantastic!  Our tomato production is yet to get into full swing and we don't have enough to make what we normally do with our tomatoes ie.spaghetti sauce, salsa, bowls of chopped tomatoes with mozzarella and basil.

In efforts to use up the many zucchini we have, Ben had the girls chop up zucchinis in little chunks.  He went ahead and made salsa like we usually do and added the zucchini to make up for the lack of tomatoes.  It looked a lot like gazpacho.  I had some yesterday in a bowl and it was okay.  But today, when I went at it like salsa with a chip, it was AMAZING!  Next time we make it, I'll take a photo when it's fresh and pretty!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A note

I wanted to share an absolutely wonderful new recipe we happened to create, but I realized it is so simple, that a picture would have to be included.  I plan on making it tomorrow and will report then.  :o)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Campechana (Mexican Shrimp Cocktail)

After eating a week full of vegetables, which are so very delicious and good for you, Ben and I were craving something Mexican. We had a favorite local Mexican restaurant that we use to frequent specifically to eat this because they made it so well. When they closed shop, we found that no one else makes it as good so I was thrilled when I saw this on allrecipes.com It's just as good and you can save money by making it at home.

Wanting to save money by eat in, we decided to make this last night.  The shrimp all together cost about $10 and by the time you add the rest of the items, you'll be pushing $20 (unless you already have some of the items already in the fridge).  So for $20, Ben and I had large bowls of this, which is beyond filling, and we will also have the remainder today for lunch.  That's $5 a serving.

It's also low in fat and high in flavor.  Believe me when I say you will crave this once you have had it.

**Various pictures (including this one), nutrition information and the recipe can be found HERE.


  • 2 pounds cooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 tablespoon crushed garlic
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups tomato and clam juice cocktail
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce, or to taste
  • 1/4 cup prepared horseradish
  • salt to taste
  • 1 ripe avocado - peeled, pitted and chopped


  1. Place the shrimp in a large bowl. Stir garlic, red onion, and cilantro. Mix in tomato and clam juice cocktail, ketchup, lime juice, hot pepper sauce, and horseradish. Season with salt. Gently stir in avocado. Cover, and refrigerate 2 to 3 hours. Serve in one large bowl or ladle into individual bowls.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


For those who grow gardens, it's that time of year when you start seeing a lot of zucchini.  We have learned the biggest thing you can do to prevent zucchini overload is to keep ahead of it.  The best way to do that? 


Check your plants daily and pick them while they are small, about an 1 1/2" - 2"  in diameter.  I have never seen anything grow as fast as a zucchini and if you miss a day, WATCH OUT!  I have gone to bed with small zucchinis on the vine only to find big boats by lunch the next day.  Don't believe me?  Grow some zucchini and you'll see for yourself.

Another thing we are doing this year is to get creative with it.  Often we get sick of them, quickly.  This is easy to do if you only make one thing with them.  So if you only have that favorite zucchini dish you make over and over again in vain efforts to get through your surplus, you need to get out there and research new recipes. A new recipe I'm going to try is: Zookies  (Highly recommended by a fellow zucchini growing gal: Michal)

A wonderful thing about this vegetable is that it's versatile.  Just the other day I had them for breakfast, lunch, dinner & dessert and I'm not even sick of them.  Why?  Because we got creative in our cooking this year. They can be a main part of the meal as in Zucchini Scramble (recipe below) or as a filler in pretty much everything else.  The other night, my hubby chopped them up super fine and snuck them into our Sloppy Joes.  He felt so sneaky and he reveled in the deception.  The kids didn't notice until almost the end of the meal when they saw yellow chunks.  Had he stuck with the green zucchinis, no one may have guessed.

The last and marvelous thing about zucchini is that they are filling.  You can stretch any recipe with zucchini.  Adding greens and fiber will help you feel full after eating.  This means, less calories while feeling full.  Can't argue with that when you are trying to shed some pounds.

Zucchini Scramble
(This is a recipe I have been enjoying a lot lately)

3,4,5 Zucchinis, shredded (use as many as you want to eat at the meal)
3-4 Eggs
 Montery Jack cheese, shredded
Olive Oil
Season to taste (I use salt,pepper, coriander and pepper flakes)

I don't have any measurements because this is the type of recipe where you literally just throw it into the pan and "eye ball" it.
  • Warm up olive oil in fry pan.  
  • Shred the zucchini using a cheese grater and cook until done.  (As the water cooks out of the zucchini, the amount will shrink.  Use more zucchini then you think you'll eat.)
  • Add the eggs and scramble together until eggs are done. 
  • Season the scramble
  • Top with grated cheese and turn off heat.  When cheese is melted it's time to dish up.
In case you are still wondering about my zucchini filled day, here's the daily menu:

Breakfast: Zucchini Cake (Yes, it's technically a cake, but I made it with whole grain flour and organic eggs.  The only questionable ingredient is sugar.  I know, it's a far stretch, but it's a dense cake)

Lunch: Zucchini Scramble

Dinner: The deceptive Sloppy Joe's 

Dessert: Zucchini Cake with Butter-Lime frosting

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Garden Dinner

This is what was picked from the garden today.  All we needed for tonight's dinner was some chicken. 

Chicken: Ben cooked it in a fry pan with a tad of oil until brown.  Then topped it with fresh pesto he made from the basil we grow.

Beets: I boiled them until they were tender.  Since there is always a lot of oil in pesto when cooked, we decided to use what came off the pesto and chicken and I used it to make an Italian vinaigrette to marinate them in.

Beet greens:  I cooked them with olive oil and garlic.  When it was wilted and finished cooking, I seasoned it with salt, pepper and some coriander. (Our favorite spice-we use it on everything)

Eggplant: I sliced, sauteed in olive oil and seasoned with salt & pepper. (My son and I love it best prepared this way)

Tomatoes: They are so yummy from the garden, we just sliced and ate them with a dash of salt & pepper.

Watermelon: Weren't sure if they were ripe yet or not.  By looking at the anemic piece on the plate, you can tell they need a few more days out in the sun on the vine.