Thursday, November 8, 2012

Weekly Menu for: November 5-11, 2012

Cranberry Crumble Bars
Raisin Bread Apple Crisp
Amish Baked Oatmeal
Blue Corn Tortilla Chips with refried bean and queso dip, baby carrots, grapes
Tortellini with Alfredo Sauce, raisins, apples with peanut butter, brocolli
Cheesy quesadillas with simple salad, grapes, apple slices
Italian Chicken bites, spinach, banana, applesauce
SnackBlockbuster Cookies
Pumpkin Fluff with Graham Crackers
Baby Carrots OR broccoli with ranch or honey mustard dip
Pizza stuffed Chicken breast, biscuits, and peas
Mashed Potato cakes topped with sour cream, simple salad
Beef and bean tortillas, with choice of toppings (salsa, sour cream, guacamole, cheese, lettuce, chopped tomato)
Chicken, Bacon, Spinach, Tomato, and cheese calzone (using my multi-purpose dough recipe found here)

Breakfast Recipes for: November 5-11, 2012

Amish Baked Oatmeal recipe can be found here.
Raisin Bread Apple Crisp
Found at: Sunmaid Raisins
Serves- 6
6 TBS. melted butter
½ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup chopped nuts
4 slices raisin bread (homemade, or store bought)
3 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and cut into ¼ inch wedges
Heat oven to 325 degrees.
  1. Combine butter, brown sugar and nuts.
  2. Tear raisin bread into ¼ inch to ½ inch pieces.
  3. Mix torn bread with butter mixture.
  4. Put cut apples in a 9-inch baking dish, pat bread mixture firmly over apples.
  5. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until top is golden brown and apples are soft. Serve warm.

Cranberry Crumble Bars
Found at: Martha Stewart Living, Nov. 2012 Issue
Makes- 24 bars
1 can (14 oz.) whole-berry cranberry sauce
½ cup dried cranberries (7 ½ oz.)
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ tsp. cornstarch
¾ cup cold water
6 TBS. cranberry juice
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pan
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. coarse salt
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
1 ¼ cups packed light-brown sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
¼ cup chopped walnuts, toasted (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
(If making your own filling): Pulse cranberries and sugar in a food processor until a coarse paste forms. Transfer to saucepan. Whisk cornstarch into cold water, then add to cranberry mixture, whisking to combine. Stir in juice. Simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture thickens and sugar dissolves, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat; let cool completely.
  1. Butter or spray with cooking spray a 9x13 inch baking pan. Line baking pan with parchment paper, letting 2 long sides overhang edges. Butter parchment, then flour parchment and sides of pan.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Add brown sugar and butter, and stir until well combined. Mix in egg and vanilla, then oats and walnuts.
  3. Press half of dough mix into pan. Spread cranberry filling evenly over the dough, then crumble remaining dough on top of filling.
  4. Bake about 40 minutes, or until golden and cooked through.
  5. Let cool completely in pan on wire rack, about 1 hour, then lift out using parchment.
  6. Cut into 2 inch squares.
Bars can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.


Lunch Recipes for: November 5-11, 2012

Refried Bean/ Queso Dip

1 large can of refried beans (or about 2 cups, if you make your own)

1 jar of your favorite brand of salsa con queso

1 cup sour cream

Put all contents into a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until combined and heated through, about 10 minutes. Serve warm with your choice of tortilla chips, raw veggies, etc.

Italian Chicken Bites


4 Chicken Breast, cut into large chunks

1 ½ cup flour

2 TBS. dried parsley

2 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. paprika

½ tsp. salt

½ tsp. black pepper

1 tsp. Italian seasoning

2 eggs

2 TBS. oil

Marinara or Your choice of dipping sauce (ranch, honey mustard, etc.)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease cookie sheet with oil.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Mix well.
  3. In another bowl, combine chicken chunks and eggs. Make sure each piece is coated with egg.
  4. Put chicken pieces in flour mix, turning over to coat each side.
  5. Place on cookie sheet. Cook for about 10 minutes, flip, and cook for another 5- 10 minutes.
  6. Serve with your choice of dipping sauce. Enjoy!

Dinner Recipes for- November 5-11, 2012

Pizza-Stuffed Chicken Breast

From: Schwan's

Serves 6

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Salt and Pepper

¼ cup Italian Style bread crumbs (find a quick recipe for it here)


1 cup shredded pizza cheese blend (or ½ cup shredded mozzarella and ½ cup shredded cheddar, parmesan , or Romano cheese)

1 cup pepperoni slices

1 tsp. Italian seasoning


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  1. Place chicken in a plastic bag or between two layers of plastic wrap. Pound to flatten to 3/8 inches thick OR butterfly chicken breast to make thinner. Put aside.
  2. Mix Cheese(s) and Italian seasoning in a small bowl.
  3. Divide filling ingredients in center of each chicken. Put cheese first, pepperoni on top.
  4. Wrap chicken around filling. Secure with toothpicks, put stuffed chicken in a baking dish.
  5. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Lightly spray with cooking spray or brush with oil. Sprinkle chicken with breadcrumbs.
  6. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until cooked through.


Mashed Potato Cakes

From: Schwan's

Serves 4

2 cups cooked mashed potatoes(homemade, or from a box)

2 TBS. vegetable oil

2 TBS. butter

½ cup flour

1 tsp. granulated garlic

Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Divide mashed potatoes into 8 portions and form patties.
  2. Heat oil and butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. Mix together remaining dry ingredients. Place on a large plate.
  4. Coat patties in dry mixture. Place into skillet and cook 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.
  5. Turn over and cook 5-7 minutes or until golden brown.
  6. Optional- serve with a dollop of sour cream, bacon crumbles, and chives.


Meat and Veggies Calzone

Okay, I'll admit. I have no idea of what normally comes inside a calzone. I've never had a "real calzone" before. I made this last week on the grill while our power was out. My original intention was pizza, but I was afraid I was going to burn the bottom(since I've never grilled a pizza before), so I quickly folded it and this is the end result. If it's not a "real calzone", then I'm just going to call it a huge hot pocket, so I don't offend any potential calzone lovers. J

You can also mix and match whatever sounds good or you have available.

Serves 8

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks

1-2 TBS. oil

Monterey Chicken Seasoning, to taste

10 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled

2 cups shredded cheese( I used mozzarella and cheddar)

1 cup spinach leaves, sliced

1 tomato, chopped

1 recipe Multi-purpose dough (found here)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

  1. Mix chicken cubes, oil, and Monterey chicken seasoning. Cook in a skillet over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes, or until cooked through. Put aside to cool.
  2. Once chicken in cooled, mix with bacon, cheese, spinach, and tomatoes.
  3. After multi-purpose dough is done rising, divide into two dough balls. Roll out each dough ball to form a large circle(almost like you're making a pizza).
  4. On one half of dough, put chicken mixture. Fold and seal closed to form a half circle. Repeat the same process with second piece of dough.
  5. Put on a baking sheet, bake 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven, allow to cool a few minutes.
  6. Slice each calzone to 4 pieces, enjoy!


Taco Seasoning Mix

My family loves tacos, but since starting the process of better eating, I've noticed with pre-packaged taco seasoning, I get terrible heartburn. No matter how little or what brand I used, the result was always the same. We started to cut down on our taco eating, but then I bought the Fix-It and Forget It Diabetic Cookbook for my dad when he found out he had diabetes. When he passed due to other health issues a year later, my stepmother gave me back the cookbook, saying she had no need for it. I found this recipe, tried it, and we haven't bought pre-packaged taco seasoning since. It doesn't leave a funky aftertaste in your mouth, and I have yet to get heartburn from it.

Found at- Fix-It and Forget it Diabetic Cookbook

Makes- 3 servings(equivalent to using 3 packets of the store-bought stuff)

6 tsp. chili powder

5 tsp. paprika

4 ½ tsp. cumin

3 tsp. onion powder

1 tsp. garlic powder

2/3 TBS. dry cornstarch


  1. Combine all ingredients in bowl. Put in a small Tupperware or ziplock container. Make sure to label it!
  2. One-third of mix(or, about 7 tsp.) is equivalent to 1 package of purchased taco seasoning mix. To use for cooking, mix 7 tsp. of taco seasoning mix with ¾ cup water and cook until thickened(about 5-10 minutes), and mix with meat of choice.





Snack Recipes for: November 5-11, 2012

Blockbuster Cookies

Found- Family Fun, November 2012 issue

2 ½ cups flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. kosher salt

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature

1 cup light brown sugar

½ cup sugar

2 eggs

1 TBS. vanilla

1 ½ cups Raisinets

3 cups buttered and salted popcorn (store-bought or homemade)


Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, use a stand or hand mixer on medium speed to cream the butter until it's light and fluffy. Add both sugars and blend until they're well combined.
  4. Crack one egg into a small bowl. Separate the white from the yolk of the second egg, and add the yolk to the first egg. Discard the white or reserve for another recipe. Add the eggs and vanilla to the butter mixture and blend on medium-high until they're fully incorporated.
  5. Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture in three batches, blending well after each addition.
  6. With a spatula, stir in the Raisinets, and then gently fold in the popcorn.
  7. Form dough into medium-sized mounds (about 2 TBS. each), and put nine of them staggered, on each baking sheet. Bake the cookies until golden brown, about 14 minutes, turning the pans halfway through. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool. Repeat the step to bake the remaining dough. Serve.


Pumpkin Fluff

1 recipe Vanilla Whipped Cream (see recipe, below)

1(5 oz. pkg. vanilla pudding mix (or 1-8 oz. container of pre-made pudding, store bought or homemade)

1(15 oz.) can pureed pumpkin

1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

In a large bowl, mix pudding mix, pumpkin, and pumpkin pie spice. Fold in vanilla whipped cream. Chill in fridge until ready to serve. Goes great with graham crackers or ginger snaps.

Vanilla whipped Cream

Found- From McCormick

1 cup heavy cream

¼ cup confectioners' sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Beat all ingredients together in medium bowl with electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form.



Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Healthy Eating Update

Since the beginning of summer, I have been trying hard to eat foods that are considered "real". Of course, in the beginning, it was hard. I'm not where I hope to be with it, but I feel as though I'm better than I was when I started. I'm still learning as I go, I'm still trying, I still fail on occasion. I'm not perfect. The weight has NOT just magically "fell" off. I know I kept saying, "I'm not doing it for the weight!" but in the beginning, I really was doing it for the weight.
But, weight aside, I feel a difference. I can now explain better my reason of sluggishness. I know I feel better eating better. I didn't think I could ever say that. I always thought it was just cliché. But, it's true.
I read somewhere that our body reacts differently to overly processed food. I thought it was just health nuts trying to win converts saying that, but after eating not so great these past two weeks, I now know what they mean. I'll try not to get too gross in how I realized this, but one innocent example is my taste buds. I never realized how overly processed foods are…overly seasoned. It seems they are often too salty or too sweet. If I try and eat more than a small amount (because, hello, I'm fat! And I don't know diddly squat about portion control), I get a weird bump or two on my tongue. Anyone know what that's called? It always seems to be on the sides of my tongue. Anyways, I just call it salt or sugar overload. I never took notice to how much seasoning has to go into overly processed foods in order to make them taste reasonable, until I stopped eating them.
Another thing I noticed was how much more expensive it is to eat a largely overly processed food diet. A large amount of people are under the belief that it's healthy eating that's expensive, but that really has not been the case for us. By omitting most overly processed frozen, dried, and canned products I have seen a huge difference in our food budget. Well, that and planning our menu I believe have really helped us get from "oh, snap, how are we going to eat for the next week or two?!" to, "oh, snap, I have some extra money in the food budget left for the next week or two!" This leads me to my next point…
We have been eating less. The first month or two, we sort of pigged out because I felt like, "I FINALLY found something I can stick with! Something that says it's okay to eat butter, and bacon, and strawberries, and chocolate (though not in that order)! I'm eating really real foods, so I can live it up! YAHHOOOO!!!" But, now that we are past the fun and thrill of it, we are slowly getting to the point of it becoming a part of our everyday lives. Eating better foods eventually makes you want to slow down and savor it. There are some moments where we pig out, but they decreasing. I still probably eat faster than I should, but I don't eat seconds or thirds much anymore. I don't feel the need to "pile it on" my plate. I'm still trying to learn that free food doesn't mean I can and should be pigging out.
Which brings me to my dilemma…With the holidays coming up, we are often invited to functions involving food. I am always thankful for these events, because it means food that I don't have to cook and often times food to bring home that I don't have to cookJ. Not that I mind cooking, because I really enjoy it. But let's be honest- I'm not exactly sharing the responsibility of cooking with anyone here. As much as I enjoy it, it gets tiring after awhile. I won't pass down the chance for someone else to do the cooking. However, I'm already starting to feel a bit uncomfortable about functions because I have to ask questions of how/what it's made of. Do I suck it up, enjoy the food and keep the moments rare? Or, do I decline the offers? Bring my own food? Is there anyone who reads my blog and has had the same problem? What do you do when having to eat outside the home?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Weekly Menu for: October 20-26, 2012

I just wanted to quickly say a big "THANK YOU!!!" to all those who have read my blog over the past week. My numbers have jumped quite a bit! Continue checking back, and don't forget to please offer any suggestions, comments, or questions you have for our family blog on here, through my personal e-mail, or through my Facebook page!

There is a large use of potatoes this week on the menu. I bought some earlier in the week, and then a friend from church gave us another bag because she got some as a part of a BOGO free offer, and wouldn't need that many potatoes for just her and her husband. As most of you know, I will rarely turn down free vegetables! *wink*

You'll understand why the breakfast options are only two this week once you see the recipe for Breakfast cookies!

Here's our family's menu for this week! As always, I'll post the recipes within the next few days J


Homemade Granola with milk

Breakfast Cookies


Ham, cheese, and chives scrambled eggs, apple, blueberries, and clementine

Peanut Butter and Raspberry Preserve Sandwiches, cantaloupe, blueberries

Oatmeal chocolate-chip pancakes, apple, yogurt

Ham, cheese, and spinach "hot pockets" (using "Multi-Purpose Dough" recipe found here )


Pirate Booty


Veggie Chips



Spinach Lasagna

Parmesan crusted tilapia (bought already seasoned at farmer's market), Cheesy Mashed Potatoes, steamed mixed vegetables

Pizza topped with chicken, pepperoni, spinach, and tomatoes, breadsticks (using "Multi-Purpose Dough" recipe found here

Potato Soup, side salad, homemade breadsticks


Breakfast Recipes for: October 20-26, 2012


As some of you may know, I've been on the quest for a great granola recipe. My first "real foods" attempt was…spicy and weird. This is my second attempt at doing it. I like the fact that it has brown sugar (you can substitute if you want, but brown sugar is one thing I have no intentions of eliminating from my life anytime soon.), and aside from the brown sugar it is mostly considered "real food". We used this as a substitute for cereal this week, and it was very filling. We also used it as a part of peanut butter granola balls for snack time and the kids love it.

I have no idea where I got this recipe from, but it's a huge step up in flavor from my first attempt.

2 cups rolled (aka old fashioned) oats

¾ c. packed brown sugar

½ c. wheat germ (optional)

¾ tsp. cinnamon

1 c. whole wheat flour

¾ c. raisins

¾ tsp. salt

½ c. honey

1 egg, beaten

½ c. oil (or applesauce)

2 tsp. vanilla

-any dried fruit/nuts/coconut/chocolate chips, etc. desired


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish.
  2. Mix first seven ingredients. Make a well in the center.
  3. In the well, add remaining wet ingredients (except the dried fruit, etc.).Mix well.
  4. Fold in dried fruit, etc. that you are using.
  5. Pat the mixture evenly into the baking dish.
  6. Bake 30-35 minutes, or until edges turn golden. Cool for 5 minutes, then cut into bars (or chunks if making for cereal, to top yogurt/ice cream, etc.) and remove from dish.


Breakfast cookies

From: Martha Stewart Magazine

Makes- 8 mega cookies, 16 super large cookies, or 32-48 normal-large sized cookies(see below)

I must warn you in advance- this makes a LOT of cookies! Even with my "seconds please!" bunch, these cookies lasted us a week! You may need to use the biggest mixing bowl you have to make this. I don't have very big mixing bowls, and found out the hard way that if you're not prepared, you will make a HUGE mess with it! I ended up using the ceramic bowl from my crockpot to finish- it was THAT much cookie dough by the end! But, even with the transferring bowls (and the large amount of butter…) it was totally worth it! And don't let the name fool you, these cookies are good for breakfast, snack, dessert, or just about anytime you want a sweet cookie! These cookies are proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. Trust me- they are that good.

2 c. whole-wheat flour

2 c. all-purpose flour

1 ½ tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. coarse (or sea) salt

4 sticks butter, room temperature

3 c. packed dark-brown brown sugar

4 large eggs

1 TBS. plus 1 tsp. vanilla

4 c. rolled oats

1 c. Raw chopped almonds (can be found in bulk dried goods section of most supermarkets)*

½ c. raw pumpkin seeds*

½ c. raw sunflower seeds*

½ c. shredded unsweetened dried coconut*

½ c. raisins or currants*

½ c. chopped dried mango*

¼ c. finely chopped papaya*

1 cup dried banana chips*

*If you can't find a certain dried nut/fruit in your local grocery store, just double-up on the ones that you can.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  1. Whisk together flours, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Beat butter in an extra large bowl with a mixer until light and fluffily. Add sugar; beat until well combined. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each. Add vanilla; beat until just combined.
  3. Slowly add flour mixture, and beat until well combined. Add oats, dried nuts and dried fruits, and beat to combine.
  4. Form dough into large cookies(the original recipe says 1 cup each for 8 mega cookies, or ½ cup for 16 larger than normal cookies, but I just used a large serving spoon and got about 32 cookies). Place on 2(or more, I ended up using 4) parchment-lined baking sheets.
  5. Bake until golden and firm, 15-25 minutes (depending on size of cookies). Let cool completely on baking sheets, 25-30 minutes. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to one week.



Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Dinner Recipes for: October 14- 19, 2012

Not-Fried Cheesy Chicken
This is a very flexible recipe. You can make it according to what you have and what your family prefers.
Makes: about 8-10 servings
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken (your choice-breast, tenderloin, or thighs)
1 cup Italian breadcrumbs (see below)
2 eggs, scrambled
4 Tbs. butter, melted, plus extra for pan (see directions, optional)
½-¾ cup shredded cheese (your choice- cheddar, mozzarella, or Monterey/Monterey Jack, etc.) to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  1. Put eggs in a small bowl and breadcrumbs in a medium bowl. Spray a 9x13 inch baking dish with cooking spray, or rub bottom of pan with butter
  2. Dunk chicken into eggs, and then put egg-coated chicken into bowl with breadcrumbs. Make sure both sides are covered with breadcrumbs.
  3. Put chicken in baking dish.
  4. Mix ½- ¼ cup cheese with remaining 4 Tbs. butter. Spread mixture on top of breaded chicken pieces.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
  6. Enjoy!

You can buy breadcrumbs pre-made, or you can make your own. Recipe adapted from Family Fun- To make 1 cup, all you'd need is 2 pieces of your favorite bread, torn up and pulsed in a blender or food processor until crumbled. If you want to make them Italian, all you have to do is add Italian seasoning mix. Most stores sell it. You can toast it in the oven a few minutes if you want to brown it, but I'm not very good at this so I can't speak of it from experience. I tend to burn things trying to toast them(I tend to think anything in the oven=a chance to sit down and read a story to the kids, or check Facebook…thus why I burn things that only need to be in the oven for a small amount of time).

Cauliflower Macaroni and Cheese
Makes 8 servings
I found this from Family Fun
2 Tbs. butter, plus more for buttering the dish
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Cup breadcrumbs (see recipe, above)
1 small head cauliflower (to make about 7 cups of small florets)
1 lb. macaroni
12 oz. sharp cheddar, grated
1 cup sour cream
Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter a 9x13 inch baking dish with additional butter
  1. Put a large pot of water on to boil and salt it heavily. Make sure to taste it. If it's not as salty as seawater, add more salt.
  2. While the water is coming to a boil, melt the butter in a medium pan over medium heat and sauté the garlic until it's fragrant, about 2 ½ minutes. Add the bread crumbs and stir them in the butter and garlic just until they're coated, 30-45 seconds. Set the bread crumbs aside.
  3. Cut off the end of the cauliflower. Discard any ragged leaves (if you have a reptile or other vegetarian pet, feed these to him/her-check it's not toxic to them first!) Cut the head into very small florets and, if you like, thinly slice the stalk.
  4. Check the pasta package for the cooking time. Stir the pasta into the pot of boiling water. When there are 8 minutes left, add the cauliflower. If the pasta takes less than 8 minutes to cook, start with the cauliflower, and then add the pasta at the right time. Just make sure the cauliflower cooks 8 minutes!
  5. In a heat-proof bowl, mix the cheese and sour cream. Place over top of boiling pot of cauliflower/pasta, stirring the mixture occasionally until melted(This is optional, I mixed the two together and skipped to step 6, and everyone said it came out fine). Add pepper to taste.
  6. If heating cheese/sour cream mixture, remove the sauce carefully using oven mitts once the cheese is melted. Once the pasta/cauliflower is tender, reserve ½ cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta and cauliflower. Return them to the pot, add the cheese/sour cream mixture and the reserved pasta water, and stir to combine. Add salt to taste.
  7. Put the pasta and cauliflower in buttered 9x13 baking dish. Sprinkle the bread crumbs on top, and put the pan in the oven.
  8. Bake about 12-15 minutes, until the bread crumbs are browned and the sauce is bubbling. Serve hot.

Multi-purpose Dough
The original recipe uses this dough for pizza, but I've found at least three uses for it since I've had the recipe- pizza, breadsticks, and dough for hot pockets. I've tried a lot of pizza dough recipes, and it seems as though they either took too long, didn't yield the results I hoped for, or weren't very friendly towards other uses. This one doesn't take too long, yields a healthy (and yummy!) result, and as I mentioned earlier, is very multi-purpose friendly.
You can bake it as intended immediately, or you can also freeze or refrigerate the dough until you need it. Just make sure to punch the dough down and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap if freezing it. Thaw it for 2-3 hours at room temperature or in the fridge overnight.
Makes- 1 large pizza crust, about 10-20 breadsticks (depending on how big you want them), or about 10-15 hot pockets
1 1/3 cups warm water
2 ½ tsp. (or one ¼ oz. package) active dry yeast
1 tsp. sugar
2 ½ Tbs. olive oil
1 ¼ cups whole wheat flour
¾ toasted wheat germ
1 ¼-1 ½ cups bread flour, plus more for dusting
1 tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  1. In a large bowl, stir together the water, yeast and sugar. Set the mixture aside until bubbly and foamy, about 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mix together the wheat flour, wheat germ, 1 ¼ cups of the bread flour, and salt.
  3. After yeast mixture becomes foamy and bubbly, stir in the olive oil.
  4. With a wooden spoon, slowly mix the flour mixture into the yeast mixture. You may need to work the last bits of the flour mixture into the yeast mixture with your hands.
  5. Sprinkle a little of the bread flour onto a dry work surface.
  6. Put the dough onto the work surface, and knead the dough until it's soft, about 10 minutes. If it's too sticky to handle, add a few tablespoons of bread flour into the dough as you knead it.
  7. Put a little oil in the large bowl you used for the yeast mixture. Place the dough in the bowl and roll it around to coat the dough with oil.
  8. Cover the bowl with a kitchen/hand towel, set it in a warm spot (on your stovetop, etc.), and let rise for about an hour or until double in size.
  9. Once double in size, use the dough as intended. See below for ideas.
  10. Bake about 10-20 minutes, let cool a few minutes before serving.

For Pizza-
Roll out onto pizza pan or baking sheet. You can lightly dust the pizza pan or baking sheet with flour or cornmeal. Top with your choice of sauce, cheese, and veggie/meat toppings. Bake 20 minutes
For Breadsticks-
Roll out dough and cut into 10-20 pieces with sharp knife/pizza cutter. You can either twist the dough or leave the pieces as they are. Lay dough pieces onto a lightly dusted baking sheet, optional (see "For Pizza"). For garlic breadsticks- Melt 5 tablespoons butter. Mix melted butter with ½ tsp. garlic powder. Brush onto dough pieces. Bake for 10-15 minutes.
For cheesy garlic breadsticks- melt 5 tablespoons butter. Mix melted butter with ½ tsp. garlic powder and about ¼- ½ cup cheese of your choice (cheddar or mozzarella or a mix of both). Brush onto dough, follow directions for garlic breadsticks.
For Hot pockets-
Roll out dough until it's about as large as it would be for a pizza. Cut into about 10-15 squares with sharp knife or pizza cutter. Add desired fillings (don't pile it on!), making sure to leave some space on each side of the square. Stretch and fold the dough overtop of the filling. Place on a baking sheet. Bake 15-20 minutes.
If you have any questions or suggestions about any of the recipes, feel free to comment below or contact me on my Facebook page!
Happy Cooking!



Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Breakfast Recipes for: October 14-19, 2012

BLT Quesadilla Wrap
Makes- 1 wrap
1 homemade tortilla (see recipe, below) OR 1 flour tortilla
1 tsp. butter
¼ cup shredded cheese
3 slices cooked bacon
2-3 tomato slices
A little spinach, lettuce, or any other leafy green you have available
Ranch/mayo/honey mustard dressing (your choice)

  1. Heat large skillet with medium heat. Melt butter on skillet. Lay tortilla in the skillet and add bacon and cheese. Fold in half with a spatula, and cook 2-3 minutes on each side until both sides have brown spots and tortilla is somewhat crispy.
  2. Transfer quesadilla to a plate, open carefully. Lay leafy green and tomato down the middle. Drizzle dressing of choice. Roll or fold tortilla.
  3. Enjoy!
Homemade Tortillas
You can use these immediately, or make them and fridge/freeze them for a later time.
Makes 6-10 tortillas
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup warm water
2 cups flour
1/4 cup shortening or lard
  1. In a mixing bowl, combine salt and flour.
  2. Add shortening or lard to flour mixture. Working mixture with your hands, smoosh the shortening or lard into the flour. It may stick to your hands at first. Just keep smooshing until it comes to fine, even crumbles in the bowl.
  3. Add water mixture slowly, still mixing with your hands until mixture is chunky. If using whole wheat flour, you may need to add a few additional teaspoons of water to make it wet and chunky.
  4. Turn onto a floured surface, and knead gently about 5-10 times, or until it forms together into one big ball.
  5. Divide big ball into 6-10 balls (depending on what size pan you're using, or how big you want them).
  6. Sprinkle a clean, dry surface with some flour. Roll each ball  to desired size with a rolling pin.
  7. Cook in a (pre-warmed) skillet on medium-high heat for about 30-45 seconds per side until browned (or a few brown spots appear).
    *NOTE* it might sizzle a little when it hits the pan. If it starts smoking, reduce the heat.

Raspberry Cheesecake Oatmeal
Makes- 1 serving
½ cup old fashioned oats
½ cup unsweetened milk OR
½ cup vanilla flavored milk
1 mashed medium banana
Splash of vanilla
2 Tbs. softened cream cheese
1 tsp. powdered sugar or more (suit to taste)
1 Tbs. raspberry preserves
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine oats, milk, vanilla, and banana. Pour into a lightly greased baking dish.
  2. Combine cream cheese and powdered sugar. Put in a plastic Ziploc bag, snip off one end and squeeze two horizontal lines (space apart!) on top of oatmeal.
  3. Put raspberry preserves in another Ziploc bag. Snip off one end and squeeze two horizontal lines in between cream cheese lines.
  4. If desired, drag a knife over the cream cheese and raspberry lines to create a zigzag swirl
  5. Bake 20 minutes. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Spice Donuts/Muffins
Paleo-friendly! Thanks Heather from A Sweet Simple Life :D
1 cup almond butter
4 eggs
¼ cup raw or regular honey
2 tsp. vanilla
½ tsp. Sea or regular salt
½ tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
Honey to drizzle
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, put almond butter. Beat with a hand mixer until creamy. Add eggs, honey, and vanilla. Continue to beat until thoroughly blended.
  3. Add salt, baking powder, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice. Mix well.
  4. Place donuts in a well greased donut/muffin pan or an 8x8 baking dish. Bake 12-15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  5. Let cool 10 minutes, remove from pan. Drizzle with honey just before eating.


Monday, October 15, 2012

Weekly Menu for: October 14-19

Food is such a big part of our lives. I've debated on if I should share with everyone our weekly menu or just stick to topics related to our lives, and I've decided I need to do both. But since I have very limited time to blog today, I'm just going to post the menu. Later on this week, I'm hoping to post the recipes for each menu item.

When it comes to cooking, I've learned to try and work smarter not harder. I could easily cook a different meal, every meal, everyday, but I would be too exhausted to do much else by the end of the day (Ask me how I know this…). So, instead, I plan out three or four things to make for each meal and just double it.

Lunch is becoming my easiest meal of the day, because of a wonderful "friend" of mine on Facebook who runs a blog called, My4kiddos "Cooking and Homeschooling". She is a "real foods" lover, and does some wonderful lunch menus on her blog. If you want to see her lunch menus or recipes, click on the link below.

Now, without further ado…my menu for this week! J
BLT Quesadilla Wraps
Raspberry Cheesecake Oatmeal
Pumpkin Spice Donuts
Corn on the cob, strawberries, slices of cheese from a cheddar block, hard boiled egg
Toasted bagel thin with Peanut Butter and Banana slices, strawberries, clementine, granola peanut butter ball.
Cheesy Quesadilla, banana, cantaloupe, raspberries
Apple slices
Granola Peanut Butter Balls
Brown bag popcorn with butter, salt.
Not fried Cheesy Chicken, rice, broccoli
Cauliflower Macaroni and cheese, mixed veggies
Pizza with chicken, bacon, tomatoes topping, breadsticks, simple salad

What about you? Are you trying out any new recipes this week? Feel free to share them here or on my Facebook page.

Trying not to stuff my face with food,


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Super Mom Syndrome

Maybe it's just because schools around here started, or maybe it was because I was too wrapped up in my own little soap opera of…whatever-ness, but something's going on with moms.

No, not that something. We're not talking about that mom who's got it going onnnnn. I'm talking about the mom who has TOO much going on.

I'm sure I'm not the first to talk about this, because I've seen it mentioned several times before. But I thought to myself, a majority of moms know better than to push their minds and bodies beyond the limit. I mean, we may be juggling many roles and have our two hands full, but for the most part…we all know when to call it quits, right? We know our limits; we know when enough is enough.

Apparently, I was wrong.

For whatever reasons, God has blessed me with many opportunities over the past few weeks to really get to know the mommy friends I call…uhh..mommy friends. I mean, I knew of these wonderful women, but I didn't really take notice to all they do. It wasn't until I (somewhat haphazardly) jumped into their little world of busy, busy, and did I mention busy (?) that I got to know them for who they really are.

First off, these women are great. They are what most would consider "Super Moms". They attend all the PTA meetings, they volunteer regularly at their child's school; they help wipe snot off the little toddler's at Sunday school. On the outside, they seem like they got it all together.

But, after immersing myself into their world, I have found a side that no one wants to talk about or discuss. I call it "Super Mom Syndrome". These moms, they feel called by some higher force (God, PTA presidents, Girl Scout Troops and their crack-laced cookies, whatever) to do all that they do. I don't doubt for a minute that maybe, in the very beginning, that higher force really did call them to do something. After all, have you ever had those Girl Scout cookies? *drools*

What? Oh, right. They felt called to do something. Maybe God called them to do Sunday school. Maybe the PTA president called them and offered them the super-comfy chair in all the meetings. Maybe those gosh-darn Girl Scouts came to the door with puppy dog eyes, and a little red wagon full of cookies to be pimped. I mean, sold. Anyways, I won't deny their entry into the world of volunteer work. They felt called, and they should follow that calling. However, once you say "yes" to such commitments…you get a little high off of them.

Oh, don't you look at me funny because I compared what you do as a high. Take a deep look at yourself and admit it. The first time you did it, someone said to you, "good job!" or "you handled that like a pro!" or something to that effect. It made you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Someone noticed that you (a mom who rarely ever gets praise from your own family, who you work the hardest for) did something, and you totally rocked it. The kids you volunteer with gave you hugs…willingly. The head honcho (whoever that is to you) praised you. You realized, hey, you are freaking awesome. This (fill-in-the-blank) is totally your "thing". You can do this, and even better, people notice you doing it and praising you for it.

But just like that high you get once you've had an extra cup of coffee or snuck a piece of that chocolate you told the kids you were throwing away because "it's bad for you"(don't worry, I do it, too), you suddenly can't stop at one. The same people that praised you also throw in, "You can do this next week, right?" or "maybe you should consider a position in this (Sunday school, Troop leadership, VP of the PTA, etc.)." And, although you may politely refuse the position that makes you there all hours of the day, you may say, "Well, I can't do this all the time, but maybe…once more?". Then, you start to make friends with Betty Baking all the freaking time Crocker and Suzy I have a volunteer list that longer than my spiffy Hummer Homemaker. And you secretly think, "Wow, these women are amazing! They can do it all, why can't I??" Shortly after that, you sign up for another activity (that may or may not be higher-authority approved), and you get a DOUBLE high. It's like eating the whole candy bar in plain sight and the kids don't notice, baby! Then, you meet more of the Betty's and the Suzy's of the volunteer world, and you are encouraged, motivated even, to do more. You add a third activity, and you get a TRIPLE high. You're not only eating the chocolate in plain sight, you are eating an entire bag of it! Woo!! Now, of course, the praises are followed with, "You really should consider a position in this…" and, because you're so freaking high on praise and adoration, you're like, "HECK YEAH! GIMME SOME OF THAT!"

While you're off getting high on volunteering, suddenly you're angelic children are suddenly little demon spawn. They are complaining about doing activities (Sunday school, Girl/Boy Scouts, going to another PTA meeting with you…or worse, staying home with Daddy and who knows what he's making for dinner!). They grumble and get clingy. They start fighting with each other more, suddenly only want such-and-such a food and not a thing more. They suddenly become little walking advertisements for PMS, and they're not even old enough to reach puberty, much less the top of the counter! What gives?!

Don't they know that, in a sense, you're doing this for a higher power? Don't they understand that, in a small way, you're doing this also for them? After all, how would the PTA function without a VP? How would Sunday school class be taught if you weren't there every.single.week to teach it? How would the Girl/Boy Scouts get their camping badge if you don't take them out to camp? Don't they get it?

Suddenly, their little outburst of B&M'ing (Bitching and Moaning) becomes a regular occurrence. Your defenses go up. As a mom, you know something is wrong. Confused, you turn to one of your many Betty and/or Suzy friends and voice your concern. What are you doing wrong? Their children are angels, why aren't yours?

Then, Betty and Suzy reveal the truth. "Oh, my little Johnny only acts like that with you. At home, he's a complete monster!" or "Oh, my baby girl, she complains about coming here all the time, but once she's here, she just loves it!" They sigh and roll their eyes when their child comes over B&M'ing about being here for the third time in ten minutes. They say, it must be a phases, they'll get over it. They'll outgrow it. They'll be okay.

You try to allow their words to sink in. Their kids do it, so it must be normal, you reason. You follow their parenting; you roll your eyes in frustration. You sigh and say sweetly(even though you want to beat the living crap out of your kid...but, of course you won't, because the other moms never think such thoughts!) that, for the 50th and final time, no, you cannot leave this place and go home. You grit your teeth. You have a higher calling, and this must be the "thorn in your side". Yes, that must be it.

Before you know it, those activities that got you high are slightly more than you can endure. Your kids are grumpy, your house is a mess, and your husband may be getting sick of all the fast food you've had to order because you were simply just too busy to remember dinner. Or maybe he loves the fast food, but you're not loving the spare tire (and exploding biscuit can) that's seemed to develop around your middle. You're getting bags around your eyes because you are planning the next meeting in your dreams, plotting the next bake sale while waiting for the kids to finish soccer, and cutting out the Sunday school craft while watching television. You want to quit, or at the very least, ease up on some of the activities, but these people, these children…they need you. You can't say no, right?

I know where you're coming from. I've been in that spot more times than I care to admit (that high IS addictive!). As I look back on my own upbringing, I notice something.

My mother was very good at saying "no".

I'm not saying she was lazy or that she didn't find other ways of getting that "high" (another entry, darling…another entry). But she knew her limits. She knew she needed down time. While she may have taken it to the entirely different end of the spectrum (I really don't recall her volunteering for anything…), she still stuck to her guns and said "no". My mom was all but too happy to send us to anything under the sun that was low-cost and her attendance wasn't required. But at the same time, she loved trying to "get into our world", by trying to listen to our music and wear our kind of clothes. She was considered the "cool mom" by most of my friends. She watched movies with us, gave us all the junk food the corner store would allow her, and her boyfriend worked as an Ice Cream Truck Driver during the summer, and a Pizza-Hut delivery man year-round.

She was very good at saying "no".

Were my sister and I perfect children as a result? No. But, I would like to think both of us as having some sort of fond memory of her because when we really needed her, she was there. I don't recall her ever talking about our younger years as being a "little divas" or "clingy". I don't remember my mom ever being "too busy" to deal with me. She may have taken me to her job, but it wasn't something that was done because she needed to. It was always a special treat to go see where Mommy works. Lord knows there was an unspoken code of "you'd better be on your best behavior or else!" always in place. But, at the same time, I always wanted to be on my best behavior, because that meant I could go again to Mommy's job.

Am I saying all this to make you feel guilty? Should we mothers do a major exodus of all activities, leaving the Sunday Schools and Girl Scouts Troops to fend for themselves out in the wild, wild woods?


However, I think we need to take time to do what my mother did and learn to say "no" sometimes, to really think about our priorities. Did God (or those Girl Scout cookies) really call you to do all those activities? Or did He/She/It only call you to one or two, and you jumped the gun and took FIVE instead? And the time spent at home…do we really need to be sending/ checking up on 15 e-mails every 10 minutes about the next activity planned? Do we really need to constantly check our Facebook page to "like" the picture of Betty's newest baking creation or Suzy's rearranged kitchen(*looks around nervously* not that I do that or anything…)? Can we reduce the activities enough, stop the electronic chaos enough, to really stop and listen to our kids? Granted, they may be moaning about watching a particular show or that new recipe for meatloaf but simply showing them that you're fully attentive shows them you value their opinion, their feelings. Kids need to hear that, kids need to see that in action. If they see you loving up on and being attentive to other adults/ children, but come home snappy and unfeeling towards them, they are going to feel a little resentment towards that activity. They are going to lash out to get some attention.

Please don't think I'm on this soap box without understanding how "it is". I worked jobs outside the home, I've attended school outside the home, and I've done a long list of activities outside the home. I tried hard to accept my bratty, cranky children that resulted from me being busy, busy, busy all the time. My kids are still in some ways, in the same spot as your children may be now.

Something inside me said this is NOT okay. I cut back on a lot of things. I'm still trying to listen, really listen to my kids. I'm not on this soapbox because I like to point the finger (no, not that finger), but because I've seen it, lived it, going through it.

Sure, you may still be busy, busy, and busy until they reach adulthood and they may still turn out okay. They may even be outstanding citizens. But why wait until then to find out? Why miss the opportunities God gave you with them now, the ministry you have at home? The ministry called your children, and your family.

A mom's time is precious. Why willingly spend a great chunk of it on children that aren't yours and may not even remember you 20 years down the road? Why take that momentary high for the lifetime high of baking with your kids, reading those bedtime stories, listening to their endless babble, trying to "get into their world"? You may not get all the thanks you really deserve from it.

Don't you want your children to be able to look back on their childhood, remembering you not as Super Mom to everyone else, but as the mom that was there for them when they really thought they needed you? Will it really matter to them that you were Betty Baking all the freaking time for other people Crocker or Suzy look at my endless list of activities that are no fun to my children Homemaker?

Let's take off our Super Mom capes and wean ourselves off that volunteer high. Let's learn to say "no", and put our priorities, our energy, and our love, our full and undivided attention where they really belong.

In the freezer, sneaking those pieces of chocolate we told the kids we were throwing away.

…I mean, home! Let's do all that stuff at HOME. Let's learn to say no to "Super Mom Syndrome" before it even knocks on our door with those crack-laced cookies.




Wednesday, August 8, 2012


I had intentionally delayed writing this post for some time. I tried very hard to tell it all in a humorous way. But it was still too fresh a pain. So I put it off for a bit until I knew I could write it without crying.  Forgive me if it sounds random or bitter, m'kay?
The man I mentioned in the past two entries has decided for reasons that my heart will not understand to terminate potential anything’s going on between us. I wish I could have enough respect for him to continue calling him “the Gentleman”, but over the past week he has proven to me that he doesn’t deserve such a title.
I’m not saying that because I’m bitter or angry over the situation. I had full intentions on continuing to call him by that name. No matter how hurt or angry I was, I really did think he was a gentleman. That is, until I saw a side of him I never expected to see. And, of course, it wasn’t until my heart stopped having mushy feelings for him that it all made sense.
I won’t get into all the nitty-gritty details of it, but even when he had cut ties with me, even when he had the opportunity to tell the truth, he had instead opted to lie to me. After taking a few days to ponder it all, I finally saw what I didn’t want to admit. What I hoped was not true. He had lied to me.
I thought I had made it clear to him that no matter what, NEVER EVER lie to me. I don’t care if you’re doing it because you’re afraid you’ll hurt my feelings. I don’t care if he did it with the intentions of still wanting to remain on good terms. He lied to me, and if anyone who knows my past well enough knows I have zero tolerance for liars.
And for whatever reasons, he did it anyways. Granted, it was in small ways that wouldn’t normally amount to anything. But, I have found, if people lie about the small things, then they are more likely to lie about the big things. With each lie comes the lack of concern for those involved, and truth becomes too harsh a reality to accept.
You see, in my past, I have had several long-term relationships with liars. You would think after dealing with so many, I’d spot one a mile away. And normally, I do. But because I had become friends with this man long before I had hoped for anything romantic, I had let down my guard. Shame on me for doing so.  
I have always told him and anyone else who I’m close with (friends, relatives, etc.)…don’t lie to me. I don’t care how angry or upset you think I might be with the truth. I probably will be angry, but I will respect you a thousand times more because you cared enough to tell me the truth. I will AlWAYS  forgive the truth, but I become bitter with lies. Dealing with a liar makes me see red. And seeing red is not exactly something you want me to do, especially if you fully intend or hope to remain in my life or the life of my family. And whether you care to accept it or not, all my friends I consider a part of my family.
I won’t tell my life’s story here, but when it comes to romantic relationships, I have pretty much had a taste of all the things that can go wrong- Emotional/sexual/physical abuse, incarcerations, drug addictions, etc. And I tend to think of myself as a very tolerant person, even when it comes to abuses made to me. That’s not to say I don’t go looking for such abuses, I just mean that when I was involved in such relationships, I could take quite a few blows in any given department before I walk away. I guess that’s just the part of me that always tends to hope and look for the best in people.
However, the one that hurts the most is under emotional abuse…lying. While all of them hurt and take years of undoing, dealing with notorious liars haunts me longer than the others. I guess because all the other abuses center on lying in some way or another. Sexual abuse affects the body, and the parts mentioned can recuperate, but it’s the lies we tell ourselves while undergoing it that make it hard to move past. Physical abuse may bruise the body, and the wounds will eventually heal; but it’s the lies of “I’ll never do it again” that make it hard to accept it for what it is. Drug addictions from those we love can be forgiven, but it’s the betrayal, the lying and stealing that often accompanies it that makes us lose trust in a recovering addict. And don’t even get me started on the jail issue.
A man that lies is a man that reminds me all too well of my past. And I have worked too damn hard to move beyond my past to have it slap me in the face once again.
Yes, the man mentioned broke up with me. And yes, it hurt. I blamed myself many times. Up until a few days ago, I didn’t dare say any of it was his fault(lack of communication) because I really didn’t think it was(maybe I was asking for too much too soon?), and I didn’t want to sound bitter. I cared enough about him as a friend and person that I didn’t want to ruin that because of my mistakes. I respected his unspoken desire for privacy and never mentioned his name. Only a small circle of people know his real name, and that’s only because I know they don’t know him or don’t talk to him.
But, after seeing him lie to me, not once, but many times before and after breaking up with me, I have lost all respect for him. I know he didn’t know it, but he brought me to a place in my heart and mind that I hadn’t been to in years.
I went back to my raw place. I trusted him long before I liked him. Whether he wanted it or not, for a brief moment he had a place in my heart. He had long had it as a friend, but he suddenly took up more space in there as a beau. And now that he has not only broken up with me but has also lied to me…that space I had in my heart for him is raw, vacant. All the pleasant memories gone. All the sweet gestures and good times we shared are now pushed back in the closet of my mind. He is no longer the friend I thought he was. He is no longer the man he presented himself to be.
The worst part is I haven’t had a raw state in my heart for years. When I did, I wasn’t living my faith. I didn’t have God; I didn’t know he could fill those spaces. I had instead filled the raw places with bitterness, anger, sadness and sex.
I’ve tried hard over this short time to not go to that place. To fill the space left in my heart with such things. And I will admit I haven’t done a very good job of it. All but one I haven’t allowed.
I can forgive the fact that we didn’t work out. And it’s going to be really hard, but I will eventually forgive the fact that I not only lost a potential something, but what I thought was a great friend.  But the lying is something I’m going to need God’s help with forgiving, because I won’t forgive it on my own. Right now, the scars of it all are too fresh. And until God can mend up the raw and vacant places in my heart, I don’t know if I can forgive him completely.
I never really expected this to come from him. Because he was so different than what I’ve dealt with, I held him to a much higher standard. I didn’t expect him to be perfect, because I know we all fall short. But, considering what he has told me about his past, I though he would have learned from that experience not to do what was done to him. Just as I’ve discovered that I’m not as far beyond my past as I thought, I see now that neither is he. We both have some learning to do. But because of his lying, there is no chance of us ever attempting to move forward together. He has burned bridges I don’t think he realizes he has set fire to.
Also, I simply can’t trust myself to fall in love or hope for something of the sort. A lot of people think that when you lose trust, you often lose it in others. The truth is that you do to some degree; however you often lose it more in yourself. You doubt your ability to have a sense of normal in that area, because your version of normal was twisted and skewed. You’re suddenly not sure of that feeling in your gut telling you something is right and wrong. You wonder if you even know what real love looks like, feels like. And that’s the worst feeling of all.
So, I’m going to intentionally stop hoping and trying to find someone. I know myself well enough to know I don’t think I can handle another possible betrayal. I don’t want to become bitter towards all men because of the mistakes of a few idiots I allowed into my life. Everything inside of me craves intimacy and God-inspired love in the right form. But I just can’t have it now. I can’t trust that voice inside of me that desperately wants the love only a man can bring. I just can’t do it.
Yes, I’m raw, but I’m not broken. Not yet, anyways. I pray with everything within me that I never become broken beyond what God has already brought me through. Do I want to test the depths of that? No. So, I am taking this time to go into a corner, lick my wounds, and mend. And I’m not going to put myself in a position to return to my raw place. It hurts too much. It takes too much out of me. As a friend of mine reminded me, romantic love is nice, but my kids always come first. Allowing me to be in this position takes away energy, time, and places in my heart and mind from my kids. And while the world may disappoint me many times over, two things will always remain- God and my kids.
And raw places that will eventually heal.
Until next time,

Thursday, July 26, 2012

A “New Season” and “Potentially Something Wonderful” Update

Okay, I know I've been slacking when it comes to this blog. That is my fault, and to those who enjoy reading all the Udder Chaos I type, I am really sorry.

So, I'm going to try and update all you on the progress of…everything in one blog post. Hope ya got your reading glasses on, this one's a whopper!

In case you didn't manage to read the last blog post…you'd better read it. No, seriously, I'm not typing that all up again. Take a moment now and read it, then come back to this post. *taps fingers patiently*….Okay, did you read it? Good. A few things have happened since then. Well, to those who are married, or even have more interesting social lives than I do, (heifers! I mean…you lucky people, you!) it may not seem so big. But to little ol' me, it was big.

We (the Gentleman and I) had our first heart-to-heart…in a relationship-type setting. Okay, maybe the term heart-to-heart isn't so appropriate. It was more like a "letting out skeletons in our closet" for both of us. I don't think we let out all the skeletons, but we did let out some. I informed him as gently (*snicker* just kidding, I do nothing gently!) as I could that I don't call my life "udder chaos" for nothing. Most normal people (but we've established I am FAR from normal by now, haven't we?!) would be freaking out about such revelations. But to me, it was…dare I say…refreshing. Call me crazy, but it's sort of nice to know that I'm entering a relationship where the other person is not trying to put up a false pretense of who they are in the beginning. Because I have been in one too many relationships that start out that way, and it hurts when you find out the real truth behind a person, after giving your heart to the person you thought they were. It's nice to know that just because we've entered a relationship, that I don't have to pretend to be "Little Miss Sunshine" all the time and he doesn't have to be "Mr. Perfect" all the time. We both can let our hair down (don't you DARE mention that last post! Got it?!) and just be ourselves.

And he gave what we have a name. He didn't say it "outright" but he hardly ever says anything that way. He just sort of dances around it for a bit, throws it around loosely, and expects me to take the hint. If I'm wrong on this, I'm sure he is gentleman enough to correct me. But, he gave me a hint; I'm taking it and running!!! ;)

He (loosely) said we have a relationship. We threw some skeletons at each other, and now we have a relationship! Okay, wait…that doesn't sound nearly as romantic as it did in my head. I mean…he said we are in a relationship! I can't stop smiling over it. He didn't run for the hills after all! The hair issue was no big deal! The conversation(which I won't go into details here about…but found out later by everyone and their mama that what I thought was a good conversation starters should never be mentioned on a first date) we had in the car didn't make him squirm and question my sanity! The first date was actually a success! Even better- he says there will be a second date! He never said when yet (*ahem*...hope you're reading this, Gentleman!*hint*hint*), but the fact that he considers me good enough for a second date makes me want to jump for joy!

As if I didn't have enough reasons to be happy, you'll never guess what else I did the night of the date! *blushes* no, not THAT! I checked my weight! Don't ask me why I did; after all, I'm sure that's not exactly the greatest way to get ready for a date. But I did. And guess what?! After over a month of biking, eating as well as I could and praying…I had no results. So, I stopped biking, walked a little bit, started doing more cleaning around the house, and eating a little bit less(but still as good as I could manage) and guess what? I lost five pounds! *jaw drops* How is THAT for irony?

Before the Gentleman came into the picture, I honestly stopped the whole "trying hard to do the 'E' word" thing. My youngest daughter's bike is not built for long trips on uneven ground. As a result, it became more of a pain than a pleasure to do the biking. I would have to stay behind everyone else, so she wouldn't feel bad. I didn't pedal as much as I know I could have. It was nice, but at the same time, it was frustrating. I wanted to be able to really go, and I felt like I was hardly moving. I'm not giving excuses; I'm just telling you why I stopped. I may get her another bike with more durable tires, and we may try it again soon. One last thing got in the way of our ability to continue biking. It's called "Summer". I thought we'd be okay, but we were dying in the heat! Some days we would come home dripping in sweat, and not because of a good workout. Simply put, it's HOT! I couldn't let my kids continue to workout in that heat. I couldn't continue to workout in that heat. So, we're stopping the biking for exercise until it cools off a bit more (early Fall?).

However, now that the Gentleman is in the picture, and rumor has it he enjoys one form of the "E" word…I started to pick it up the "E" word again. Just in another way. The kids and I have started walking places instead of taking our bikes on days that the weather is bearable. I did the yoga DVD I had here once so far this week. I'm hoping the kids and I can re-start the habit of walking after dinner, and some "E" DVD on the days when the weather makes it not possible. I know the Gentleman isn't all about looks and body image (because if he was, he sure as heck wouldn't of picked me to date!). I guess that old saying, "a relationship can make a person want to be better" is going into effect with me. I didn't want to go into any form of a relationship with the body I have now; but I did, and now I feel more compelled to make sure I don't stay this way.

Maybe this relationship (I love saying that!) came at the right time, after all. J

And when it comes to food, I have become sick of eating. No, I'm not unhealthy or anything. Every summer, I just hate eating. The less I eat during the summer, the better. I never manage to starve myself or become sick as a result of it. I just don't want to eat as much. Anyone else get like this during the summer, too? Maybe that's just me. *shrugs*

Despite it being summer, something else happened that I didn't expect- we started "formal" homeschooling again. We tried to start it a few months back, but then summer came. I figured, why not kick back and enjoy the summer? So, I stopped. We all were happy at first. It was like our first days of deschooling all over again. We got to wake up whenever, we went to bed whenever. They read (if they wanted to), watched some educational movies, played outside, went to the library and did a few other educational and fun activities.

But then…the kids started to get cranky. They started fighting more. They became whiny, complaining about just about everything they could think of. Suddenly, the "fun" activities of going to the library and any other free activities I got word of were dreaded and met with much bitterness. They missed their school, their schedule. Do I blame them for that? No. Because in all honesty, I missed it, too. We were all miserable. So, I talked it over with them, and we started homeschooling again. Yes, right in the middle of summer.

And you know what? Although I felt bad for saying, "no, sorry, we can't…we homeschool during that time." to others, I'm feel so much better for it. The routine was comforting, soothing. We missed homeschooling. It has become such a part of our lives that no matter how much we try to add more to it or let loose with it, we eventually go back to what we know works. Call it stuck in our ways, or whatever you like, but I just know that this is what works for us. This is what our version of normal life looks like. We're not always tied down to a schedule, books, and workbooks. We have off and on times in our homeschool. But at the same time, we know when those will be. Maybe we are sticklers for schedules, after all. Just not one in the traditional sense.

I'm also still attending online college. I'm in my second semester now. Although I feel like I could always do better, I know I'm trying. I'm passing enough so far to continue taking classes, and that's all I'm worried about. I wish I could earn straight A's, but I don't have the time commitment to do grade A work, all the time. But, I'm still hanging in there!

One thing I would like to work on this summer, for my own personal sake, is to read my Bible more. Not to sound all glorified and saintly (I'm far from that!), but I do try to get it in every day. I don't always succeed at that. But, I would like to challenge myself to read the Bible in a year or less. I know on the mornings I do read it, I feel more at peace about everything. I actually have a better day, because of spending the first few moments awake with my heavenly Father. I need to work on doing this more. For my sanity's sake.

I did have to let go of one thing, though. I gave up my frugal ways. At first, it didn't matter, because I had a big enough stockpile that I didn't have to shop all the time. Now my stockpile is almost bare, and I'm cringing each time I go to the store. I know sometime next week, I will have to pick this back up. I have to get back in the game. Not sure how I'm going to find time to do it, but I know I do miss it a bit and my cupboards look sickly without me doing it. I have to somehow manage my time better to make sure this happens.

I'm in a busy and evolving season. I guess God does this as a way to keep me on my toes. Either that, or give me more reasons to appreciate coffee…

Until next time,


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Potentially Something Wonderful

Okay, so just when I thought, Hey, I'm getting the hang of all this udder chaos in my life. I got this! God decides to add another chapter into my life.

After a six year halt to anything closely resembling it, I dare to say…I finally had a date.

Wait…did you hear that? I had a date!!!

Yes, and that made this very mature mama of three suddenly feel like a giddy young girl being asked to the spring ball. I won't name names yet, because after all, it was the first date. I'm not entirely sure what the next step is (another date? Him running for the hills, never to speak to me again? Something better? Something worse?) . And because I was too timid to ask, I really don't know for sure how he felt about it. Plus, there was an incident with my hair. Regardless of where we stand, I hope we can both laugh about it someday.

Okay, for those of you that don't know…I always have issues with my hair. I love my hair, don't get me wrong, but…it has a mind of its own. I have come to laugh it off, make jokes about it, and overall accept it for what it is. It's like my children- I try hard to discipline it, keep it in its place, but at the end of the day, I love it too much to do anything extreme to make sure the rules are obeyed. Now, what does this have to do with my date? Well…there was a snuggle incident. I had been silently praying for this guy to touch me in some way the entire night. No, not like that. I meant just hold my hand, or attempt to do the stretch him arms over his head and wrap his arm around my shoulders trick. But, either he was too much of a gentleman, too shy, or just as lost in the sauce about the whole ordeal as I was, because he didn't try any of that. I thought, maybe I was staring too hard at the movie screen, and he thought I was more interested in the movie than him (not true-I was trying not to make him uncomfortable by constantly admiring him. I won't lie- he's hot stuff! ). Maybe I bored him to tears with my talk about processed foods while we were talking over ice-cream?

Don't look at me that way…I'm a fat girl, who was trying very hard not to talk about my kids all night. Or homeschooling/college courses that I'm trying hard not to fail. Or how long I had been waiting for him to ask me out. Or how great he looked and smelled, without sounding like a weirdo with sensory issues. What else did you think I was going to talk about?!

An-y-ways, I finally got tired of waiting and put my head on his shoulder. Nothing too scandalous, right? I mean, if he freaked out over it, I could just say, I was falling asleep and wasn't aware of where my head was…uhh...headed. Well, he didn't freak out. He tried to lay his head on top of mine. And here was where he was met with a forest of hair.

I'm almost certain he missed 10 minutes of the movie trying to get out of it. It was that bad. I apologized once he found his way out. He said it was okay. I was silently cursing my hair for its big-ness. Major brownie points lost. No mention of second date, no kiss goodnight. I think I saw him attempting to run from my house. In that "oh my gosh, she can probably smell fear, so let me run like I'm trying to dodge raindrops and not run for dear life" sort of way.

I'm almost certain this is not how people make good first impressions on a date. *facepalm*

But, if he can get over that issue…I could definitely see more dates in our future. However, as I said before, I'm not sure of how he feels since he gave all indications towards the end that he was no longer interested. Or maybe I'm reading too hard into all this. I really, really hope I didn't scare him off. Until I know for sure he's not embarrassed to be associated with me, I'm going to keep him anonymous on my blog. If he would just tell me (I know I know…most men aren't so open with their feelings. But a girl can dream, right?) a bit more of what he was feeling, even if it was, "You know, I think we're just better off as friends…" then I wouldn't be freaking out so much about this.

Again with the reading too hard into this. *sigh*

Can you tell I'm not very patient when it comes to matters of the heart? Can you tell I really like this guy? I can't help it…I've waited a long time for him to ask me. He has been giving me mixed signals for several months now. One minute I feel like I'm one step closer to a potential something wonderful with him; the next, I feel like I've messed it all up and he'll never speak or associate with me again.

Either he's just as interested (dare I hope?), or he enjoys watching the udder chaos called my life and just sticks around for funsies.

Does Mama Jenn finally have a…a…boyfriend??? *GULP*

I guess you're just going to have to keep checking back to find out!

Until next time…



Saturday, June 30, 2012

A New Season of Life- FOOD

First and foremost- I apologize that this post is late. I had an issue with my laptop, and couldn't blog until it was resolved. This post has been saved in my laptop for almost two weeks as a result. I will update the changes over the next week, I promise! J
Well, today I started the second part of my family's healthier lifestyle changes. It's probably the greatest, because it deals with something dear to my heart. I could go on and on about how much I love this part, but I'll spare you the sappy details.
You know what I'm talking about- FOOD. You know that old joke, "I love you like a fat kid loves cakes..." I'm sure we've all wondered who the fat kid is that loves cakes that much. Well, I'm not trying to brag or anything, but…I'm that fat kid. Err, person. I love food. I'm slowly working up the courage to ask food if it loves me back. But that's another blog entry. *wink*wink*

Anyways, I wanted to find a way of eating healthier without saying or implementing the gosh-forsaken "D" word. Fat girls cry when hearing that word. Or at least this one does. It brings back images of eliminating parts (or worse- all) of our favorite food groups, rumbling stomachs, stinky breath. Viewing foods in categories-good, bad, and don't-even-dream-of-this-or-else-you-will-gain-any-weight-you-lost-plus-ten-extra-pounds. Consuming products that dogs wouldn't even touch, and consuming a lot of it. Images of smashing scales because we did everything right, and yet they have the nerve to tell us it's not doing a gosh darn thing.
Are your eyes misting, too??? I know mines are. It might be allergies, though…in case yours weren't, I mean.
So, just for the record, healthy does NOT equal diet. I don't care what your girlfriend at the salon told you. It rarely ever adds up.
This is what I had to keep in mind as I searched for a new way of eating. I also didn't want anything to do with counting calories. This may work for some, but counting calories does several things to me. First of all, adding or subtracting means math. And I'm an emotional eater. There are four things that make me stress eat- money, school, men, and math. I see math figures and my hands cannot grab chocolate fast enough. You don't believe me? Show me a statistics paper, tell me to do it, and see what happens. Yes, it's like THAT. Second, counting calories makes me feel like I'm missing something. I'll load up on foods low in calories, and then I'll think, "Darn, I could have had (a piece of dark chocolate, an extra cup of coffee loaded with cream and sugar, a piece of cheese, etc.) instead of this." Then I start to hate food, and then I starve. Hell hath no fury like a mama on an empty stomach. Third, I already have enough on my (time) plate to worry about. I don't exactly leap for joy debating on if the way I made my chicken for dinner counts as an entire day's worth of calories. Lastly, you have to debate on each food as being part of the "good" calories or the "bad" calories. Because whoever makes those sort of list clearly has them mixed up, anyways.
I don't want diet, and I don't enjoy counting calories. So, what do I do? I search the internet, of course! I tried looking for something that was healthy but doesn't omit anything I love. Something that doesn't leave me starving, and at the same time, doesn't leave me any chances to overeat.
Then I thought back to my teen and young adult days. I remember reading books and watching documentaries on the scary stuff that's in most of our processed foods. I remember banning fast food restaurants. I remember going vegan. I remember hating being vegan (I love bacon too much).

Should you eat bacon? All signs point to "YES!!"
  I looked back into those books, those documentaries. They always said something at the end of them. It wasn't count calories; it had nothing to do with going on a diet. It had everything to do with being more conscious of where our food comes from. And not supporting places that treat animals inhumanely, or produce their fruits and vegetables with a ton of junk. Will it make you lose weight? Possibly. Will it make you healthier? Absolutely. This is the approach I wanted to use.

This is the approach I hope to use
But, how to implement it? While I pride myself on eating more fruits and vegetables in a day than I did in a week as a child, I'm still eating the same types of fruits, vegetables and meats. I haven't expanded my palate much. Again, I searched the internet. But, surprisingly, the answer to my problem came from a site I practically live on. That site is Facebook.
Yes, Facebook. You see, I have many friends and like many pages. Some of the friends and pages I read about are homesteaders, some are organics-everything. After hearing about this wonderful little blog about a mom trying to rid herself and her family of processed foods on several of these sorts of pages, I figured, I'd better see what this woman is all about. This woman, although not trying to lose weight, looks healthy and vibrant. She talks about trying to win her kids and husband over on the changes. She shares her struggles, her triumphs, and her investigating fast food places she used to love. She has meal plans and recipes already complied. Over the past two or three weeks, I have probably visited her site more than I have Facebook. I have written down recipes, downloaded meal plans. And if I couldn't use a meal on her plan, I managed to find another website that implements the same idea. So, between the two, I have found exactly what I was looking for.

I am only making some small changes of my own, in order to reduce money spent and start using up some canned/frozen items I have managed to stockpile over the past year or so. My goal is, over the next year or two to get rid of all the canned/frozen items I accumulated and slowly replace them with more organic/local, less processed items. I would also like to start a small garden. Since I don't think my landlord will approve me gardening in their precious dirt (*rolls eyes*), I thought I would do the garden in several hanging pots. But, that, too, is another blog entry reserved for another day.
If you are trying to implement better foods in your diet, or if you just want to know a little bit more about what is in some of the foods you eat, I suggest you check out the blog and website below.
Here is the blog I mentioned-
And here is the alternative website I mentioned that implements the same idea. Even if you don't want to do the "real foods" changes, this is still a great website to check out for meal ideas to save money and find a definition of healthy that fits you best-
I hope you make time to look at both. They are very informative and offer many yummy recipes that I can't wait to try out. If you're joining me in trying to implement a healthier lifestyle/ trying to lose weight, please feel free to post any websites, books articles or videos that have helped you in your journey. Let's help each other out! J
Within the next week, I'll post another update on my family's progress towards healthy living and list the weekly menu I'm using; with the changes I've made to fit our family. If you're joining me in trying to implement a healthier lifestyle and/or trying to lose weight, please feel free to post any websites, blogs, books, articles or videos that have helped you with changes in eating and food. Let's help each other out! J

Monday, June 18, 2012

A New Season of Life, part 2: The Dreaded “E” Word

Last week, I revealed my decision to become healthier. The biggest challenge I deal with being healthy (and losing saggy boobs in areas where boobs don't belong…) would be getting and staying physically active. In other words…the dreaded "E" word. Don't you DARE say it, or else I will make you wash out your mouth with chocolate!!

Well, this past week has been a…interesting test run on keeping a mindset to stay active. I kept telling myself, if I can do it at least 3 times this week, I'll be as happy as a clam. I was all giddy about my bike purchase. I couldn't wait to try it out, feel the wind in my Ronald McDonald 'fro, and zoom past my jaw-dropped kids who, when they finally closed their mouths, mumbled to each other, "Wow, I didn't know Mama could ride like THAT!"

Guess what? I forgot one little thing…I have not stepped my wide behind on a bike in over ten years. I mean, I didn't totally forget it. It was looming in the back of my head, but not in the way realistic people think about it. It was more like, "Oh, I haven't ridden a bike in ten years…but, you know what they say, once you learn, you never forget!" That was pretty much the extent of my thinking. I was afraid of forgetting how to ride it. More importantly, since having children, I have become a bit more of a klutz in the balance department.

I didn't think about the pain. Who does when they dream up crazy notions as I often do? That's like thinking about sleep before signing up for online college, knowing the only time you'll be able to do it is when the kids are asleep. And forgetting your best thinking occurs when you're in a half-asleep state. This occurs between the hours of 12-3 in the morning.
Now you know why...
Think about pain? Uh…no. I'm still trying to remember to call all my kids by their proper name, who has time to think about pain? Well, regardless of my lack of thinking, the pain still arrived. No warning, no invitation from my body. It crept slowly alongside my bike halfway through the first day. Despite no invitation from me, Pain is rather polite. It gives you a warning (in the form of a slight burning sensation) in your muscles/fat reserves a few minutes or even up to a day before it decides to hit your body full force. My thunder thighs/wide behind certainly felt something going on that first day. But I was determined…I had a spiffy new bike! I used to LOVE to ride! I could totally rock this. The kids and I rode almost four miles that day. Once we neared the house, the Pain decided to hit me full force. It was not a pretty picture. We all had scratches on our legs. I'm almost certain we walked our bikes more than we actually rode them. One of the kids was crying. I was holding back tears. We were all sweating more than I thought humans could possibly sweat. The air conditioning could not cool us down fast enough. We could not stop drinking water. My ass HURT. I could not sit on anything that didn't have a cushion for three days without shifting and gritting my teeth in pain. If there is such a thing as hell on earth, this must surely be it- riding a bike after ten years, and not expecting to get hurt. Go ahead, laugh at my foolishness. I laughed…after the second day. My kids certainly got a good chuckle after seeing me attempt to plop down on one of the dinning room chairs only to scream like a little girl once my bum hit the(wooden, non-cushioned) seat. Not that they got that from me or anything. They didn't.

After hearing the kids whine and complain that day, I thought, maybe I made a mistake. Maybe I shouldn't have bought the bike. Maybe I expected too much from them. What if we can't keep doing this all summer…what if we can't do this one more time this week? What if they want to call it quits after such a horrible first day?
The next day (Tuesday), I decided to not bike. I could not sit on my bike without shedding tears. I felt I should be moving in some form, though. I didn't want to give myself a rest just yet. So, I woke up early, drank some coffee, and put on "The Biggest Loser: Weight Loss Yoga". If you don't think you'd like yoga, I suggest you hunt down this DVD at your local library. I did Yoga back in my late teens, and this is totally not the same.
This has been my idea of yoga for the past two years
 I won't go into details but I will say that it makes me sweat regardless of the temperature. Normal Yoga does not do that for me. Halfway through the DVD, I thought, I can't do this, I have to stop. Just as I was getting ready to hit the EJECT button, who comes out but my youngest daughter. She saw what was on the television, and with big, anime-type eyes, she asked, "Can I do it, too, Mama?"
"Can we Mama? Huh? Can we?"
Who can say no to that? So, despite my sweat and slightly sore muscles, I agreed. We finished the DVD together. As we both laid on the floor in deep relaxation, I couldn't help but thank God for my youngest and her waking up at the moment she did. That day, I asked the kids if they wanted to quit riding. To my surprise, they quickly said, "NO!" and said they couldn't wait to ride their bikes again. My, what a difference 24 hours makes!

Wednesday, the kids and I *gently* hit the bikes again. After getting a suggestion from a friend, and using an idea I said jokingly to my neighbor, I felt much more comfortable riding my bike that day. We rode to the park, and rode back home (about a mile total). The next day, we went on a field trip (which required a lot of walking…and also a lot of free food, so it canceled out all the walking.). Friday we biked the almost four miles again. My son also managed to get a hole in his tire this day, so once again we biked half way, and he and I walked the remaining way. I worried about this, because I was not sure how much it would cost to fix and when I would have the money needed to get it fixed. I prayed for some way to come up with the money needed. Saturday we stayed home and cleaned/re-arranged my living room (if you don't think this counts as a workout, then clearly, you have never seen my house!). Today, I thought we were going to walk back home from church, but a family from church decided to surprise my son with a new tire for his bike, complete with installation(and transportation home). Talk about a blessing! Thank you, God!

So, what I have learned this week? First off, I am no spring chicken. I can't just jump into physical activity, even with the best of intentions, and not expect pain. Second, I have to start taking a bit more seriously what I put in my mouth. Third, despite the pain and slight complaining, I really did enjoy biking this week. I even felt the urge to do it on a resting day, but I resisted the urge. I don't want to keep pushing myself until I'm exhausted and end up hating it.
What about you? Have you started to add small bits of physical activity in your routine? What form of exercise is your favorite? Why? Don't feel shy-share!
Until next time…