Friday, October 17, 2014

Sewing Retreat 2014

I just got back from my annual weekend sewing retreat in the mountains and we had such a good time!  It is really a blessing to me to get away from home and just focus on something I enjoy doing.  I love, love, love to 'create' but I'm generally just too tired to think clearly enough to do that at night when all the cares of the day have been taken care of so it is really a treat each year when my sweet husband takes over for 3 days and lets me go to the retreat.

This year I honestly did not prepare very well in advance.  We moved only two months ago and I am still trying to get my craft stuff organized so I just had not had the time to plan out my projects.  Last year I had a plan and all my patterns ready and fabric cut out.  This year I had hardly anything planned so I was not as productive as I would have liked to have been but I still got quite a bit done.

I made a set of 6 fall themed cloth napkins, a twirl skirt in Abby Cadabby material for Olivia, 3 mug rugs, 2 coasters and a kitchen towel.















Tuesday, September 30, 2014

How I Saved Today

The Money Saving Mom has been posting lately on a specific way she has saved money. I really love the simplicity of these posts like this one, for example, about baking homemade cookies. When I read a post like this it helps me see that saving money can be in the simple things and does not have to be some huge undertaking. So, I present how I saved today......zest and juice from a bag of limes purchased at Aldi for 99 cents going into my freezer for future use!




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Friday, August 29, 2014

It's A Wrap!

For the last couple months I've been periodically answering questions, providing clarifications and sending various pictures of myself to a number of writers and editors with HEALTH and All You magazines.  I previously mentioned the possibility of being included in a prediabetes magazine article here.   It got a little crazy trying to answer questions and provide pictures in the midst of moving especially since our nice camera still has not surfaced in the unpacking process.  Fortunately, I was able to stay in good communication with them and I am thrilled to report that I have been told "it's a wrap"!  I believe it is slated for the November edition of All You but if I hear differently I will let you know!

To be completely honest, I feel kind of weird about the whole thing because I have been way off my usual eating plan throughout the whole packing, moving and unpacking process which is still ongoing.  I try to remind myself though that the article is completely true in regards to my diagnosis, my reactions and the 30 lbs I have lost so far.  Once I am really settled I will be getting back to my plan as usual and in fact I have already been doing some reading and research and have plans for tweaking it.

Everyone has bumps in the road of life and those bumps do affect lifestyle changes we have made or are making.  I suppose there are folks who stay on their eating and/or exercise plan, whatever it may be, 100% of the time throughout any life changes but realistically I can't fathom that is a high percentage.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

We Moved!

I've been absent again but this time it has been with good reason!  Since early June every minute of my spare time has been consumed with finding a new house, dealing with the contract on the new house and now moving into the new house.  We are still very much in the midst of the chaos that is unpacking in a new home while trying to get our old home ready for market but we have officially moved!  At some point I will be blogging about the move - the why - and of course, hoping to post pictures as we settle in and eventually decorate/redecorate but for now I'm continuing to unpack, organize and well, pass out from exhaustion every night.  On top of our own move we are also overseeing the renovation of my mother-in-law's home which is located in the area we now live.  She has been away from her home, living with my sister-in-law, for the last two years and there has been no success with selling her home.  So, it is now being gutted and completely updated with hopes of a quick sell by end of year.  We are on week 2 of the renovation and while we are not doing the work, we are making frequent visits to the house to see the progress, answering questions, making decisions and relaying the progress to my sister-in-law so it is rather time consuming as well.  We have finally moved everything out of our own old home and hope to get it on the market within a week.  We need lots of prayers for a quick sell there as well.  Our new mortgage will begin in October and well, no one really wants to pay two mortgages for long!  So, stay tuned for more updates on our new home as it evolves!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Progress Pics and Super Cool Opportunity

One of my favorite food bloggers, Carolyn Ketchum, posted on Facebook that HEALTH magazine was looking for female prediabetics to interview. I submitted my contact information and was surprised to immediately hear from them. I completed an interview and was then asked for before and after pictures. I have taken all my progress pictures myself with my iPad so they are mostly faceless shots. The magazine needed pictures with my face so I had to dig around for before pics and have Mark take afters for me with no time to fix myself up. If my story is included I will be yet another statistic of women featured in magazines with awful pictures! At any rate I thought I'd share the first collage I put together for them without my face. Personally, I think these are better than what I ended up submitting at the end.




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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Finally!

It took losing 30 pounds but I can finally get my engagement ring back on my finger!  I have not worn it since I was around 8 months pregnant, which was over 4 years ago!


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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Good Morning!

Just thought I'd share a picture of my breakfast since it is so very lovely!


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Friday, June 20, 2014

Health Update

I haven't mentioned anything specific about my health in a couple months so it's a good time for an update.  While I enjoy viewing blogs that are focused on weight loss with numbers and charts and all that, I really intend for this blog to capture more than just that aspect of my life so I'm trying to keep my posts balanced.  If you ever have any questions though, please feel free to ask.

So, drum roll, as of right now I've lost just over 25 pounds!! The last two months have been much slower than the first month.  I have not been as strict.  As I mentioned in this previous post, I knew May was going to be a very busy food-centric month and I was totally right.  I only lost 2 pounds in the month of May!  I was pretty devastated by that but upon checking my measurements I saw that I was still losing inches so all was not lost.  June has been slightly better but still slow going.  I have let the bad carbs back in too many times and once they are in, it's like they need to bring all their friends.  Once I go off plan it can take me 3 days to get completely back on due to my sugar cravings being triggered.  I would say on average I am on plan about half of the week and off about half of the week.  And, when I say off plan I do not necessarily mean the entire day is off, it might just be one meal or snacking after dinner that is not on plan.  Being off plan so much just means I am losing a lot slower than I could be but I am learning this is a marathon, not a sprint, so as long as I keep trying and do not just give up, as I have been prone to in the past, I am fine with it.

In terms of measurements, I have lost the following inches:

  • chest 2"
  • bra band 2.5"
  • waist 4"
  • hips 2.5"
  • thighs 2" on one side, 1" on the other (lol!)


I take measurements at the start of each month so these are from June 1. I'm not sure July will be any different as I haven't noticed as much body shape changes this month but we'll see!

I still have such a long way to go but I'm making progress and feeling much better overall.  I can't say I'm full of energy but I feel better mentally (about myself) and I can tell when I am just in everyday life that I have lost weight.  My knees do not yet love stairs but they no longer cause pain either and I am able to walk for about 30 minutes at the YMCA track which is a big improvement.

And I almost forgot the best news of all - my fasting glucose at home has gone from pretty regularly being between 115-125 to now being almost spot on 105 everyday.  I have even seen it in the 90s a few times.  My meter runs a tad high so I believe this means my fasting glucose is actually <100 which is normal.  I still see spikes when I eat too many carbs so it's not as if I am "cured" (in fact once you are insulin resistant you don't undo that really, you just are able to control it with diet) but I definitely think losing some weight has improved my insulin response or my body's ability to use the insulin I produce. Happy, happy, happy!


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Low Carb Living

Thought I'd just share some pictures of meals I've made since I've been missing.....

This is my almost daily breakfast - eggs scrambled in grass fed butter with cheese and bulletproof coffee (my version is my Dunkin Donuts coffee blended with a splash of heavy whipping cream, 1-2 tsp of grass fed butter and sweetener).  If you are wondering about the coffee, I think this is an informative blog post about the benefits.  For me, it is really tasty this way and filling.

On fairly rare occasion I do deviate from my usual breakfast of eggs. I made these really tasty Breakfast Sausage Pinwheels from the blog Up Late Anyway.

These were two attempts at grain free pizza. We mostly liked the one on the left better because it handled more like a regular thin crust pizza.  It is from the Fathead movie blog and can be found here.  The one on the right actually had more flavor and was cheesier but the crust was too mushy for our taste, it was not like a regular pizza.  It can be found here.

Garlic butter shrimp (just followed the recipe on the container of garlic seasoning) with a creamy cheesy cauli-rice.  This was my third and best cauli-rice attempt and I totally winged it.  I added Parmesan cheese and heavy whipping cream and it came out almost risotto-ish.

Peanut Butter Chia Energy Bars from the blog All Day I Dream About Food. These were one of the best "snacks" I've made since changing my way of eating but they were a little too good.  I could not control myself at all so I had to put them in the freezer and once they were in there they taste horrible.  Something happens with erythritol when it freezes that causes the cooling effect to exponentially increase.

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Saturday, June 14, 2014

MIA

Well, I did it again.....started a blog and abandoned it!  It happens to me alot.  I start so many things with good intentions but the busyness of life often gets in the way.  In this case it was more of two sinus infections, vacation, food poisoning and then general busyness but either way, I've been MIA for a month!!

I have been cooking up alot of new recipes and I really should post an update on my weight loss so I have some things in the proverbial hopper.  Stay tuned!!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Bitty Baby's First Jumper

Olivia has been asking me to make clothes for Bitty Baby for a while now. I hardly have time to sew anymore but I knew it would mean alot to her so today I bought the McCall's 4338 pattern while we were at Hobby Lobby.



After she went to bed I holed up in the sewing room desperately trying to understand the pattern. I detest old fashioned patterns because I was never formally trained in sewing. I have a hard time understanding what to do when I look at them whereas the .pdf patterns available online contain lots of photos and are easier to understand. But I stuck it out and read and re-read til I felt comfortable cutting out the pieces and proceeding. Bitty Baby is styling in her pleated polka dotted dress!


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Friday, May 9, 2014

The Great Sugar Experiment

This past weekend we had a children's birthday party to attend. I have been testing my blood sugar regularly since changing my eating habits and have seen improvement but I had never tested it after a carb/sugar-filled meal. I was curious to see what would happen if I ate like I used to at the party. So, I had a couple slices pizza, ice cream and cake. I did skip the soda so it wasn't exactly how I used to eat but close enough. I knew all that sugar would blow my meter up and I didn't want the full impact of it so as soon as we got home I mowed our yard. Exercise is known to decrease blood sugar. If I had not mowed I'm sure it would have been significantly worse.

At 2 hours after starting a meal a normal person's glucose should be below 140 mg/dl. At the 2 hour mark mine was at 139 so I thought "hmm, not bad". But, I had a sneaky suspicion that my glucose might still be rising so an hour later I retested and got 169...whoa! That is a hallmark of insulin resistance....glucose that is not curbed by insulin at the 2 hour mark. The insulin is either insufficient to counter the glucose or it isn't working properly. By the 4 hour mark I was back to 139 again and it we can assume it continued decreasing. My fasting level was 129 the next morning, much higher than it usually is, so you can see that the effects of that meal were not limited to one evening. And that, my friends, is why decreasing carbs is so important for the insulin resistant!


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Monday, May 5, 2014

Food Prep Sunday {Meal Planning edition}

This weekend the only FOOD I prepped was browning a half pound of sausage for our daily omelets but I did do something related....meal planning.

Let me back up to share that I have struggled with meal planning since marrying 7 years ago. I can count on one hand the number of weeks I have had a meal plan in all that time. A few things I have done over time to improve on this issue include:

Reading lots of blogs and a couple eBooks on the topic
Pinning recipes daily to my very organized Pinterest boards
Subscribing to online meal planning services
(eMeals, Fresh 20, 5 Dinners 1 Hour and Plan To Eat to name a few)
Being an active member of a local freezer meal group for about 2 years

Despite these efforts it has been a struggle to actually commit to a set of meals, shop for those meals and follow through with the plan.

Lately though, the lack of planning is really becoming a burden. I am tired of starting dinner only to realize I'm missing a key ingredient or feeling stressed at 4 pm because I have no plan whatsoever and my day has been busier than I was expecting. Additionally, when you cut out rice, pasta, potatoes and corn it becomes exponentially harder to throw something together. Meal planning seems determined to weasel itself into my life and I think I'm ready to embrace it. I present this week's meal plan and some prep reminders so I can try to do my chopping the night before.


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Saturday, May 3, 2014

Chia Chia

Today I woke feeling very tired and not hungry. Tired happens everyday but not hungry? That's a new one. I used to skip breakfast with great regularity and wasn't bothered in the least but now I am very irritable if I do not eat breakfast. Once I started eating a filling breakfast daily I found I could no longer skip meals without serious side effects. I also think it is one of the keys to my weight loss but that is a blog for another day.

Anyhow, I wasn't hungry today for my usual eggs but I knew I needed to put something in my belly. I started looking around the kitchen and all I saw was Honey Nut Cheerios (my former breakfast staple when I did eat). I knew that would not do so I searched my Pinterest breakfast board and remembered Grain Free Hot Cereal. Luckily I had some frozen blueberries that I quickly thawed in the microwave. I can only eat about half of this because I'm not a huge fan of chia seeds but even half loads you up with fiber.


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Friday, May 2, 2014

Reflections On The Year and May

It's hard to believe it is already May.  This year is really flying.  It's been a year of change and maybe that is why it seems to be moving at such a rapid pace.  Two huge changes so far this year have been my husband starting a new job in March after a very surprising layoff in February and me changing my eating habits drastically in late March.  The first change was very stressful initially, especially the part where we lost health insurance, but now a few months later, it just seems like a blip on the radar of life.  There were quite a few blessings that came with the ending of the old job and the new job is really just now getting started so it's hard to say but so far it seems to be going pretty well.  

The second change has changed how often I grocery shop, what I buy, how much I cook (every single day), how much we spend on said groceries and of course, for my family, lots of new foods that they aren't as eager as I am to try and let's not even mention the amount of time I spend reading blogs or Pinterest looking for recipes.  This change has drastically affected how I spend my "free" (ha ha!) time as well.  I used to spend quite a bit of time at night and on weekends sewing.  I love sewing.  But now I am so tired I just do not have the energy to sew.  I used to eat cereal for breakfast and sandwiches for lunch so I really only cooked a full meal for dinner.  Now I cook at breakfast and dinner and sometimes lunch depending on whether there are leftovers.  Even if I don't cook at lunch I assure you I am chopping vegetables, grating cheese, something.  It is never just slapping the peanut butter and jelly on the bread anymore.  Additionally, I am also preparing food for my almost 4 year old and husband since he works from home.  So, three meals a day for three people.  I know there are moms of six who may come across this and roll their eyes but let's keep this in perspective, I am talking about the changes in my life, not how much less work I do than someone else.  So, honestly, I'm feeling a little tired and single minded.  

With all that being said, I am moving forward, full steam ahead with my new way of eating and whatever time it takes is what it takes.  I spent many many years letting my glucose get out of whack and eating junk all day and night so if this is my penance then so be it!

Wow, I got off tangent, didn't I?  Back to May....  This month there are lots of fun occasions - our 7th anniversary next week (hello Angus Barn!), Mother's Day, my birthday and a vacation the last week of the month in Williamsburg.  That also means lots of opportunities to overeat, eat off plan, gain weight, get frustrated, quit, etc.  Well, I refuse.  I have worked too hard to lose the weight I have lost so far so if setbacks happen, I'll just deal with it and get back on plan the next meal or next day.  There...it's in black and white.


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Day I Let Olivia Pick The Dessert....

I had decided last night that it was time for a treat this week. I was ready to make up a batch of my favorite wheat free, sugar free cookies!! Olivia wanted to help. When I pulled up my Pinterest board to get the recipe Olivia started yelling "no, let's do this one" pointing to a picture with lots of strawberries. We picked strawberries Saturday and have been eating them all week. She loves them!

I looked over the recipe for Strawberry Hand Pies on All Day I Dream About Food and saw that I had all the ingredients. I should have taken some time to read Carolyn's write up on her creation and the blog comments. Oh well....next time.

The dough that is created from gluten free ingredients is very fragile. I lost my cool more than once trying to make the dough and then again trying to cut it. In the end I had 6 very unattractive hand pies ready for the oven. Fortunately, they baked up just like Carolyn said they would and were incredibly tasty.






Edited to comment that I stored a few in a container and they were mushy the next day.  Not sure if the issue was how I stored them or just that they are meant to be consumed same day as they are baked.

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South Meets Far East

Last night for dinner I reheated some pulled pork I had made in the crockpot the day before and made two new sides, roasted okra and a crunchy napa cabbage asian slaw. 

I love fried okra and have been missing it since I have cut back on foods with breading. This roasted okra recipe was delicious and so easy! Honestly, I think I like this almost as good as my favorite fried okra at Cracker Barrel.  No one else in my family liked it so more for me! 


The slaw is also a new staple for me. I modified the recipe in that I did not have snap peas, radishes or green onions. I did shred some carrots into it as well as the cilantro. I used Swerve as my sugar substitute in the dressing.  I might have eaten almost the entire bowl. It was that good!  Again, my family wasn't as sold on this as I was so I think this will make an awesome lunch for me in the future, especially with chicken added.  One of the down sides to drastically changing your way of eating is that things that taste good to me now do not necessarily taste good to my husband.  My daughter is in the height of her picky eating at almost 4 years old!




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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Joy In The Midst

I have been on a journey for the past month to change my health.  Back in December I found out that my 7 years of being prediabetic were coming to a close and soon I would be leaping into the black hole of full blown diabetes.  I decided then that it was time to change.  I toyed around with cutting back on carbs but wasn't fully committed.  I saw some weight loss but soon I was discouraged because it was hard.  I went back to how I had been eating and gained back what I had lost.  In mid March I decided to try again and this time I fully committed by cold turkey giving up sugar sweetened beverages and treats, potatoes, rice, pasta and bread.  I started eating lower carb foods, mostly wheat free and sugar free, all day.  I began baking wheat free, sugar free treats again so that when I was tempted to snack I would have a suitable option.  I stopped eating out regularly.  I also started checking my blood sugar at home several times a day to see how different meals affected me.

The results of those changes have been great!  I have lost about 16 pounds, several inches off my waist, hips and chest and my cravings for junk have mostly subsided.  I also went back to the doctor for my 4 month recheck and my fasting glucose and Hemoglobin A1c were both improved.  My doctor was quite pleased and is letting me go 6 months before a recheck this time.

But now I am experiencing my first plateau.  The scale has been hovering around the same number for a week now and is actually inching up instead of down.  I feel so discouraged today and do not feel joy at all.  But, as I brewed my coffee this morning, mulling these feelings over, God reminded me of the Bible study I just finished up at church this past week - Choose Joy (Kay Warren).  One of the things I learned in that study is that there are false sources of joy.  Apparently, I've been finding some of my joy lately in the number on the scale.  Now quite honestly, considering that I have been halfheartedly trying to lose weight for several years without success, I don't think it is horrible that I've been joyous over the changes on the scale. However, now that it is not going in the direction I want it is affecting me negatively so I've gone too far.  In one of the videos Kay said that we can experience joy in the midst of trials, circumstances, etc.  Today I am reminded that I need to find my joy in Jesus even when the scale does not make me happy.  He is the only true source of joy!  The full title of the study is Choose Joy: Because Happiness Isn't Enough.  So true!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Food Prep Sunday

I found a blog recently called The Lean Green Bean.  One of the regular weekly features showcases different bloggers and the food they prep on Sunday to make their weeks go smoother.  Being that I am terrible with meal planning this fascinated me.  The author has a page with over 50 links to food prep posts and I think I looked at almost all of them.  I loved seeing the different pictures of the prepped foods.  I decided this was something I needed to incorporate into my week pronto!  

So, I present my first attempt at Food Prep Sunday!  I made 4 batches of my homemade spaghetti meat sauce.  I always make 3-4 batches at a time with ground beef we buy in bulk at Sam's Club.  We have spaghetti once a week on average so I'm done for the month after a session of prepping these.  Once made, these go in the freezer, are thawed overnight and then cooked in the crockpot for 5-7 hours on low.  All I have to do then is cook noodles, bake frozen bread (for the family) and grate cheese (this sauce is extra yummy with shredded cheddar).  I love crockpot spaghetti sauce day!  

I also cleaned and chopped a bunch of celery and prepped a homemade taco salad dressing.  I eat taco salad at least twice a week for lunch with leftover taco meat and this dressing is also a great raw veggie dip!  It's from the Pioneer Woman's blog and so easy - 1/4 cup each salsa, mayo and sour cream.  I recently discovered the joy of actually using my mason jars.  I have tons of them for all those "gift in a jar" ideas I have pinned....oh I digress.  Anyway, I have found that they take up less space than my usual food storage containers, enable me to spot my ingredients more easily and now are no longer clutter....win, win, win!

Today I followed up Food Prep Sunday with I Wasn't Done Last Night Monday (ha!) by putting a pork butt in the crockpot all day.  I used a 6 lb chunk-o-pig so hopefully there will be enough to freeze several baggies for quick meals another night.  This is my very first pork butt!  I followed a recipe from Everyday Paleo and it turned out yummy.  I also plan to make Cowboy Chili Stuffed Peppers from All Day I Dream About Food later this week so I prepped the recipe halfway to save time the night I make it.  Since I am making so much from scratch these days anything that can be made simpler, in advance or in the crockpot is music to my ears.







Welcome!

Thanks for stopping by my new blog.  I have had quite a few blogs over the last 4 years but they have all been focused on a specific topic.  I have had writer's block on my family blog for months now because the things I really wanted to write about were more about me and not my family.  For some reason that has kept me from feeling free to post more.  So, after much thought I decided to create yet another new blog for the random assortment of things that make up my life.  So, you can expect posts about my family, food, health goals, sewing, crafting, bible studies....whatever strikes my fancy!