Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Another Bento Style Lunch

I am having so much fun with these lunches! I went to school last week and had lunch with Samantha and my niece and nephew. All three had requested a bento lunch this week. I included turkey wraps made with while wheat tortillas, spinach leaves and swiss cheese with some extra pepper jack cheese cut into fall shapes, some cut up imitation crab sticks, "salad" made with broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, cucumber, mushrooms and sugar peas and a fruit cup of orange slices, raspberries, blackberries and grapes. It looks like a ton of food, and there is a lot of variety but the overall quantity isn't too much. 

I survived Thanksgiving! I wasn't watching what I ate too carefully, but I did notice that I didn't eat as much as I have in years past. Don't get me wrong, I was full and ate more than I eat on a daily basis, but in years past I would have probably eaten until I was almost to the point of misery. I did stop well before that point. I am watching what I eat most of the time but I am still planning to enjoy the holidays. 

I have been doing a little yoga lately. Not the full tape or a workout yet, mainly just some stretches. I have put on a few pounds that I have lost over the past couple of weeks, and I am working on taking that back off. I am not giving up though, I am liking the way I am feeling and I LOVE having more energy.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Grateful for my In-Laws

I have been truly blessed with some of the greatest in-laws in the entire world. I have heard absolute horror stories about mothers in law especially. My in-laws welcomed me into their lives the first time they met me and that has not changed in the five years I have been a part of their family. I do know how fortunate I am and I am grateful for them. It's had coming into a new family, but I have never been made feel awkward or unwelcome in their home. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Grateful for my job

Today I am thankful for my job, not only that I have one, but that I have one that I enjoy. Of course I would rather sit at home and amuse myself endlessly, but since I do need to work, I can't think of a better place. One thing that makes my job so great is the people that I get to work with every day. Another thing that is especially important to me is the fact that I am in a little office by myself. I can sit when I need to, stand up and walk around when I need to do that, this job cause me very little additional pain. That is a big deal to me. So today I am grateful for my job and my co-workers.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Frugal Laugh

At work today, I was in a meeting with a salesman and a co-worker. He had brought me a bunch of samples of some new packaging material and stuck them in the first thing he found to carry them in which was a five gallon bucket with a lid. He made a joke about the "fancy carrier" he brought them in and I said "oh I love it, it's perfect for making detergent in". Dead silence from both of them. Not only the silence, but they both looked at me like I was more than a little crazy. This is a salesman that I have worked with for a while and we have a similar sense of humor, and that is the first time I have seen him speechless. Finally he said "wow, that's country". I just laughed and said no, it was just cheap! I knew it was a lot cheaper to make than to buy, but I wasn't sure of the exact savings. I figure it costs me around .04 per load to make detergent and between .12 and .35 per load to use detergent that is already made. That extra money? It allows us to take more weekend trips through out the year. If you are interested in the recipe, let me know in the comment section and I will send it to you.

On the weight loss: I am still kind of stuck at about the same point. Not gaining, but not losing either. I had to go and buy an outfit for a wedding we attended this weekend and was able to buy a smaller size pants. That felt good. I am also having to wear a belt with most all of my jeans now. I hate wearing a belt, but am a little happy that I need to. We were out of town all weekend so that means I ate out a lot, but didn't do too terrible.

Friday, November 5, 2010


This is a project that I made for Shirley's 2 Girls' Thankful Blog Hop this week. In making this I was specifically thinking of the son of a friend of mine that recently graduated from Marine Boot Camp. Today I am grateful for those men and woman that choose to put on a uniform and to all that ones that have worn our country's colors in times past. Thinking again of my friends son, seeing him so proudly wearing that uniform brought a tear to my eye. I have know this little boy since he was about eight years old. First of all, it's hard to believe that he is even old enough to be wearing a uniform! It made me think of what all he chose to give up. For me, for you and for our country. So today I am grateful for all the young people like Gray that choose to protect our country and all the sacrifices that they make on a daily basis.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Grateful for My Grandmother

My grandmother passed away 10 years ago. On Halloween. She has been on my mind a lot lately. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to have that woman in my life as long as I did. It's funny looking back, but when I think of major life lessons that I have learned, many of those came from her. Not as preachy lessons, but by her example and they way that she lived her life. 

She was the most giving person that I have ever known. One time she had some furniture to sale that she advertised in the paper. A man called inquiring about the bed that was listed and said he wanted to purchase it sight unseen, because he needed a bed for his kids to sleep in. Well after he got there to pay, he explained some of his situation and my grandparents not only ended up giving him the bed, but also gave him some other furniture. Any TV preacher that sent her a letter got sent some money, not a lot, because they didn't have a lot, but they got something. I could recount many, many examples of her giving to others, but I won't right now. I thought she was a little naive and far too trusting. I asked her about it one day after I was an adult. I asked if she worried that she was being taken advantage of, that the people might not always use the money in the right way. She said there were probably times that people lied to get money or help from others. Bu she said that wasn't her problem, that if someone asked her for help and lied to her, they had to answer to God for that. But if she refused to help when she could and chose to be stingy, then she was the one that had to explain that to God. That lesson haunts me sometimes! Especially as I have grown older and a little more jaded. I want to be more giving like she was. And she gave with a open and caring heart, and believed in everyone until they proved themselves not trustworthy.

I just randomly decided to move to Nashville one day. Everyone wanted to know why and kept asking when I was moving back home. She never did. She let me know she missed me, but she never asked me to move back home. What did she ask me? She asked if I was happy and when I said I was she said "that's good".

I have always loved Halloween, as a child and as an adult. So did my Mamaw. She got such a kick out of seeing her grandkids and neighbors dressed up in their costumes. She would talk for weeks about this kid or that one and how cute they looked in their costume. When she died on Halloween day, it hurt so bad. I thought the joy had gone from Halloween forever. The joy was gone for a couple of years and replaced with sadness and missing her. Then I decided to pass out candy one year. The joy was back!! Instead of sadness, I felt a connection with her, every single time I opened the door and saw another kid in a cute costume. 

From my Mamaw, I also got my love of words, of books, pens and papers and of poems and stories. She used to save poems that she found to read to me and I would do the same. Some of my fondest memories of spending time with her was after I was an adult and I worked close to her house. If I had a break, I would call her and ask her to make me cornbread and there would be some frying as I walked through the door. Sometimes I would pick up french fries from her favorite restaurant and take them to her instead. We had some very good visits during those lunches. I still miss her terribly, but I am grateful for the years that she was in my life.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Being Grateful

Wow, it is already November. One thing that I have done each year around this time of year is to really reflect on my life over the previous year and to think of people that have strongly influenced my life that year. I want to make sure to always be grateful for the people that come into my life. I try and let these people know how I am feeling too. I would like to try and live my life in a way that if our paths cross that you can say your life may be a little better, a little brighter. Now, I don't always achieve that goal, but it is one that I set for myself many years ago. Kip and I were talking about that the other day too, how our actions and reactions can influence people around us. We are both making the effort to be kinder people; to each other, to our families and friends and to people that we only have fleeting contact with, servers in restaurants, clerks in stores. 

I know this is a blog about having a healthy lifestyle and being frugal, but I think all health begins with good mental health. One way to get there is to be aware of and grateful for the things that we have. So for the rest of the month and then randomly as I feel like it, I am going to be posting about things I am grateful for.

Today, I am grateful that I have the privilege to vote. We women have only had that privilege for 90 years, since 1920. I personally feel that if I shirk my duty to vote, it is a slap in the face to all the women that came before me that could not do so. A slap to women like Lucy Stone, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and so many others worked tirelessly for many years to help establish this right for me. I cannot imagine a time where I did not have that right because I would have been too frail, or too limited in my thinking to be able to vote. I hope I never take that right for granted. 

Saturday, October 30, 2010

My Bento Box Lunch

Well this was my first attempt at making bento boxes for lunch. I went on a field trip with Samantha and packed us both one. She has been looking at different websites and You Tube videos with me so she was very excited about having lunch this way. I had told her that was what I would be bringing her, but did not tell her what would be in there. I think, jusdging by her reaction, she was happy with the results!

It looks like a ton of food, and there is a lot of variety, but not a lot of each item. I started out with homemade sushi and threw in a few extra shrimp and the remainder of a crab stick that was in the sushi. There is a salad with broccoli, mushrooms, carrot sticks and cherry tomatoes. A couple of pieces of pepperjack cheese cut into Halloween shapes and and a fruit cup with raspberries, blueberries, kiwi and a piece of starfruit. And after running around a farm for a couple of house, she was really ready for her lunch and ate most of it. It was also nice having no trash to throw away, except the drink container.

I had considered looking for and buying actual bento boxes, but found these locking containers at Wal-Mart in two different sizes. I am happy with them , the price was much better that special ordering from the internet and they worked out very well.

On the weight loss front: I am kind of stuck. I haven't gained, but I am not loosing right now. I know I have been eating out too much and that is definitely a pitfall for me. I also haven't been exercising very much either, other than trying to get as many extra steps in every day as I can. Since we moved the furniture around downstairs, the treadmill hasn't really been useable, but I am hoping to remedy that by the end of the weekend. 

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Choosing to Change

I had kind of gotten away for my healthy eating plan for a few weeks but am doing better now. I had lost 30 lbs, but then I gained back 5 so I am at 25 lbs now. There have been a few hurdles to overcome but I am hoping that they are getting worked out so that I can keep going. One problem I have had is that a new medication that I am taking has a side effect of making you crave sweets. which is weird for me because my weaknesses tend to be salty things or more savory. Give me chips and a good dip any day over sweets. Until I started taking this medicine. It's like if I don't have something sweet every day, it is all I can think about. So I have been looking for alternatives to  satisfy that without totally blowing my healthy eating plan. Low fat puddings work or making my own trail mix with some nuts, dried cranberries and a few chocolate chips seem to work too. 
Another issue has been the fact that the treadmill got moved and kind of blocked. That will be fixed this weekend. Since I am doing this to get healthy and not just lose weight, I know that I need the exercise. I feel better when I do and the weight comes off easier and faster too. I am still choosing to change what I put in my body and I do feel better.

One thing that has changed is my lunches. Since I have been struggling with high blood pressure issues, I have really been watching my intake of sodium. I used to eat either canned soups or frozen low calorie meals for lunch several times a week and I have stopped that. I also have this weird thing for soup for breakfast in the morning. Just a couple of kinds but we jokingly call those "breakfast soups". I have been making a little extra for dinner or making sure that I have other options that I have cooked or can quickly prepare for lunch. My blood pressure is finally staying in the range it should be.

I am still trying to process the new knowledge that I have gained about my pain issues. I have tried to describe it to Kip and just couldn't get it out how important of a change in my way of thinking this it and how it is a total game changer. The only comparison that I could come up with was Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus. I am talking life changing knowledge. 

And I have a choice here too. I can choose to change my way of thinking or I can continue to believe what is a lie. It's my choice, one that only I can make, but one that has potential to set the tone for the rest of my life. I have always thought I was weak because I had a weakness due to my pain issues. No one made me feel that way but me. I am trying to come to terms with the fact that just because I have a weakness, that the weakness does not have to define me as a weak person. Strong people can have weaknesses. It is what you choose to believe about yourself that decides if you can gain strength through your weakness. Like I said, this is a life changing piece of information for me. More on that later as I process it more.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Bento Boxes and other thoughts re:my invisible illness

One thing about me and healthy eating is that I have a hard time following any eating plan that has me eating the same things over and over and over again. Nothing will make me deviate from healthy eating quicker. I like a lot of variety not only in the foods that I eat, but also the foods that I cook and prepare. Like I can eat salad all the time, but it can't always be the same salad. Right now my favorite toppings are a little gorgonzola cheese, dried cranberries and a small amount of either pecans or walnuts. 

Well I was bored last night and just googled "healthy packed lunches" and one link lead to another and then another so soon I found several references to the bento box of lunches. Wow, what interesting reading. Basically a bento lunch uses small portions of a variety of foods to make a healthy portable lunch, usually arranged in an appealing way. I found several sites that were written by moms of young kids that said it was a great way to use up leftovers and since they were small portions and a lot of finger foods they were a hit with their kids too. That solved two problems I have--using the leftovers and offering a variety. Want more info? Google "bento lunches" to get tons of ideas.

Last week was "Invisible Illness Awareness Week" and I posted a couple of things about my own personal struggle with this. I have reposted them below if you are interested in reading them. Kip and I were talking about it after he read it and he had some interesting points to bring up. I am usually not that open about my pain levels (okay, normally I flat out lie about it) so opening up about this was something I don't normally do. Since Kip lives his life with me of course he sees more than anyone else will and I am pretty honest with him about my pain levels. He knows me well enough to know when I am lying anyway so there is no real point in pretending with him. His main point was that since I was being open on my blog, he didn't think I was descriptive enough about the pain. Interesting. 

I have always had difficulty describing my pain, finding the words to use to make someone understand. Especially people that do not experience pain in a chronic way. I keep up to date with scoliosis happenings and am a part of an online group of people like me that have had complications from our scoliosis and the related surgeries. But I had always limited my research to the area of scoliosis. I know some other people with scoliosis too. But for the most part I have felt like a freak**, even in that world that I unfortunately belong to. Recently though, I started looking outside that world and into the world of chronic pain. Finally I have found a world where I am not a freak. I hate that there are so many of us, but oh to find people that understand! People that experience what I experience. The root of our pain is different. How it manifests itself is different. But we understand each other in a way that no one else can. 

I remember reading a poem when I was younger about a man that went to the country of his birth to look for a connection and he felt alone. He went to a church with people that worshiped his God the way that he worshiped, but he was still alone. He went out into the rain and was offered the shelter of an umbrella from a stranger and in the kind eyes of that stranger he finally felt that connection with another human that his heart was crying out for. That's how I feel. People all around me care for me and I know that and we are connected, some very deep connections and others that aren't as deep, but I know I am loved by many people. Finding people though that understand how my pain effects every part of me has been freeing in some way. I don't really have to explain because they just know. 

**I use the word freak just to mean someone that stands outside the circle, that doesn't quite fit in or can be understood. That is something that Kip and I had to work out recently. I didn't mean it like a side show or Quasimodo or anything. Just someone that's different. 


Another post from my other blog.

I just want to say thank you for the comments and the emails that I have received since my last post here. It still amazes me that I have made so many friends through blogging, people that I may never have the pleasure of meeting in person, but people that have touched my life in a positive way. 

I was talking to my husband today and telling him about this post and the emails I had received. I have always seen my pain issue and my back problems as a weakness. And I was ashamed of my weakness so I have tried to hide it because I didn't want to be seen as weak. It was strange (but in a nice way), that every one commented on my strength in dealing with it. Kip said the same thing, that because of what I have gone through, he sees me as a strong person and not weak at all. And it seems that others do too and that I am the only one that sees myself as weak. Wow, I need to think on that some more. Thanks again for encouraging me, your words mean more than you could possibly know.

30 Things you might want to know about my invisible illness

I decided to repost this from my other blog. Not sure why I posted it over there and not here to begin with.

This is going to be a very different type of post for me, more personal than I normally am with anyone, especially opening myself up on blog land like I am doing. I felt compelled to write this post after reading two Facebook posts this morning from friends of mine. Both of these people were friends at one time, but we grew up and I moved away and we have reconnected through Facebook. One post included this notice about invisible illness week. Who new such a thing existed? The friend that posted this is a fellow chronic pain sufferer and has posted some valuable resources that have benefited me lately. And until I saw her posts about chronic pain, didn't know she suffered from. The other was a post by someone that I know to be a beautiful person that would probably never intentionally hurt anyone with her words or actions. But in her post she was lamenting the fact that due to Obama's Heath care plan that it would be messing with her life. She works and pays for insurance and posted that she and other full time workers would be paying for medical care for people that don't want to get a job with insurance. I don't know how I feel about the health care plan, and do not want to debate that or any other politics on this blog. I do however want to stand up and be counted and perhaps give another face to that argument.

I am one of the people that this legislation could potentially help if it is administered correctly. My husband is self employed and works far more than the standard 40 hours a week. We do not have health insurance. I have a preexisting condition. I do not work full time because I am not able so I do not qualify for insurance through my work. Once again, I do not want to debate the merits of the health care reform I just want to let you know there are many many of us with illnesses you can not see.

I have struggled with back issues since I was six years old. Only recently have I opened my search outside of my scoliosis diagnosis and started learning more about chronic pain. There are thousands and thousands of us. I have found a voice and a place where I am not a freak, a place where I am understood.

I am fortunate enough to have a husband that is pretty intuitive to my pain levels. He will offer to go and get the car if I have walked too far, and not make me ask. He can read my walk and tell how bad the pain is, even though I will lie and say it's not as bad as it is. We are still working out the kinks but he tries and most of the time gets it right. But as great as he is, he does not understand because he does not suffer. He tries and I appreciate it, but it's nice to have found others.

So here goes with things you might not know about me. My hope in writing this is that maybe the people that read this will not be so quick to judge people and just think we don't want to work or that we are lazy or that we are exaggerating.

1. The illness I live with: Chronic pain due to scoliosis and failed fusions (yes, that's plural, multiple failures).

2. I was diagnosed with it in the year: 1976

3. But I had limitations/symptoms since: I was in a brace by 1977 and started facing limitations since then. Pain really shifted into a chronic state in I would say 1985 or so. I used to have more good days where the pain wouldn't be so bad, but not as many now. And no days where the pain isn't present at all.

4. The biggest adjustment I have had to make is: admitting that I can't do everything everyone else can. Also having to ask for help. Since my earliest memories or trying to prove that yes I can do everything that all the other kids were doing, I have tried to do it all on my own. Admitting that I can't after trying so hard to prove I could has been a difficult adjustment.

5. Most people assume: they know how I feel because their backs hurt too. Or the other extreme is they feel bad saying they hurt their back because they know some of my issues. Yes they are different pains, but you can tell me you hurt too. I am an understanding ear!

6. The hardest part about mornings: is just getting moving and walking. I am so stiff when I wake up, it takes me a while and a lot of hot water to get to the point that I can bend over to put my socks on.

7. My favorite medical TV show: don't have one.

8. A gadget I couldn't live without: my computer. Online, I can blog and read and be just like everyone else. Wish I had a lap top though so that I could lay in bed or on the couch if I needed to. I am a craft related blogger, so there are no limitations in this world.

9. The hardest parts about night are: just trying to find a position to lay in that does not hurt. And to be able to stay in the position long enough to go to sleep and get a good nights rest. I toss and turn so much trying to stay comfortable that I often wake up tired.

10. Each day I take __ pills and vitamins (no comments please) 5-8 depending on pain level

11. Regarding alternative treatments: I am open to them but sometimes get tired of hearing about your amazing chiropractor that helped you after your wreck, or the magic pill that cures it all. My doctor recently asked if I would be willing to try some more nontraditional treatments and I told him that at this point I would be willing to try dancing naked in the moonlight while rubbing frog juice on my body if it would help. But no, your chiropractor can't adjust me and make me better, and no, I don't really need his number.

12. If I had to choose between an invisible illness or a visible one: I would take the visible one. when people can see the cause of your pain they know your aren't exaggerating or just trying to get out of doing something.

13. Regarding work and career: I have a job now that is flexible enough that I can do it without causing myself more pain. When I worked full time, I came home in tears most days. Now I can sit when I need to sit, stand when I need to do that, walk around if I need to and I don't have to bend, turn or lift. But working a full eight hour day is just not possible.

14. People would be surprised to know: that the pain never goes away, sometimes it is worse than others, but it just never goes away. It is so exhausting fighting the pain all the time. That sometimes it is all I can do not to cry. Bending over hurts.

15. The hardest thing to except about my new reality: honestly for me, it is just admitting how much it limits me. Of how many things I miss out on because I say "I don't want to" because it kills me to admit "I can't" because I am either feeling too bad already or that I know it will push me over the edge.

16. Something that I never thought I could do with my illness but did: A few weeks ago I walked through an entire mall with my husband. AN ENTIRE MALL and I did not use my cane, I did not have a shopping cart to hang on to and he did not have to bring the car to where I was. I walked the entire mall. I cannot remember the last time I did that without a cane.

17. the commercials about my illness: there are no commercials about my illness.

18. Something I really miss doing since I was diagnosed: More active things, I used to hike more, roller blade, and bowl before the pain progressed. I also miss accepting invitation to people's houses, especially cookouts without having to obsess about what kind of furniture they have and praying that I will be able to find a comfortable seat to sit in. Usually you can find me in the kitchen, those chairs are usually hard and straight. Outdoor furniture is pure torture.

19. It was really hard to give up: control. My pain dictates what I can or can't do most days. It's not what I want to do, it's always what I can do. It's hard to make plans too far in the future.

20. A new hobby I have taken up since my diagnosis: stamping, card-making and blogging about my craft related hobbies.

21. If I could have one day of feeling normal again I would: Not stop! I would go hiking somewhere beautiful, take pictures, go shopping, I would just keep moving.

22. My illness has taught me: Patience. Understanding of the pain others might have. Not to judge that person that looks perfectly healthy that parks in the handicap space. Not all pains can been seen.

23. Want to know a secret? One thing that people say that gets under my skin: I feel so sorry for you. Don't pity me. You can say I am sorry you are dealing with that, but don't pity me please, don't say you feel sorry for me. Pity makes me angry and makes me more determined to prove I can, even if I hurt myself to do it. If I know you pity me I will never be honest with you regarding my pain, never.

24. But I love it when people: will let me change the subject when I don't want to talk about my pain. I appreciate your concern, really I do, but sometimes it's all I can do not to lay down and cry and when you notice I am trying to focus on something else and you go with me to another topic, I really appreciate that. I like it when people notice that I am struggling and they offer to help so that I don't have to ask all the time and when they do that without making a big deal about it.

25. My favorite motto, scripture or quote that gets me through tough times is: It's one that I recently read. I do have body image issues so this means a lot. "In nature nothing is perfect and everything is perfect. Trees can be contorted, bent in weird ways and they are still beautiful." Alice Walker

26. When someone is diagnosed I'd like to tell them: Don't search the internet until you have really talked to your doctor, because the first things you find are going to be the worst and you might scare yourself unnecessarily! Make sure you have a doctor that will talk to you and not at you.

27. Something that has surprised me living with an illness: That there are so many people that suffer with chronic pain. That I may not be able to do everything but there is still tons I can do.

28. The nicest thing that someone did for me when I wasn't feeling well was: just let me cry. Sometimes the tears just need to come out. One time shortly after we were married, my husband cooked dinner for me.He let me sit on the couch and cry and he made food that I could eat laying down without spilling (pizza) and brought me my drink with a bendy straw so I could even drink without sitting up. All that without making me feel bad about myself. He also slows down when he is driving and its bumpy or we go over railroad tracks. Its the little things that mean the most.

29. I am involved with Invisible Illness Week because: I want others to know what the face of an invisible illness looks like.

30. The fact that you read this list makes me feel: a little less lonely because I am not hiding any more.

I would like recommend a book I read recently. It is good for anyone that suffers from chronic pain, anyone that loves someone that suffers from it or if you are in the medical field and work with chronic pain patients. The name of the book is "The Language of Pain" and was written by David Biro, MD. Excellent book and so liberating to know I was not alone in the silence of my pain.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


I have not been blogging much at all this summer. It's been a rough one for many reasons. Things have settled some and I wanted to post an update on my weight loss. I am happy to report that I have been eating much healthier over the summer. I have been really trying to watch what I eat, making sure that a eat a variety of foods that include a lot of fruits and veggies. My total weight loss is 28lbs so far. I seem to have reached a small plateau and that's okay. The weight loss is staying off and I am maintaining. I can tell a big difference in my clothes and it was so nice to get rid some of the pants and shorts that were just too big. Actually, that felt pretty great, I loved that. I haven't been exercising as much as I was and I think that is one of the reasons the weight loss has slowed too. In moving things in the house, the treadmill got unplugged and moved and is slightly blocked. My plan for the weekend is to remedy that situation. I hope to be back with regular updates in the coming weeks.

One thing I have really been trying to watch is my sodium intake. My blood pressure is doing much better with medication but I am still watching how much sodium I take in. I have been eating very little processed food and trying to make almost everything that I can from scratch, that way I know what it in the food I am eating.

I am promoting this awareness on all my blogs, emails and Facebook posts this week. If you would like to read more about my struggle with an invisible illness you can click HERE.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Monday Weigh In

I am so excited to post that I lost 4 lbs. last week! That brings my total to 13.8 lbs. I am still watching what I eat and counting calories. I also started walking this week. The whole planning our means and prepping is getting much easier. I have started getting into a little routine with it and it is so much easier that when we were doing it before. 

Friday, June 4, 2010

Craft Night Dilemma

Tonight is our monthly Craft Night at church. Of course we have fun being crafty and visiting, but we also snack through out the evening. Yummy dips and chips, chocolate in many forms, sods, you know all the good stuff! I decided to make things that would help me make good decisions while I am there and not tempt me too much. I love dips of all kids and I love them dearly. Nothing tempts me more than fried chicken or some kind of dip. So I replaced my spinach dip with homemade hummus and fresh vegetables for dipping. The gooey chocolate and other sweets were replaced with strawberries lightly dipped in chocolate and some grapes. That cheese ball looking thing isn't the healthiest thing in the world, but it was made with fat free cream cheese, half the pecans and all white chicken breast. And here is what it looked like:

I might still have a small sampling of what some of the other ladies bring, but I did plan ahead so that most of what I eat would be healthy choices. I am learning that this lifestyle does require planning, but by doing that planning, I have found it very easy to stick to. 

And for any of my friends that read this blog, yes that is celery on that platter! Anyone that remotely knows me knows that I absolutely detest celery in every way. I don't like the way it smells, I don't like the way it sounds when people eat it, I don't like the way it tastes. Basically celery is an affront to all of my senses! I bought precut carrots and they didn't have any without celery, that's why is is there, but I know some people do like it so it is there.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Planning Tool

I have mentioned before that I find it so much easier to follow a healthy eating lifestyle if I take the time to plan my meals on a weekly basis. This is one of the tools I use. It is a dry erase board that has a large space and is labeled for each day of the week. I make a rough menu on paper in a spiral notebook and then transfer breakfast, lunches and snacks to this board. Sometimes I add dinner on there too. but since I normally have dinner started or done when Kip gets home, I don't always do that. I prepare almost all of our food and so this keeps Kip in the look about when he is supposed to eat the foods I planned. It also helps me as I am getting ready in the mornings because I can simply look at the list, grab what we are supposed to have and go. It also helps with the finances. Since everything is planned, I am not going through the grocery store grabbing random food, I do get too much produce and the part of it goes bad, and we aren't tempted to go out "because there is nothing for dinner". We do still eat out on occasion, but it is planned too and not just random or more convenient. This system works the best for us.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Weekly Weigh In

I am a day late this week because we were out of town until late last night and I didn't have a chance to weigh until this morning. I am happy to report that I lost 2.2 lbs. this week. That gives me a total of 9.8 lbs since starting. I am extremely happy with that number since we have been out of town for the past two weekends. We spend yesterday in Gatlinburg and there  are just so many tempting foods there. I have to thank Kip for helping me stick with it too. I think if he hadn't been strong I would have given into too much temptation. We did have a few treats, but I think we really kept them in check.

I did pack some food for us. Last weekend, I packed a picnic and we stopped along the way and ate. That was the plan this time too and I packed what we need for our sandwiches. Well, except for the bread! We ended up stopping at a Subway and ate there instead. I do like to eat there and I can calculate exactly how many calories I am eating. Lots of places have the nutrition information online and I have been checking as much as I can before eating. I also have an app on my iPhone that is helping me keep up with calories. 

I really am just happy to see the numbers on the scale moving in this direction. Every little bit lets me know that I am doing the right thing for my body. 

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Another Motivator

One more reason that I have made the decision to try and get healthy is the fact that my blood pressure is gotten very high. My cat bit me a couple of weeks ago and I went to a walk in clinic to have it looked at and to see if I needed and antibiotic or anything since it was red and swollen. My blood pressure was so high that they would not treat me and I was advised to go straight to the E.R. Kip and I had already been talking about making changes and we had actually started a couple of days before that, but I hadn't seen any weight loss yet. (BTW, I am under the care of my regular doctor.)

What a slap in the face. Not that they wouldn't treat me, but that I had allowed me health to get so far away from me. But like I said, we had already discussed making changes and had already started putting them into place. Today, it hit home even harder when I got a phone call from my Mother. She was at the hospital with her younger brother. He had a stroke. His blood pressure, according to my mom, was sky high. He is stable, and they are thinking it was a mild one. He was in a room waiting to see a neurologist. What a reminder of where I could be if I don't keep up with the changes and do get healthy. So if you are the praying type, please keep my uncle in your prayers. 

I went to the grocery store today. Of course I sat down first and planned our meals for the week and then made my grocery list from there. Lost of fresh fruits and veggies on that list! So it is harder to make coupons work for us. It is getting a little easier to cut costs eating healthy since I am making out meal plans and I am trying to incorporate the fruits and veggies that are in season. Of course I do find it easier this time of year since I do enjoy fresh veggies, you know when tomatoes actually taste like tomatoes! 

Monday, May 24, 2010

Weekly Weigh In

Oops, I forgot to write down what I lost last week! I do know that I have lost a total of 7.6 pounds so far. I keep up with my weigh loss, goals and everything using an app on my phone. I love it, it does almost every single thing I want it too. The only thing is does now do is tell my how much I lost since the last weigh in, it only gives me how much I have lost since I started. Not a big deal and watching that number grow is nice. Once I put in the new weight it replaces the last one and if I forget to look then I don 't have a weekly total. I am happy with that number.

One thing this app also does is let me record my food intake each day. And I have been good at logging all the food that I eat. I can see what I am eating and keep a running calorie count. It keeps the guesswork out of it for me and I think helps me stay on track.

We did pretty good this weekend, even with the traveling. I packed a healthy picnic lunch and we stopped at a rest area and had a picnic on the tables there. The weather was perfect for it too and we felt better knowing we did not spend money on fast food or waste the calories eating foods with no nutritional value. Thanks for the encouraging emails and comments I have gotten.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A Challenging Weekend

I hate that I am going to be out of town for the next two weekends and then the weekend I get back I have a birthday party. If I had a choice, I would have been on my healthy eating plan a little longer before spending two days completely out of my routine. I am packing healthy snacks and some yogurt and fruit for breakfast tomorrow. We are also packing a picnic lunch for this afternoon. Hopefully by planning some I not blow it too bad. Weigh in Day on Monday. My parents are notorious for eating out for almost every meal and they know all my favorite spots. By heading out this morning instead of last night we will miss my favorite breakfast place, and that was another piece of planning. 

I am thinking about taking pictures of myself and posting to chronicle my weight loss. Haven't decided yet though. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Still at it!

Well I am still following my healthy eating plan. I went to the grocery store on Sunday evening and got all the food for this week. I prepped as much as possible. That has made it very easy to stick with the healthy foods. As of this morning, I have lost 8.2 pounds. I am starting to notice the slightest difference in the butt of my pants. Once again, planning has come to the rescue!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Some success---finally

I had gotten so far off my healthy eating plan and got to the highest point my weight has ever gotten to before. After steeping off the scales that morning two weeks ago, I felt so bad about myself, so defeated that I had gotten and overwhelmed with how much weight I needed to lose. Later though, I realized that I could make the decision to continue on the path I am on and keep gaining weight or I could make some changes. So the first week I started cutting back on portion sizes and paying attention to what and when I was eating. I lost 2 pounds that week. This past week, I went to the store, bought mostly fresh vegetables and fruits. When I got home, I went ahead and portioned all the food into containers. I also sat down and planned my meals. This week, I lost 4.5 pounds. 

What frustrates me the most is that when I eat healthy, I feel better. So much better that you would think that I would want to keep doing it. I like healthy foods too, I love vegetables of all kinds. The difference in my energy level when I eat healthy is amazingly different. When I exercise, I also notice a difference in my pain level and the fact that I can go a little longer before having to stop. So I feel better when I eat healthy and exercise. But I still grab junk food. It's crazy, I know. 

Monday, April 19, 2010

This week's groceries

We went to the store on Saturday evening. I saved $37 + in coupons and then the sale items on top of that. Best deals? I got 4 cans of dog food for free, Snuggle Fabric Softener for  .69 for sheets and .99 for the liquid, a roll of paper towels for .09. We don't have a dog but I am passing along the cans of dog food to a friend that has two dogs. 

I did buy healthier food this week. But I am so discouraged on the weight loss front. I do good for a few days and then back to bad habits. I am so glad Easter is over and there is no more temptation with that candy. I swear Easter Candy is so hard for me to resist. If anyone has any good motivation suggestions, please let me know.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Grocery store freebies

I have neglected this blog too long! I went to the grocery store on Monday and between coupons and sales, I saves $102.00. The man behind me in line was in shock. He kept watching the total go down lower and lower and finally leaned over and asked if he could see what I saved. He was funny, he asked if I did this every week and how long it took to cut the coupons and everything. That was a larger total than normal. I was proud! My freebies included cans of tomatoes, a tub of chocolate frosting, and some candy bars. Another good deal--the ginormous box of Cheerios was on sale for 2.99 (normal 5.98) and I had a coupon for $1.00 off of two boxes. So $12.00 of cereal for $5. Not too bad.

On the weight loss front. I kind of got sidetracked on that for a couple of weeks and gained two pounds. But now, I have taken those two back off plus one more. I am hoping that as we are coming into spring in summer that will improve as I can eat more fresh fruits and veggies.

And the frosting and candy I bought? They are for Easter activities, not for me to eat!

Thursday, February 11, 2010


I am working on a new system for coupons. Not sure how much I like it yet, I haven't been to the store with it yet. I know it takes me longer to sort my coupons but I am hoping that there will be a noticeable difference in the time at the grocery store. We'll see!

The last trip to the grocery store I saved $28.30 in coupons and with the Kroger plus savings I had a bill of $189 and ended up paying $111.00. I am getting better!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Grocery Shopping, etc.

I did something a little different this week when I was shopping. I used Shortcuts electronic coupons to linked directly to my Kroger card. Actually I have linked them before and then forgot so I am not sure if I saved anything or not. This week as I registered them I added them to my grocery list, including the quantity that I would need to purchase to get the discount. That helped and I was able to use them. You are able to added the products you use and I think new ones come out on a  weekly basis. After I used them I received an email telling me my total savings amounts. There were several products that I added to my card that I ended up not using though because they were not on sale. 

I am becoming more efficient at making my meal plans and using what we have on hand. It takes a little time to sit down and get it all in writing but it does make the rest of the week less stressful. I try and prep the next days lunches and snacks while I am making dinner. Having that written meal plan really helps then too. Preparing dinner and getting ready for the next day at the same time is a time save too, I am only in the kitchen once and I only have to clean up once too.

So we have been using the homemade detergent for almost a month now. Our clothes are clean and they smell fresh (but without the perfumy smell of commercial detergent). After I see how many batches I can make out of the boxes of washing soda and borax, I will do a post about the cost per batch/load.

Monday, January 18, 2010


When I weighed this morning I had lost 2.0 pounds. Not bad at all and better than I thought it would be. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Truth Learned

I am watching the Biggest Loser right now. They had Jillian try and eat a typical meal that one of the teams would have eaten before coming to the ranch. Everything was very processed, fried and no fresh ingredients. Of course in typical Jillian style she said all that much more colorfully than I did, but she kept saying that wasn't food, basically it was junk. Over the past couple of months that is one thing that Kip and I have learned as we have changed our eating habits. I know that they better choices I made with the foods that we eat and prepare, the better I felt.  It isn't an amazing, after one day transformation, but after a couple of weeks we both noticed more energy and being more alert. Add that in with losing weight and feeling better from that and it is easier to make better choices. 

Speaking o making better choices: I had a friend that I haven't seen in a while get in touch and we agreed to meet at Starbucks this afternoon. I chose to pass up the sweets and left that lemon pound cake alone!! 

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A Goal

I think my first goal that I want to achieve by losing weight is to be able to wear my engagement ring again. It has been too tight to wear for quite some time. I want to be able to get it back on as soon as possible. I miss it.

Breakfast: WHole grain Bagel with Cream Cheese and Smoked Salmon spread.
Snack: Apple with peanut butter
Lunch: BBQ Lentils, rice, small salad
Dinner: Hamburger, baked potato (our meal out this week)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Grocery Shopping

Getting back on track with the eating after the holidays was easier than I thought it would be. I know I actually felt better when we were eating healthier so I think that made it easier to do. Now that I am only working one job, prepping and preparing healthier food is much easier. My goal is to get into a routine so that while I am preparing dinner I am also working on the next day's food. This morning was nice, lunch was ready so all I/we had to do was put everything into our lunch into our lunch boxes. Here's a quick rundown on our menu:
Monday: (before going to the grocery store)
Breakfast--Toast with cheese, pineapple
Snack-Laughing Cow Cheese, Wasa multigrain crackers
Lunch: Ham Sandwich, carrot sticks
Snack: Steamed Edamame
Dinner: baked Salmon, Rice, corn

Breakfast: Special K cereal, boiled egg
Snack: lowfat vanilla yogurt, mixed berries, almonds
Lunch: Tuna wrap, small garden salad, vinaigrette dressing
Snack: carrots, hummus
Dinner: Bean Soup, slice cornbread
We are watching portion sizes and have found that by eating those snack it keeps us from being starving and over eating at meal times. If you are interested in recipes or portion sizes let me know.

We went to the grocery store last night. I have approached my meal planning several different ways in the past, but I think I have found one that is going to work for us health wise and for our budget too. We have tried to limit shopping to a certain dollar amount, but then I miss out on some of the sales and things that I can get with coupons that eventually lower our bills. I have also followed a specific eating plan, which while effective for our health and weight loss, totally blew our food budget. I have decided for now that I will "shop" our pantry first, plan as much as I can using ingredients on hand and then making a list for the remainder. Then when we are shopping, I can take advantage of all the sales and stock up on things we use often without worrying about unused food piling up or blowing the budget. I am sure others have thought of this but I just thought of this after trying many recommend, and not quite for us, shopping plans. Another thing I have done to eliminate wasted left over food was to plan Fridays as left over day. 

Included in our grocery budget are all breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks (with the exception of one dinner a week), paper goods, household cleaning items, and toiletries. We spent: $83.20 for the week. I had $8.80 in coupons and saved $25.25 with my store loyalty card, for a total savings of 30%. I hope to get this down lower, but I had slacked off on the coupons so I didn't have as many and we hadn't been to the store in a couple of weeks so the pantry was pretty bare.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Not as bad as I thought

After weighing this morning, I realized that I didn't do as much damage to my weight loss as I thought I had. Since the week of Thanksgiving until now, I only gained 4 pounds back. That still puts my total weight loss at 10.2 pounds. We are getting back on track though. I sat down yesterday and made our meal plan for the week and then got up early enough to eat breakfast and pack both of our lunches. I know that eating breakfast is important and have found that by eating breakfast, even if I am not "hungry" really does put me on track for the rest of the day. Once again, I have learned that planning is key to making it all work. 

One a frugal living note: I have gotten out of the habit of being diligent with my coupons lately. While I was making the meal plan yesterday I also took the time to cut out coupons and sort through my coupon organizer. I think I want to switch the way I organize them into something a little easier. I have seen people use binders and plastic sleeves and I am thinking that is what I would like to do. I would love hints if you have any!

Sunday, January 3, 2010


Kip took this picture of me today. I hate it. Even my nose looks fat. I think I will keep it close by though and look at it when I am wanting to eat something that is not healthy. We did get off track during the holidays, we have a hard time sticking to a healthy eating plan when we are traveling. I think we did better than in previous years though, I didn't bake as much and we didn't attend as many parties. I cleaned out the refrigerator yesterday and will go the the store tomorrow. Tomorrow is weigh in day too so we can see how much damage we really did. 

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A New Year

I have decided to change the focus of this blog a little bit. It's okay, it's my blog! In addition to trying to live healthier lives, we are attempting to live a little more frugally. We learned very quickly that following a specific meal plan led to much higher costs at the grocery store. Another thing that we really learned was that when we take the time to plan for meals by making a meal plan and going to the grocery store that it was much easier to eat healthy and that if there were healthy choices available that we made healthy choices. This year we are going to try and take that way of thinking and apply it to our finances. We are going to be paying off some credit cards in the near future and will set a new budget. One thing I have found while looking for Frugal living tips, was that many people following a frugal lifestyle make their own laundry detergent. That is my project for today. This is the picture of the grated bar of soap!

After that I will be sitting down to make our meal plan for the week. I would love any healthy eating tips or frugal living tips that you might want to share.