Friday, November 16, 2012

Canned Goods

I know it has been a while since I have posted anything here, but one of the reasons is that I have been spending so much time canning as much as I can. In the quest to eat healthier, I have decided to eliminate as much processed foods and I can and to prepare as much as I possibly can myself. So I have canning. I grew up in a gardening and canning family, so I learned a lot from them. They froze a lot of their foods though and I would prefer to have things in jars. One reason being that I wouldn't have to worry about my food in case of a power outage and another is that I just have the freezer that is on my fridge, I don't have a separate one so the amount of food that I can freeze is pretty minimal.

Because the size of my kitchen is pretty small and I have very little storage I was running out of room to store my jars of food. I already had one stainless steel shelf in my kitchen and decided a matching shelf system would solve a lot of my storage issues. I bought this five shelf system at Lowes and bought two additional shelves. The bottom shelf is tall enough to hold both of my canners and then I arranged the other shelves just for enough apart to allow me to to move quart jars around. I have three baskets on top. One holds tools such as funnels, jar grabber, food mill, and unused lids. The middle one is full of bands. The last one has consumables that I use like clear gel, pectins, citric acid and things like that. 

So here is the back wall of my kitchen with both shelves side by side:

I am pretty happy with the extra storage that this gives me. And I am VERY happy that my kitchen looks much less cluttered.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

More Canning Goodies

I have had so much fun since I decided to start canning and making jams and jellies again. I forgot how satisfying it is to look at those jars of beautiful preserved foods can be. And how great it is to hear those "pings" coming from the jars as the seal. I have probably gotten a little carried away with the jams, but I seem to have an unending supplies of offers to relieve me of a jar here and there for taste testing. I did take a few jars of the blueberry to share with some friends at work. 

I went back to my Whole Foods last Friday because they were having a one day sale on peaches. So I bought a bushel. Kip asked if I really needed two boxes. I have found the magic response "well there is peach jam, peach cobbler, peach ice cream, ...." and suddenly he is on board! It did take me a while to plow through all those peaches, but I managed to get a large batch of raspberry peach jam, a couple of batches of peach jam and several jars of sliced peaches. 

Summer peaches are definitely at the top of my list of all time favorite flavors in this world, but I think blackberries hold that top spot. I remember when I was a little girl I would ask my Grandmother for "peanut butter pocketbooks", which was a single piece of bread smeared with peanut butter and blackberry jam. That is one of my strongest food memories from being a child. My SIL offered to take me blackberry picking with her this weekend and I took her up on it. Her BIL and SIL have blackberries on their property and they are out of town and called her and let her know there were lots of berries that would need to be picked while they were gone. We were both able to get enough berries for a good size batch of jam. It was her first time making and canning anything, and I think she is hooked. 

Friday, June 29, 2012

Apple Pie Jam

Having my canning stuff out again is proving to be as fun and as satisfying as I remember it being. I have just been going through a couple of canning books/magazines looking for types of jam and other things to make while the fruit is so available. This one was a new recipe for me, it is called Apple Pie Jam. I love raw apples but only occasionally like them cooked so I only made one small batch of this. It is delicious though! I didn't have any left after filling these jars so Kip didn't get a sample, but I  know he is going to like this one.

I am off today looking for peaches to can!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Blueberry Jam

I used to can and make jams and jellies quite a bit, but in the past few years have neglected my jars. I decided this would be the year to get back to doing something I love doing and love eating even more! I have missed growing things too. This year I am growing tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and strawberries in my back yard. I can't grow everything (yet) that I want to can so I am going to be relying on my CSA, the Farmer's Market and wherever I can get what I am looking for. I saw on Facebook the other day that Whole Foods would be having a having a one day sale on organic blueberries yesterday so blueberry jam would be my starting point this year. I went early yesterday morning and got two flats of blueberries. This is the first batch of jam. I will be making another bath this morning and then I will also freeze some of the berries to eat with oatmeal and to cook things like blueberry muffins and blueberry pancakes. 

And I am a happy girl again.

Friday, May 25, 2012

I won 2nd place!

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner! Okay actually it was my BBQ Lentil lunch that won me 2nd place in the Cosy Savvy category of the Shape the State contest. I was pretty happy with that!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Bagel Bento

I have made bagels a couple of times this week and thought that a bagel bento would be good. I sliced a poppy seed bagel and spread a cream cheese spread over both halves and then added some smoked salmon.  I have one cup of cherry tomatoes, another with tri-colored pepper strips and some homemade ranch dressing for dipping. I also added a fruit cup with strawberries, blackberries and blueberries, all packed in my Laptop Lunchbox.

BlueCross BlueShied of Tennessee is sponsoring a contest called Create Your Plate. You are supposed to create a lunch using the USDA's My Plate Guidelines. One category can be voted on by the public and I would love it if you could vote for my lunch by clicking HERE. Thanks so much!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Samantha has been checking the strawberries every time she comes over and when she was here the other day one of them was finally ripe enough to eat. We "harvested" exactly one strawberry that day, but that one strawberry was enough to make her one very happy girl. 

A close up of our "bounty"

It is funny how much of an interest she has taken in the things that I am trying to grow. Her Mom also grows things, including herbs and tomatoes, but she is so excited every time she goes out there to look at everything.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Another Bento

Here is the bento I made for yesterday's lunch using an Easy Lunchbox container. The large compartment has turkey and avocado on rye bread, and alongside that is some pepper strips, mushrooms, tomatoes and cucumbers. The smaller compartment has a tomato, mozzarella and basil salad featuring basil that I grew myself. The top compartment is mixed fruit with some kiwi, strawberries and mango strips. She also had some milk on the side that I forgot to set out when I took the picture.

I am also linking this to "What's for Lunch Wednesday".

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Friday's Bento

It just dawned on me a couple of weeks ago that the school year will be ending in about 8 or 9 weeks. Yikes! Samantha will be moving to the middle school next year and I am sure it won't be so cool to have someone bring her lunch, not to mention the fact that going back to middle school, even for lunch could trigger memories of my own middle school years. Anyway, here is the bento that I took for Samantha and Abby's lunches yesterday. The top tier has mini whole wheat pitas stuffed with hummus, turkey, avocado and an artichoke heart. the little bee picks have some cheddar and pepperjack cheeses. The bottom tier has orange pepper strips, sugar snap peas, carrots, and tomatoes. There is also a container of ranch dressing for dipping the veggies and a "tiny" orange and mini banana and some milk.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Thursdays with Samantha

Samantha has been wanting to learn how to make key lime pie for a while now. I kept forgetting to get the key limes though. I finally remembered this week. She was surprised to see how small the key limes are compared to regular limes. She loves to juice fruit and it took her a little while to get enough juice to make our pie. Lemon and key lime pies are my all time favorite desserts so I was very happy to comply with this wish!

Here she is checking out the strawberries. I have several little berries and a couple of them are starting to turn red already. She has really enjoyed my gardening efforts so far. Her favorite thing is to watch the progress of the plants as they have grown and especially as they are starting to bud. She also really enjoys looking at my compost bin. I mean I know I am a dirt nerd, and I always loved being in the dirt gardening with my Dad, but I have been surprised at her interest in the composting process and the worms.

While we were on the back patio we spotted a bird's nest. Actually I saw the bird on the corner of the house (in the photo below) and the nest and Samantha realized that there was a bird in the nest. I have no idea what kind of birds these are. The one bird stayed perched on the gutter and the other stayed on the nest.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Gardening Attempts

In the attempt to learn more and more about the foods I eat, I have decided to try and grow more things myself. I grew up in a gardening family and know the fundamentals of both growing and preserving foods. Living in apartments most of my adult life left me with almost no room to grow outside or a very limited space. So I have been limited to some tomatoes in pots. I would also rely on visits to the Farmer's Market or kindness of friends and family to get a few vegetables to can. Plus my Dad is very kind to share his canned tomatoes with me.

After getting married I moved into the house that Kip already owned but our backyard is very shady and doesn't lend itself to gardening very much. Moles are also a problem in our yard. I didn't grow anything for the first four years I lived here but I missed it. Last year I got some cherry tomato plants from my Dad. Almost all of his plants are started from seeds that he has harvested from the previous year's crop. Some of his seeds have been in his family for generations. I grew six tomato plants in posts on my back porch. 

Oh how I had missed eating tomatoes, just picked and still warm from the sun! 

I also joined a CSA last year so that we had fresh, organic vegetables throughout the summer and fall. I love my CSA and will continue being a member this year. But my quest for growing my own vegetables has continued. Kip and I had discussed a while back about building some above ground planters. He has very little interest in gardening so he was concerned that because of my back issues that he would end up doing a lot of the work. We came up with the idea of building a very large planter so that if I needed to, I could sit at and still tend to my plants.

Here is what Kip ended up building for me:

I love it. It is on wheels and has a handle so in the off season, the dirt can be emptied into the compost bin and it can be stored. Since it is mobile, I was able to watch the sun pattern for several weeks to determine the sunniest spots of the yard. I have this planter and the pots in the first picture full of plants that will hopefully provide some more of our produce needs this year. 

I also decided to not do very many flowers this year. Almost everything that I have in any of my planters is something I can eat. Here are some hanging baskets in the front of the house that has herbs in it. I have a couple of small pots inside growing in the kitchen window that also have herbs, but I decided I needed more than I could get from my small pots. 

I am still pretty happy with my compost bin. This is the first year that I have used the compost in my planters. Samantha love to go and look for worms in the compost. She is loving the fact that I have so many plants now. In fact, she sent me a text on Wednesday telling me she could't wait to see me--and my plants--on Thursday.

Let's see what I have planted so far:

German Pink tomatoes
Another tomato from my dad that I can't remember the name of
Green Peppers
Jalapeno peppers
Cayenne Peppers
Pickling cucumbers
Straight Eight cucumbers

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Part of this journey to a healthier life certainly includes being healthier mentally. For it all to be okay, my head has to be okay. I have to find balance between the physical, mental and spiritual. I haven't posted a weigh loss update in a while because I have once again let my eating get out of control. I made a lot of changed over the last year and most of those changes are still in place. At home I do avoid overly processed "convenience" foods, most of the food I eat is whole and real foods. But the scale has been steadily creeping up because I keep trying to comfort myself with ice cream and chocolate chip cookies. Mostly late at night too which makes it even worse for me. I know food, not even ice cream is going to fix anything, but I keep eating it like it is the balm needed to soothe my soul.

Lots going on, but it basically boils down to just a couple of things. My faith is broken. Not just broken, but shattered into a million tiny pieces. A part of me misses it, but a part that keeps growing doesn't even care any more. And that bothers me. A little bit. It's not the first time I have had a crisis in my faith before, but it is the first time that I feel broken beyond repair. I know all the answers that my faith wielding friends would give me but I don't want to hear them and I know they don't want to hear my response. 

I am grieving children that I don't have and will never have. I want to be a mom more than I want to take my next breath. Ever since I was a tiny child I wanted to be a mom. But my arms are empty and my heart is broken. How do you get past this?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Lessons Learned, the Hard Way

I learned three very important lessons yesterday.
1) I am not a buff 20 year old man
2) when you go to Lowes and ask for help and two helpful associates are there discussing what you need, and they are talking about concrete and whether you need the 60 or the 80, they are not talking about grades of concrete.
3) Even though I am fairly intelligent, my stubbornness often surpasses my intelligence.

I have been having a problem with gravel migrating in my driveway. I just went out and bought 5 bags of gravel to fill the holes a couple of weeks ago and already my driveway feels like I am driving down an old dirt road. So I go to my helpful Lowes that is close to my house and ask for help. The first guy gave me a suggestion but since he was fairly new he suggested we ask someone else just to make sure. He walked with me to find the gentleman that he thought would best be able to answer my question. The three of us stood there for a bit with them asking and me answering questions. They determined that mixing some concrete in with the gravel would help it hold better. They discussed back and forth if I needed the "60" or the "80" package. The younger guy went with me and picked up a bag of "60" and added it to my cart on top of the two bags of gravel and the eight pieces of plywood that were already in my cart. Young, buff 20 year old picked up that bag of concrete like I pick up the three pound bags of cat food I sometimes buy. I go to pay for my items and the cashier scanned it in the cart. I get to the car and bend over to pick up my bag of concrete and oh, the pain. Those suckers are heavy!! 

I knew as soon as I did it that I hurt myself and that I should have asked for help.

I swear that I thought they were discussing the "60" and "80" like those numbers meant some grade of concrete, not the weight of the bags of concrete. And that young guy? When he picked it up off the ground, it looked like it took no effort at all. Live and learn.

Here is where the stubbornness comes in. Even when I realized it was too heavy for me, I still loaded everything into my car and came home and finished my projects. And today I am paying for it, and I mean really paying for it.

Kip started building a compost bin for me and built the frame. I do compost everything that I can and had dug down deeper than the frame, but I still needed some type of sides on it. When I first started composting back when I still lived at home with my parents, my Dad built my compost bin using discarded pallets. This one has the same dimensions, it is a 48x 48 cube, but with no sides, I was having trouble turning the compost. When I was at Lowes, I found some lumber that was the length I needed, so I got enough of them to build my sides. I am pretty happy with the results. 

After the day was done, I had repaired the holes in my driveway, built up the sides to my compost bin, trimmed the hedges along our fence line and turned my compost. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Vanilla Extract

It interesting, since I have been eating more and more real foods I have found out how easy some things are to make. For instance, here is the vanilla extract I made. Simple as pie too, vanilla beans and vodka. I let it sit for about eight weeks before I started using it. the color is actually a little richer than it looks in this photo, I had it sitting on the counter when I was making a cake this afternoon and thought it looked pretty with the sun hitting it. 

You can kind of see my little kitchen herbs there in the window too. I have been working on redoing the kitchen and every thing is red and yellow. I found dome little tin buckets in the right colors and planted some herbs in them. They look cute sitting there in the window and just adds another pop of color to the kitchen.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Green Eggs and Ham Bento

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

I had already made our bentos when the schools decided to dismiss early. We are in for some bad weather and since the storms are supposed to hit around dismissal time, school got out early. Since I had already made them, I went to Samantha's house and ate with her there. She was thrilled with her green eggs. I made deviled eggs the way I normally do plus I added some chopped spinach to make them green. The ham is rolled up and then there are some mini toasts to go with the ham. The bottom tier has some cherry tomatoes that I halved and the added some fresh mozzarella and put them on an umbrella pick. The fruit salad is strawberries, bananas, apple slices and red grapes.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Chicken Salad Lunch

I made this lunch for myself using my Laptop Lunches bento box. It was a pretty simply lunch, just some chicken salad that I made with some grapes and almonds in it, along with a roll and some cucumber spears. I also had an orange in my lunch box too. I usually try to remember to toss some fruit in my lunch box, just in case lunch wasn't enough, but with that ginormous roll, that wasn't a problem with this lunch. 

I am getting much better at packing lunches. I struggled with lunches more than anything else when I started eliminating fast foods and highly processed frozen lunches. I do get bored with eating the same thing over and over again, so variety is a must for me. Kip doesn't mind eating the same foods as often as I do. I save the leftovers from dinner and go ahead and put them in either this bento or one of my Easy Lunchboxes and I am ready to go. It is almost as convenient as grabbing a frozen meal. I also save money and have much less food waste than I did before.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Soup for Lunch

I love soup and could eat it every day, including breakfast! Samantha enjoys eating it almost as much as I do and she also enjoys helping make it. I decided to make soup for her lunch the other day. SO she has soup in the thermos, some assorted cheese cubes and bread in the yellow tier and a fruit salad with blueberries, grapes and oranges in the blue tier.

Since I have switched to eating almost all real food prepared by me we have pretty much given up ramen noodle soup. I still like those little curly noodles on occasion so I decided to make a soup with a healthier base and then just add the noodles in the pack. I saw on Weelicious a couple of weeks ago that she did something very similar. I made my soup using the ingredients that I had on hand and things that I know Samantha and I both really like. I don't have exact measurements because I was using what was left. I started with some chicken stock from my freezer. To that I added some minced garlic, a couple of tablespoons of chopped onion, a couple of tablespoons of miso, some sliced portobello mushrooms and a couple of handfuls of chopped spinach. After that cooked for a little bit, I added the noodles (and tossed the seasoning pack) and cooked long enough for them to soften up. It was very good, I got to have some curly noodles, and by adding the veggies, I was able to make it a little healthier and more filling.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Valentine Bento

I forgot to post the Valentine Bento that I made this week. The top tier has what I call sandwich kabobs and some grapes. The sandwich kabobs are cubed bread, cubed ham and cubed cheese. the bottom tier is a mix of acocado, cucumbers, red and green peppers and tomatoes and in the heart shaped cup are some mini pickles, olives and marinated artichoke hearts. The fruit cup on the side is a mix of blueberries, grapes, raspberries and strawberries. The little dipping cup on the side has some salad dressing for the veggies. Sometimes Samantha likes dressing on the veggies, sometimes she likes them plain. I have been taking my niece bentos too when I take Samantha one and she loves to dip her veggies so I always include it when I take her lunch.

I have never been much of a sandwich person. Every once in a while is fun but I would not like to eat one every day for lunch. When I decided to start eating  healthier, I knew resturant lunches would be out and I knew that if I ended up taking sandwiches for lunch every day that my lunch makeovers would last approximately a week. I started by Goggling for ideas for other interesting lunch ideas and that is how I discovered bentos in the first place. Samantha happened to be over here one day while I was doing a search and she fell in love with the idea of bentos too. I had been her nanny really since about the time she started really eating most table foods so I knew the bentos would be perfect for her. She has always eaten just about anything that you give her and she loves meals when she gets to eat a variety of different foods. The concept of giving her a lunch with a variety of different types of foods really appeals to her. I try and eat lunch with her on Fridays or when I am off work and always take her a bento. Samantha likes sandwiches even less than I do, but she loves all the components of a sandwich. There's where the sandwich kabob comes from!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Sourdough Bread

I thought I would show a picture of my sourdough starter. I have it in a white crock and it sits on the counter covered with cheesecloth. We were getting ready to make bread the other night so I snapped a picture. Samantha is here on Thursday evenings and it is our cooking night. We were making a simple chicken and bean soup for dinner so we had some extra time to make some pretzels and a loaf of bread for her to take home with her. Our pretzels were tasty, but we really need to work on our technique before I post any pictures of them!

Since Samantha is really showing an interest in cooking and not just helping to cook I have been trying to show her how to properly measure ingredients. When she was younger I would usually measure out the ingredients and have them in prep bowls for her. Here she is measuring out the flour:

This was a fun evening for us. She has used yeast before when she and her mom make pizza crust, but she hasn't made bread before. The pizza crust recipe we both use only has to rise once before kneading and forming into a pizza so this was her first experience with kneading and rising twice. I do have a bread machine that I use some of the time, but if I am making bread for sandwiches or toast I prefer the shape that I get when I bake in a traditional loaf pan. Plus since she is wanting to learn how to cook, I wanted her to learn how to knead the dough on her own. 

I so wish I had a bigger kitchen! That small amount of counter space that you see is the only counter space that I have. Just to the right of her working space is the sink. Teeny, tiny kitchen!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Day of Cooking

I have spent part of today cooking. I made bread. This is a loaf of sourdough bread as soon as it come out of the oven. The recipe says to cool it completely before slicing, but here is how it went here at my house: pull bread out of the oven, out of the pan and onto a cooling rack, take a picture with the camera that was sitting right there on the counter, immediately grab the bread knife and slice off a piece and eat with butter. The rest I will wait to slice, but this is the first loaf of sourdough bread that I have made in a very long time and I couldn't wait that long!

My SIL wanted to come over last week to learn how to make chicken and dumplings. While she was here she mentioned that she would like to learn how to make bread next. Specifically, she wanted to learn how to make sourdough bread. A have thought of almost nothing except sourdough bread since that conversation! A couple of days after that, I was in Books A Million killing some time and saw a copy of a special release from Mother Earth News, a magazine all about bread. I glanced through it and saw several recipes that I wanted to try, and it included a section on sourdough breads. I bought the magazine and came home and got a batch of sour dough starter working. This is the first time that I have attempted making my own starter, but I don't know anyone to get a starter from, so making my own or finding one at the store were my options. I decided to try it on my own and it was ready to bake with today. I am very happy with the results!

While my SIL was here, she was teasing me a little because I was making sweet potato chips in my dehydrator, I has some alfalfa sprouts going in my seed sprouter and I had my meal planning sheets out.  It was good natured teasing just because I was doing all of this myself instead of just going to the store and buying them. She knows that I have been eliminating processed food from our diets and am trying to learn how to make as much from scratch as I can. One thing that she asked was how I find the time to do all the cooking. Here is one of the tips I shared with her. 

When I make spaghetti sauce, I make a bunch of it. Really it doesn't take that much longer to make a giant pot rather than just enough for one meal. Only the extra time to cut up extra onions, mince some extra garlic and open the jars of tomatoes. I am fortunate enough to be using tomatoes that my dad grew (organically) and canned himself. For instance, I had planned to make lasagna for dinner tonight. I knew there was no more sauce in the freezer so I made a big pot of sauce this morning. I will have enough for tonight's lasagna plus two small bags that will be enough to make two pizzas and then three to four larger bags that will be for spaghetti, goulash or other meals. Those bags will go in the freezer so during the weeks ahead when we have a busy night planned, I have a healthier, quick dinner solution that does not involve me opening a can or jar of sauce. 

I was trying to let her know that she can make these changes herself if she wants to and it can be done in a way that she will have options other than a drive through on the nights that life just gets crazy. Here is a picture of my sauce:

One of the great blogs I have found while transitioning to all real foods has been Kelly the Kitchen Kop. She does a fabulous round up on Wednesdays for other people to feature the real food that they are making in their homes. The has been a wonderful resource for me, not only for recipes, but tips on making this change and doing it a little more affordably. She has a great giveway posted here on her blog for a Le Creuset Cast Iron skillet. The one she has pictured is a beautiful yellow that would look great in my yellow and red kitchen! 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

No Bento Today

Normally I post a picture of Samantha's Friday Bento but this week school was canceled on Friday because of snow. Well not really snow, it was really more the threat of snow! So Samantha spent the day here. Her mom  gave her breakfast before she dropped her off, but around lunch time she asked for breakfast foods. I recently found an egg cuber and she had been dying to get some square eggs in a bento. I decided to make those for her brunch on Friday. 

On Friday evening, my sister in law came over to learn how to make chicken and dumplings. I know not the healthiest meal, but it is something that I do make on occasion. So she commented on how long it took to make the dumplings, cook the chicken etc. vs. simply opening a can. She asked how I find time to do that every night. To be fair, I only work part time now while she works full time. But most of my adult life, with the exception of the last three years, I have always worked two jobs-a full time one and a part time one. I do have more time now. But I did explain that no matter how much or how little time I have, I have always prepared most of my own food. I told her it boiled down to a couple of things for me. Number one is that I have made the decision to try and reclaim a healthier life and body and for me that means not eating so much food that is so overly processed that they contain more chemicals than food. The other thing is planning my meals. We usually eat chicken twice a week so if I know I am going to be preparing that twice, I will try and only cook it once. Then later in the week if I want to make chicken and dumplings or chicken soup, or fajitas, then that step has already been take care of so that the main time that it takes, is only assembling the soup or other ingredients needed to make that second meal.

I know she also struggles with packing herself a lunch instead of relying on drive-thrus. I pulled some of my lunches out that were already ready to drop in my lunch box. I showed her my Easy Lunchboxes and told her that as I am putting away dinner, I put them into these containers and pop them in the fridge. Presto, dinner leftovers are put away and lunches are packed in the same step. Not only does this allow me to eat healthier lunches, it saves me money and time, especially in the mornings.

Monday, January 9, 2012


I had slacked off on my exercise and knew I need to get back on track. Not an excuse, but the holidays throw my schedule into a tailspin. I know I could have, and should have, still made time for the exercise, but I didn't. I have been moving a little more over the past week, but this was my first day back at the Y since before Christmas. The elliptical machines I like to use were all being used so I decided to jump on the Arc Trainer. I may not be able to walk tomorrow! 

I am also back to logging my food on a regular basis. I like doing it on my phone for several reasons. I always have my phone with me so there is no excuse to not log. Another reason is that the math is done for me. I can simply log that I ate 1/2 of blueberries and it adds it in, I don't have to go look somewhere else to find the calories. Since the math is done as soon as I log food or exercise, I can see where I stand at any given time in the day. 

Any tips you use that help keep you accountable?

Friday, January 6, 2012

Friday's Bento

Samantha requested sushi for today's bento lunch. So I made her some sushi with crab and salmon. She also have a finger salad with some mushrooms, carrots, cucumbers and tomatoes along with some ranch dipping sauce. To finish all the meal she has a fruit cup with oranges, grapes and blueberries ( they are under the grapes ). I usually eat with my niece Abby too, but don't usually take her a lunch. Samantha is the first one to eat lunch so I can catch her before she buys her lunch. I usually forget to call my sister-in-law to tell her to let Abby know not to buy her lunch. I was on the ball this week and managed to get everything at the store on my main grocery shopping trip and call my SIL.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Planning Meals

I have gotten back on track planning my meals. I could tell a big difference at the grocery store too! Everything I needed was on my list and that is all I put in my cart. I takes me a little while to actually get everything planned and down on paper, but it really makes up for it during the week. I try and pack my lunches the night before so that I am not tempted to drive through a fast food place. I purchased some Easy Lunchboxes and those are working out for me, as I put away the leftovers from dinner I go ahead and pack the next day's lunches.

 As far as the planning goes, I just typed up a sheet and then labeled it with each of the days. The photo above is our "info central" board. The organizer is from Thirtyone and I like that it has so many pockets on it. I try and keep everything in that central location. The paper beside the pens is my meal planning sheet inside a clear pocket. My extra sheets are in there too. When I sit down to plan the following week, I will check to see if there is anything that didn't get made that week and I put it at the beginning of the next week because I have already purchased the ingredients. Sometimes meals get skipped because we will do a leftover night if there are more leftovers than we can eat for lunch or if Kip is working late (and my dinner is popcorn or leftovers). I will also keep the older ones for a while for those times I am in a rut and can't think of anything new. 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New year, New Goals, Update on 2011 Goals

Another new year another batch of broken resolutions? I don't really do resolutions, but I do have goals for every year. I have found that if I take the time to put those goals into writing I am much more likely to achieve them. When I was in jr. high, I read a couple of things that have really stuck with me about having goals, setting goals and then achieving them. The first one;
The problem with not having goals is never knowing whether or not you have achieved them"
I think that is a great thing to remember. I have found in my own life that having goals that can be achieved really does help me feel more settled. When that goal is achieved, I have a greater sense of accomplishment. Feeling accomplishment helps me to be happier too and I have a better send of being grounded and present in my life not just floating through trying to get by. 

Here were my goals for 2011. After each one, I will give an update.

***I am going to continue the changes that I have made. I also want to implement these changes throughout the rest of the year too. 
I did pretty good with this one. I have become more aware of the foods I eat and have eliminated some foods altogether that I know are just not good for me. And after learning how bad they were for me, I could not even justify eating them to satisfy a craving. 
***I want to continue my quest to be at a healthier weight. 
I kind of had a number of 50 pounds as a goal for the year. I did not quite meet that goal. I lost 44 lbs but through the holidays I have gained about 7 lbs back. That still puts me 37 lbs lighter than I was last year. I am not going to feel like I failed because I was short of my goal. I am going to celebrate those 37 lbs, enjoy my new clothes and continue to work on reducing that number. 
***I would like to lose enough weight that my doctor will take me off my blood pressure medication.
I am not there yet. I do have a family history of hight blood pressure, even among relatives that do not have weight issues, so I know that there is a possibility that this will not happen.I am not going to feel like a failure on this one either. I know I am getting to a healthier weight and if I still have to take blood pressure medications I will know that I have been doing what I need to be healthier and if that included medication, so be it.
***I would like to become more aware of where my food comes from and try to incorporate as much local food into my diet as possible.
I am pretty proud of this one. I joined a CSA with a local biodynamic farm this year and we really enjoyed all of the fresh produce that we received. I learned how to cook some new things like diacon radishes and swiss chard. We were amazed at how much better some things tasted. I don't thing either of us has every gotten that excited over fresh corn before!  
***I want to cook from scratch as much as possible so that I know exactly what is going into my food. I am pretty good with this one, but I know I could do better.
I am really doing a lot better in this area. I have learned to make BBQ sauce, salad dressings, different versions of hummus and a lot of other things that I used to buy without even thinking. I would like to get even better with this because I really do enjoy making things that way.

Another goal that I made after these was to participate in a 5K. I thought that was on the original list, but I think it was one of those that I thought would be too hard to achieve. BUT I DID IT!!! My goals for participating was to finish, preferably in under an hour and to not be the very last person to cross the finish line. But I would have just just as happy if I had finished. I met those goals and I can't tell you what a sense of accomplishment that was for me. If you have read my blog before you might remember my struggle with my body image and how I felt about my body due to my back problems. If not and you are interested, some of those blog posts can be found here. Basically my body's limitations prevent me from doing a lot and I was so focused on the "I can't". Finishing this 5K was a huge I CAN and I DID!!!!

So my goals for 2012 are:
***Continue learning more ways of a healthier lifestyle
***Learn more vegetarian dishes that feel like meals instead of just side dishes. I don't plan on becoming a complete vegetarian, but I do want to consume a lot less meat. I will still be eating cheese though. 
***Participate in another 5K, beating my last time. Even if only by a second or two, I want to get a little faster.
***Make sure to take the time to plan my meals. I do so much better, both with my weight and how much money I spend at the store if I take the time to plan. I have gotten away from that a little, and can tell a difference. I have gotten to the point that I can do it pretty quickly, but it more than makes up for the time because I only have to think about meals once. this is especially helpful with lunches.
***Continue moving to a healthier weight. I have that goal of 50 pounds again this year, but I will celebrate every pound that is gone. 
***Find more ways of being active in addition to "exercise time". If I can do that, I think I can influence Kip a little more since he really does not like to exercise. But for me, it also gives me extra calorie burning.

Anyone else want to share?