Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Celebrating 14 years

Hello friends!  It's been awhile!!  We changed our wedding anniversary plans.  Each year we go out to a dinner or a movie and dinner......boring!  This year since we have been working on our fitness I had the idea to schedule a photo shoot, to give us a tangible memory as well as celebrate our weight loss.

Something I've always wanted to do was ride horses, so we opted to change our plans from the photo session, which would have also cost a lot more also in the end, to an adventure date consisting of a night at a bed and breakfast of a working horse ranch, followed by a breakfast, a 20 minute lesson,  and 90 minutes of trail riding.

Our cabin for the night

We arrived in the dark, after Mike's full day at work, so we couldn't appreciate the beauty of the drive or the ranch until the next morning.  We did arrive armed with some organic dark chocolate and wine to see us through the evening.  ;0) 

The next morning at 9am we showed up for breakfast which was set up outdoors on the porch of the main house.  A nice long table with pitchers of water was set up and then another area where the food was lined up, covered.  There was cereal and milk, yogurt, coffee, a ham, cheese and egg casserole as well as pancakes with strawberries and whipped cream.

Beautiful boy

Some of the horses

A couple more beauties

We then walked down to watch the horses be prepared.  We had our short lesson, practiced in the arena and the lined up in formation to take to the trails!  Mike was third in line and I was behind him.

I rode Blade
Mike rode Casey

 What a wonderful memory we made that day.  I much prefer activity like this to the same 'ol same 'ol.  This is something I have *always* wanted to do but could never afford as a child or young adult.  Then, I simply was too heavy.  It is a wonderful freeing feeling to be able to have choices and not be held back from doing what I really want to do!  I still have a way to go with my weight loss, but I would not have DREAMED of doing this last year.   Correction:  I could have ONLY DREAMED of doing this last year.  This year after gaining some fitness I was able to DO IT!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Progressing Right Along...

Where to start?  Where to start??  I guess at the beginning.  Ok, I bought this dress in April of 2011 for my cousin's May wedding.  I ordered it online and when it came from David's Bridal, I quickly found and later confirmed that their sizes run small, so I couldn't squeeze into the size 16.  NOT.  EVEN.  CLOSE.

No problem, I'd wear it for my 13th anniversary in August, surely by then it would fit.  Ummm.....NO.  Not only didn't it fit but I actually gained 30 lbs between then and Feb of 2012.  How did I do this?  By eating any crap I wanted, when I wanted it and by not working out.  Plain and Simple.

I started my fitness journey Feb 26th of 2012.  In the first 8 weeks I ate perfectly clean without a hitch,  and did the Turbo Jam program as well as half of the P90X program.  Then in the last 6 weeks or so (losing count here) I have done well but with a few hiccups along the way of missing workouts for a week at a time or eating off here and there.  I've lost 36 lbs total and 17" despite all the hiccups.  Even though I've felt like I've stagnated, my dress proves otherwise.

I tried it on weeks ago, and I actually got it on.  I was elated!  I couldn't zip it up AT ALL in the back, but it was on and I could actually believe that it would fit me soon.  :)

Today for ha-ha's, out of feeling kind of blah about my progress and effort as of late,  I tried it on.  I had to take steroids last week and gained a few lbs, and ate some junk to make it a complete pity party...so I am feeling off kilter and behind as I get back on track.  SOOOOO the news is that IT FIT!!!  Not only did it FIT, but I could ZIP IT ALL THE WAY UP!!!!!!  Now, it was very tight, not wearable out yet.  If i had bent down, I could have split the seam.  BUT IT actually FIT!  Wow what a gift of motivation to wind myself right back up and stop messing around.  WOO Stinking HOO.

Oh I've got a way to go but I am getting there.  Beachbody fitness programs work.  They don't concentrate on one aspect, but the whole person.  Fitness, yes, but also nutrition and mind/spirit.  4 more sizes to go to be at my ideal BMI.

8 more weeks until my 14th Anniversary, and no doubt that I will wear the dress this year.  I just wonder if I will need it tailored by then....EEK!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Sourdough trials

I have tried making sourdough bread a couple of times.  It did work, but it took so long to actually rise during the bread making stage that it became too sour to actually eat.  I am resistant to using yeast during authentic sourdough making!!  I just don't won't have it.  SOOOOO I found an old time sourdough recipe using unbleached white flour rather than the whole wheat I've been using.  I want to get the hang of this skill and if it means starting with an easier flour, I'm all for it.  Still, it will be better than store bought!

update:  Well I had to get off my high horse and use a little store bought yeast as my first attempt rose a little bit, but nowhere near enough to produce a pleasant loaf.  Now, that said, it did taste fine, but was rather flat and wide.  The boys came home and all had a slice or two of it, and the rest of it I simly cut into strips and made breadsticks to go with that evening's dinner.  A big hit!  I combined softened butter and a lot of granulate garlic, simply brushed it on with a pastry brush and popped the pan in the oven at 350* until done.

Today I did turn out a lovely sourdough loaf, using two different old time sourdough recipes as a guide, so here is how I did it, using unbleached bread flour this time along with a small amount of store bought yeast.  (That said I have plans to try again with no yeast, using potato water to attract wild yeast)  This recipe could also be made up quite quicker which was nice!

*note:  Use glass and wooden utensils, not aluminum,  steel or plastic

In a large glass mixing bowl or crock add:

4 Cups unbleached bread flour
4 Cups warm water (not too hot! just warm)
3  TBSP sugar

Mix very well with your wooden spoon of choice.  I let it sit out for about an hour to attract some wild yeast, and beat it again real good before covering and setting to a quiet space in my kitchen for 48 hours.


After the 48 hours this is what it looks like:

You can see the separation of the fermentation process.  Just mix the liquid back in gently until it is well incorporated again.


Now we make the sponge.
Add to a large glass mixing bowl:
1 Cup starter
1 Cup warm water (not too warm) (add to it 1 tsp yeast, allow to sit 5 min, then incorporate into bowl)
1 TBSP sugar
2 Cups unbleached bread flour

Stir batter until no lumps remain with your wooden spoon.  Let this sit overnight.  This is what it looked like in the morning.

Now it's time to store the remaining starter in the fridge until it is next needed for more bread baking.  I put mine in a glass Pyrex measure/pour bowl and covered with Saran Wrap.  

Now to make your bread you add to the sponge:

1 Cup warm water (not too warm!) 
Add to the water, 1 tsp yeast --allow to set for 5 minutes and then add the remaining ingredients
3 tsp salt
enough flour to make a soft dough.  I personally used 4-1/2 Cups unbleached white bread flour.

Knead 10 minutes, until it's nice and pliable.  

Allow the dough set in bowl, covered with a kitchen towel,  at room temperature until doubled in bulk again.

1-1/2 hours later I cut the dough in half with a sharp knife, shaped into two loaves and placed on a baking sheet sprinkled lightly with corn meal.   Dust tops with a fine sprinkling of flour, and cover with kitchen towel.  Then I left undisturbed, covered with a light kitchen towel, to allow to rise once more undisturbed.

Preheat oven to 375*.  

Slash the top of the loaves gently with a serrated knife,  and pop the loaves in the oven immediately.  

After 35 minutes, check on the loaves and remove to cool.  Do not slice bread until it is completely cooled or it will be gummy inside.  

So that you could see the size of the loaf, I placed one on a dinner plate!

Here is a look at it sliced up.  :)


Now just simply feed your starter  

Add to the starter:

1 Cup mildly warm water
1 Cup unbleached bread flour
1 TBSP sugar

Stir well, cover and store in fridge for the next usage.  

Monday, April 30, 2012

Remaking Me

I have finally gotten my weight and food issues under control.  For the past few years I would gain weight and then lose it again using the Atkins diet or a variation thereof.  I really didn't get much in the way of exercise.  I would get halfway to my ultimate goal, only to get completely derailed in October or November each time....  pumpkin lattes, wanting to make pumpkin bread with the children, Thanksgiving, my birthday, Christmas.  You  name it!  When all was said and done I was lost, far down a lost path.  I've done this numerous times, sad to say.

Finally in 2010 when we moved, I began again, losing 50 lbs by my friend's April 2011 wedding, for which I was a bridesmaid.  Between then and January of this year I had gained 30 lbs of the 50 back.  WHAT?!  I had told myself last time that this WAS IT.  I could not keep doing this to myself.  All the hard work and sweat and sacrifice I made to get where I was, only to throw it away was too much to bear.  It was more unhealthy than just staying overweight yet steady I reasoned.  And yet.....and YET!  I stopped myself at the 30 this time, rather than gaining all 50+ some for good measure back.

In the past 14 months before this February I had just been walking my dog for exercise.  We take a .8 mile loop and I made it very brisk, thinking at least I could get some sort of cardio for me while having to do right by my dog.  In February, at my Dr visit I found from my yearly lab work that my HDL (good cholesterol) had gone up from 47 to 54.  My Dr was ecstatic and I was pretty surprised!  After all I wasn't actively working toward this goal, I was just simply walking my dog and making it brisk, and doing it daily.  She told me that the only way to move that number in that way was to MOVE, and not only that but it would have had to taken at least a year.  This gave me a bit of motivation, it was a great visit!

Two weeks before this visit, I began an exercise program called Turbo Jam.  It's a cardio program combining kick boxing, copeira, martial art and dance.  I had also begun eating good quality foods.  Not a "diet" per se, just what I know to be good quality foods.  Things like greek yogurt, almonds, walnuts, loads of raw veggies, some lightly steamed or stir-fried; fruit, lean meats, omega 3 rich salmon, tuna, eggs, olive oil, etc,..  Basically clean eating, and within my calorie range (need to find your resting metabolic rate for this)!  No refined sugar, very little processed food, not much bread or pasta.  I had learned a lot about nutrition in the past few years, regardless of my inability to make it all come together in times past.  It was working and my weight began it's decent.  I became so gung-ho in all of this, and on such a good roll that I decided to also do P90X while I was at it, quite a lofty attempt for someone of sedentary status!  

I've been at this now for 8 weeks and I've lost 26 lbs and 16-1/2" overall.  I just began Turbo Fire today.  I have got Turbo Jam down pat, and feel like it's time to up the intensity!  Turbo Fire will do just that.  It's such an intense and complete program.  I've seen people's transformations with this program and Insanity and they are amazing!  That is what I am after.  My 14th wedding anniversary is 4 months from now.  To motivate myself I scheduled a shoot with a local photographer for the two of us. I want to look as fit as possible so this helps me to "push play" when I may rather say,  "ohhhhh well one more day off won't hurt".  AS IF!

Don't kid yourself.  It WILL make a difference.  Why do some people make it and some continue to fail?  It's easy really.  The things that it take are really quite simple.  They are not earth shattering, if they were this whole thing would be a lot easier.   For instance, if not eating right or being sedentary would kill you in a day or in a week, or even a month I bet you'd be off that couch!!!  And away from that drive-thru.  NO?  It's the fact that it is a very subtle adding up that makes it so easy to not do.  It is as easy to not do as it is to do, and because we are so reward driven, we are likely to quit.  So how to be in the 5% that succeed?  Do the next thing, and do it again and again and in time it will be compounding interest and really add up!  Trust the process and perservere and you will realize your goals with eating well and fitness.  Before long you will be enjoying decreased clothing sizes, and increased energy and that will help you keep up with your efforts.

I have also managed to quit the coffee habit.  Now, I do not judge you or your coffee relationship, but for me and my particular nervous system it was not good and I knew it.  After two weeks of beginning Turbo Jam I just knew I had to try this meal replacement shake called Shakeology that my coach was raving about.  I used it at first as breakfast, then I still had a lunch and dinner along with two snacks.  It's only 150 calories and oh so chocolatey and yummy!  This shake is superior to any I have seen.  It's loaded with 70 healthy ingredients including protein, vitamins,  minerals, superfoods;  prebiotics, probiotics and digestive enzymes which are so important for gut health.  There are no fillers and sub par ingredients as other shakes out there.  I've done my research.  What's more is that I used to try to make my own superfood smoothies with some of the raw food movement's recipes.  And man let me tell ya, locating those ingredients was a feat in itself.  Sure, some I could get at Whole Foods, but some I had to get online, and boy did the price add up buying it!!!  Not only that, but they tasted gross no matter how much blue agave I put in...LOLOL  This Shakeology stuff really truly helped me.  I feel truly nourished for the first time, and content.  It also gave me energy to really be able to bring my all to each workout to get the most out of it.  It eliminated my cravings.  Oh sure, something may look good to me now or I may want for something but it is just a thought I can turn off.  It's no longer a  nagging, irresistable urge like it used to be.  I stick with the chocolate and never tire of it.  There are many different ways you can make it each day, it comes with a calendar of 30 different recipes but I make it the same way most times.  Now I use it as a post-workout snack many times, sometimes still as a breakfast, it all depends on the day and what time of the day I am working out.

I became a coach with Team Beachbody so that I could get a discount for my own products.  You know what I discovered?  This motivated me!  It wasn't long before people were drawn to me after having seen my posts, or heard my encouragement day after day in the workout groups and joined my team.   Sometimes people have an inactive coach and they are on their own trying to do this thing, and they are drawn to an active motivating person who's working really hard.  Having this happen, really truly motivated me because not only am I saving my own life, but I have people depending on me also now.  I take that very seriously.  I am active every single day, and answer messages within the day.  It's a whole system that works together to bring results.  I am very proud and honored to be involved with such a great company and to help "End the trend" of obesity.  It starts with me, and it starts with you.  What say you?  Are you ready to take the plunge?  Have you taken it but feel alone and could use some support?  I am going to give you the link to sign up for a FREE account which will give you instant access to message boards,  workout groups, nutrition info and me as your coach.

Sign up for your free account here

~Spring Shape Up~

Hello Friends!  I've missed you while I was away, yet grateful to be able to peek into your happenings at your addresses when I had the chance!  It was hard not having a computer at home, but now I have one yet again.  It is (ahem!) used and has its own issues, but for now it is mine.  :))  I plan to blog more regularly again.  I had been debating whether I should close down this blog and begin anew or just keep letting it change as I do, and I have settled on the latter, though I really like the name I had chosen for my  new blog!

Our tiny homestead is starting to take shape as Spring makes its way ever so slowly our way in Western New York.  My prince of a husband built me some raised beds, and after not having a garden for 2 years now, I am super happy and excited to get in the dirt once again and be able to produce some produce (hehe).  Talk about clean eating!!  I am dreaming of sun warmed tomatoes straight off the vine to my mouth.....I have begun some 72 seeds indoors, and plan to start at least another 72 this weekend.  I have many varieties of tomatoes, cukes, zucchini, summer squash, green beans, peas, eggplant, jalapenos, bell peppers, carrots and all manners of herbs.  I am DONE spending tons of money on these fresh herbs I'll tell ya.

Some of these seeds look very delicate, hope they make it ok!  How's your Spring shaping up?

Little House recipes I've found and collected

Ginger Water
idea from Little House book, a treat for when pa was out threshing hay in the extreme heat
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ginger (powdered)
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 quart water

Maple Candy:
  • 2 cups pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • saucepan (non-stick works best)
  • candy thermometer recommended
  1. Cook syrup over very low heat until it begins to boil, stirring frequently.
  2. Continue boil until it reaches 233°F on the candy thermometer.
  3. Remove from heat and cool for aproximately 60-70 minutes, or until the temperature on the candy thermometer reads about 110°F
  4. Add the vanilla extract and heat until smooth and fluffy.
  5. Shape this mixture into small patties, or while still warm you can pour onto pans of clean snow as Laura did. If you have no snow, you can blend ice cubes until they are crushed, then place crushed cubes into a pan before pouring the maple candy. You can also use candy molds.
  6. Maple candy must be stored in airtight containers to prevent the candy from drying out 
Vinegar Pie:
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 3 heaping tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. cold water
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 whole egg
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 6 tbsp. vinegar
  • 1 (9 inch) pie crust, baked
  1. Mix sugar and flour in saucepan.
  2. Add water, egg yolks (reserve egg whites), whole egg, butter and vinegar.
  3. Cook until thick.
  4. Pour into baked 9 inch pie shell.
For Meringue:
  1. Beat reserved egg whites until stiff.
  2. Add 4 tablespoons sugar, spread over pie.
  3. Brown meringue lightly. 

Heart-Shaped Christmas Cakes

"Mary and Laura pulled out two small packages. They unwrapped them, and each found a little heart-shaped cake. Over their delicate brown tops was sprinkled white sugar."
- Little House on the Prairie

Always ask permission from an adult before you begin cooking. Never cook by yourself.

You will need:
½ cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon vanilla
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
Flour for sprinkling
Granulated sugar for sprinkling

Measuring cup and spoons
Large mixing bowl
Mixing spoon
Floured board
Heart-shaped cookie cutter, about 2 or 3" across
Cookie sheet
Pot holder
Wide spatula
Wire rack

Heat the oven to 325%.

Beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla together until they are light and fluffy. Stir in the flour.

On a floured board, pat the dough out in a circle about 1/3" thick. Cut out shapes with the cookie cutter. Sprinkle the tops with granulated sugar. Put the heart shapes on the cookie sheet and bake them for about 15-20 minutes, until they are lightly browned. Take them out of the oven and sprinkle more granulated sugar on the tops. Carefully remove the cakes from the cookie sheet with the spatula and put them on the wire rack to cool.

Makes about 12 cakes.

Recipe taken from The Little House Treasury by Carolyn Strom Collins and Christina Wyss Erikson. 

Doughnuts, from The Little House Cookbook by Barbara M. Walker (Harper Collins, 1989)

For 2 dozen doughnuts you will need:
2 pounds lard (I will probably substitute peanut oil, my choice for frying)
1 egg
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
2¼ cups of unbleached all-purpose flour
a shaker full of powdered sugar
quart kettle
quart bowl
rolling pin
candy thermometer

Melt the lard in kettle over low heat. Beat egg, baking soda, and salt into the sour cream in the bowl. Beat in 1 cup of flour until well mixed. Continue to work in flour, ¼ cup at a time, until you have a dough that can be rolled. Roll the dough in a strip about 4 by 16 by ¼ inches. With a floured knife cut into inch strips about five eighth inch wide.
Heat the lard to 375 degrees F. Twist a strip like a corkscrew (it will stretch as you do); bring ends together and pinch them. Drop twisted dough in hot fat. In 2 minutes the dough should be brown on both sides, crisp and cooked through. If browning takes more than 3 minutes

, the fat is not hot enough; if browning takes less time, the fat is too hot.
Remove cooked doughnut to brown paper to drain and coat it with powdered sugar.  Continue twisting and cooking the remaining dough strips.  Roll some of these in cinnamon sugar and serve the doughnuts immediately.

 fun activities to go with the Little House book series

 Laura's Prairie House treasury of links

Little House Lesson Activities

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Gentleness Challenge

Join Courtney and the rest of us over at 
Women Living Well for The Gentleness Challenge for mom's.  I know this challenge is for me as I am not naturally a gentle person.  Yet....I want to be!  Isn't that half the battle?  Let me just say if you know you should, yet don't have the desire, pray for God to give you the desire.  Can you tell I've been there?  I have often snapped at my children or yelled in exhaustion or frustration only to feel bad about it moments later.  Can you relate?  Come on over and join us all as we strive together and sharpen one another toward godliness.

In relation to all of this, I have realized *again* that  I didn't see a lot of my reactions, trying to figure the ends out, changing course of plans etc,...for what it really was. Yesterday I heard a sound bite on the radio that made me again realize that I allow fear to torment me, yet I don't see it that way at the time. Logic and clever sounding excuses allow me to get around that which I am afraid of and I don't even realize that is root of these issues at the time.  That's a scary thought.  It's also something that could very well, and in fact does lead to lack of patience or anxiety which makes being a gentle mother a hard thing to grasp practically. 

Faith and perfect love cannot co-exist with fear.  I know this logically when I take the time to reflect on the issues.  *(note to self:  take the time to reflect!!!)  I am so done with living in fear. It is a torment, and doesn't change a thing for the better. Maybe for the worse, yes!!! God did not intend that for me, he gave me His son! His SON!!!!! Why would he withhold a lesser need from us when He has given us the most precious already? If He wants our kids for example to have something (such as musical training or other extra curricular things------one of the issues that had been nagging my mind BTW) then He will provide it. We can't lean on our own understanding. Perhaps it's not as important as it seems to me.  Perhaps there is a more important issue that needs to be worked on first before adding an activity that would allow less reflection time. We have to trust in Him, anything less is a big slap to the face with all He has done for us already. Scary thought! I am going to be more of an intentional
mother this year, it's so important.  I am going to try and look at the day at hand and stop worrying over the next.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Beatitudes For Homemakers

*Blessed is she whose daily tasks are a work of love; for her willing hands
  and happy heart transform duty into joyous service to all her family and God.
*Blessed is she who opens the door to welcome both stranger and well-loved friends;
  for gracious hospitality is a test of brotherly love.
*Blessed is she who mends both stockings and broken toys and broken hearts;
  for her understanding is a balm to her husband and children.
*Blessed is she who scours and scrubs; for well she knows that cleanliness is one expression of godliness.
*Blessed is she whom children love; for the love of a child is of greater value than fortune or fame.
*Blessed is she who sings in her work; for music lightens the heaviest load and brightens the dullest chore.
*Blessed is she who dusts away doubt and fear and sweeps all the cobwebs of confusion;
  for her faith will triumph over all adversity.
*Blessed is she who serves laughter and smiles with every meal;
  for her cheerfulness is an aid to mental and physical digestion.
*Blessed is she who introduces Jesus Christ to her children;
  for Godly sons and daughters shall be her reward.
*Blessed is she who preserves the sacredness of the Christian home;
  for hers is a divine trust that crowns her with dignity.

By Ella May Miller