Weight Loss Challenges

OK… I admit that I am back to being about 5 pounds less than when I first started in January.  That means that I’ve gained weight after all that hard work.  (Things have been so busy that I haven’t actually been consistently weighing myself.)  This is SOOOOO frustrating.   I’ve tried all different kinds of things.  What is going to work for me??  I have to find out.

Failure is NOT an option.  My goal weight MUST be reached by end of 2012.  I have a husband and children to think about so it’s important that Mommy be healthy, energetic, and able to keep up with everything.

I’ll make sure to be more faithful to weigh in and report.  That is what kept me so focused in the beginning.

Let’s say that this experience has helped me eliminate what is NOT effective.  Now on to finding out what will work for me and still be a life-style change I can incorporate into my life for the long-term.

So… here are my numbers and they’re not encouraging at all.

Original Goal:         78.6 pounds to lose
Week 17 Results:    Exactly 5 pounds less than when I began.

I should have lost 26.1 pounds by today.  Instead, I have gained back some of what I did lose.  So, this week I start something different.

Have a blessed day!  I know that I will, despite my news.

In Seven Words Only… Plus Some

I found a sight called Luminosity that helps you develop your brain, regardless of age.  I’ve found it to be quite helpful, actually.  It’s fun to see rather dramatic improvement as you take 10 minutes a day to work on it.  The following is a Facebook quote from Luminosity and I thought it might be a great start to a blog entry.  I challenge you to take the instructions below and write a blog about it.  (Be sure to link me to your blog so that I can read it, too.)

Here are the instructions from Luminosity:  Take a few minutes and describe your workday – in seven words only. This fun challenge won’t take very long to complete, but will break up your routine and give your brain a good intellectual “stretch.”  Now, my instructions:  Because this is obviously a blog it won’t end at seven words.  Your seven word description will be the headline to your article.  Take that topic and let us know what’s on your mind.

My day?

Lively experience with creative dynamo, age six.

We used to have a sweet child who was obedient and fairly well-behaved.  He never even went through the terrible twos.  Oh… we had the usual things that go on with children when they’re tired or too full of energy or curious about things.  You know… the things that make you smile or laugh when you’re supposed to be keeping a straight face and scold… things like:

  1. walking into the hall from the kitchen and finding a trail of talcum powder from Mommy’s bathroom down the hall, through the living room, down the other hall, into his bedroom
  2. walking into the kitchen and finding his face down in the cat water bowl, trying to drink like a “kitty cat”  (Somehow this one hit my funny bone and I laughed so hard my stomach hurt.  Me – between laughs:  “That didn’t taste very good, did it?”  Him – hesitantly hiding a smile, not sure if he was in trouble or whether he should laugh: “No…”  Me – still laughing:  “Now that we know what kitty cat water tastes like, let’s not do that anymore, OK?”  Him:  “Yeah, it was icky.”  Me:  “You know why?”  Him – now with amusement in his eyes because Mommy was laughing so hard:  “Why?”  Me:  “Cause the kitties backwash into the water when they drink.”  Him – running around the house:  “EEEEEEEEWWWWWWWW!”)
  3. suddenly noticing that it is too quiet and finding him in the bathroom with big eyes and a cute voice saying, “Mommy, look.  Great, big, big bandaids.  I put ’em on my boo boos.”
  4. going into our room to find him holding up an empty bottle of K-Y — his hair, face and arms gleaming with the contents of the bottle — proudly saying, “Look, Mommy.  Lotion!”

I could go on and on with amusing stories of his antics when he was little.  I’m sure we all have stories like that.  He was cute and sweet and incredibly adorable.

But, half-way through age 6 he suddenly started to assert his independence and creative ability to get into trouble.  How can I describe him now?  He’s a clown, loving to make people smile and laugh.  He’s got a fun personality, a bright mind, a fabulous sense of humor, an endless supply of silliness, a well-rounded vocabulary (for his age), a great deal of charm (lately often used for trying to get himself out of trouble), an abundance of energy, and curiosity about everything.

His “scientific mind” may wonder what would happen if he were to pour an entire, large bottle of mouthwash into the toilet.  Will the water also change colors?  Will the change be as dark as the mouth wash in the bottle or will it be diluted?  Will it make the toilet have a minty-fresh smell?   Someone told Mommy.  Uh, oh.  “MOMMY!  I love you!”   Result of taking something that doesn’t belong to him without permission (otherwise known in our house as stealing)?  He had to take his own money to the store with Mommy, pick up a replacement bottle, take it to the cashier, hand her his money (that he’s been saving for a remote control helicopter), and give the new bottle to the owner of the one he used.  Along with that… an apology.  Ouch!  But, a good lesson to learn now while the lessons are not so “costly”.

Mommy might come into the living room and the smell of after-shave is overpowering.  Uh oh.  “Mommy, I love you.”   Mmm, hmmm… another scientific experiment… take his brother’s aftershave and a roll of toilet paper and see what happens when you pour the entire contents of the bottle on the roll of toilet paper.  Yikes!  One thing that happens… you can’t hide the smell.   Another trip to the piggy bank, the store, and back home to give his brother a bottle of after-shave and an apology.  Result… now it’s going to take months to save up for the helicopter because we spent all of the money on scientific experiments using stuff that didn’t belong to us.   Lesson learned.  “I won’t do that again.”  Drama begins.  “Life is so sad.  I will NEVER get my helicopter.  My heart is broken beyond repair.”

Homeschooling allows me to be able to spend a lot of time with my Doodlebug.  I wouldn’t exchange a moment of it.  I love him with all my heart and am so blessed to have him in my life.  He makes me smile, laugh, and think.  He is incredibly loving and affectionate.  He learns quickly, brings life to the house, and is so much fun to watch.  I so enjoy seeing the light go on when he learns something special in school and connects it with other things he’s been learning.  I enjoy talking with him, listening to him, and spending time with him.

Time goes by so quickly and he’s growing.  Before I know it he’ll be 18 and 25 and 32…  So, I’m determined to make the most of my time with my little six-year-old dynamo.

Pizza Last Night – Cinnamon Rolls This Morning

Yesterday I posted a blog entry that talked about our family night and homemade pizza.  It was so good.

I complain a lot about my camera, but I have to make do for now.  Below are pictures on the final results.  The color is off on one (with orange tones) even though all three pictures were taken under the same light and both the pizzas were on the same cutting board.  I can’t figure out why my little camera does this.  But, despite the pictures, the pizza was delicious.

This one was for my youngest son.  (Of course it was way too big for him and we had leftovers, but he loved having his own pizza that was different from the rest of us.)  We put pizza sauce, pepperoni and mozzarella cheese on his.  That’s all he wanted.  He sat there watching a show with us and eating like he thought it was the best thing ever.

(I haven’t gotten the hang of hand-tossing pizza dough so I roll it out and press it into shape using both hands.  My left hand slightly holds on while I stretch the dough out with my right.  Then I turn the dough slightly and do it again until there are no thick sections.  My pizzas are always rustic looking.  But, I actually like them like that.)

This one had a thicker crust than I intended.  I put the dough onto a cookie sheet.  While the other one was baking, this dough was continuing to rise.  So, it had quite a thick crust.  I hadn’t gone shopping so whatever we had in the house was what we were going to use.

With pizza sauce as the base, I layered on sausage that I had cooked into large crumbles and drained, pepperoni that hadn’t been used during the last pizza experiment, onions, green peppers and grape tomatoes cut in half.  Then I put mozzarella cheese all over the top.

My husband said it was the best pizza I’d made so far. The thing I love about homemade pizza is that you can experiment and put whatever you want on it… and it’s a fun thing for your kids to help with, especially if they’re making their own personal pizza.

We had leftover pizza dough.  Instead of wrapping it tightly in plastic wrap, putting it in a freezer bag and freezing like I usually do, I decided to make cinnamon rolls for Saturday morning breakfast.

I formed the dough into a log to make it easier to get a rectangle shape then rolled it into a rectangle.  Again, I hadn’t gone shopping and was completely out of nuts.  So, I just spread butter on the rolled out dough and sprinkled brown sugar and cinnamon over the entire surface.  After rolling it up and cutting it into 8 pieces, I put it into a buttered 9″ pie dish, put another pie dish on top and “tied” the two together by wrapping the dishes up tightly in plastic wrap.   (Using the second pie dish on top gives plenty of room for rising while keeping it moist enough between the pie pans that the dough doesn’t dry out.)  It went into the fridge to rise very slowly overnight.

My husband got up earlier than I did and took it out of the fridge to get it to room temperature then turned the oven on to 350° F.  While the oven was heating up, the cinnamon rolls started rising at room temperature.  By the time I got up, all I had to do was pop them into the oven for 20 minutes.  (Of course, I’m not a morning person and my brain wasn’t fully awake so I didn’t get a picture of the baked rolls.)

The house smelled heavenly this morning!!  We all sat down and enjoyed cinnamon rolls for breakfast with really no more effort than it took to make pizza dough for dinner last night.   (And yes, I know.  I likely blew my weight loss attempts this week.)

I didn’t know what kind of cinnamon rolls the pizza dough would make.  It turns out that when quickly cooked in an oven at high temperature as a pizza, the texture of this dough is just slightly chewy.  But, when cooked at a lower temperature for a little longer, it is very tender and soft.

My son said they were delicious and my husband called them “bodacious”.  Both had seconds.  I love nuts, so the next time I do this I’ll make sure to go shopping.  They will have chopped pecans in them.

I really encourage you to experiment and try different things.  You may be surprised at how fun it is and how many delicious things you can come up with yourself.  (Don’t forget to click on the link in last night’s Family Night blog entry to get the pizza dough recipe.)

Have a blessed day!


Family Night Tonight!

Friday nights are Family Night at our house.   Tonight we’re having homemade pizza.

We live in the country outside a small Southern town.  When I say small, no it’s not a one-light town, but it is small.  (The membership of the church I used to attend on the West Coast was about the same size as the population of our town.)  However, we still have a number of pizza places.  On the Food Network they talk about getting pizza dough from your local pizzeria.  I’m assuming that they mean in the big city where you may have a pizza place that isn’t a chain and that makes fresh dough every day.  I drove around our town and visited every pizza place.  Not one of them will sell pizza dough.

That night I went to the grocery store and bought Pillsbury pizza dough.  It was as I thought it would be… just OK.  (Sorry, Pillsbury.  It’s great in a pinch, but it doesn’t have the texture and flavor of a good pizzaria dough.)  I started looking for and trying recipes.  After many attempts (most of them also just OK) I finally found a recipe that my boys really, really like.

Check out Jamie Oliver’s Pizza Dough Recipe on the food Network! (This picture is from that site.) I found it in March and have been making it every time we have pizza ever since.  (In fact, each week my boys are now asking if we can have pizza for Family Night.)

Something to keep in mind:  I don’t suggest piling the flour on the counter, making a well, and pouring the liquid in the well the way the recipe suggests.  I tried that the first time around and had a leak in the flour dam… the liquid lake overflowed and started spreading all over the counter, to my youngest son’s delight.  (He was laughing and jumping around having a great time watching.)  I couldn’t swoosh it back to the flour fast enough, but finally got control by quickly spreading the flour over top of the rivers of liquid.  Ever since then when I make it I put everything in a bowl and mix it with a wooden spoon until it’s ready to be kneaded.  Then I dump it onto a floured surface and start kneading.  It’s not as much fun for a 6-year-old to watch, though.

In reality, the recipe makes a bunch of small personal pizzas or about 4 medium-sized regular crust (as opposed to about 6 thin crust) pizzas.  It’s great for parties.  If you are cooking just for family, you can take half the dough, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, put it in a freezer bag and freeze it for the next time.   Then all you need to do is pull it from the freezer, let it defrost, punch it down and make your pizzas.  When we do the personal pizzas, the boys can come and put whatever they want on their crust after I’ve shaped it.  They like that.

My boys and husband LOVE home made pizzas now.  (We don’t do “take-out” anymore.  Of course, we would if I didn’t have time to make the pizza dough.)  But, when you make it at home, you can make any kind of pizza you want!

I didn’t go grocery shopping so have to use what I have in the house.  Tonight I think it’s going to be sausage, green pepper, and onion.   Unless we want something unusual like red cabbage or sour kraut (!!?!!), I don’t have other pizza ingredients.

You all have a blessed evening.  We’re going to enjoy each other’s company, eat homemade pizza, and enjoy a family movie together.


Update:  05-01-2012

Here are some blogs with pizza ideas (all of them outside the norm when it comes to pizza):

My Fancy PantryCaramelized Onion, Purple Potato and Pistachio Pizza
Spices & Spackle:  Salad Pizza
A Brand New Season:  Pita Pizza
Cupcakes & Couscous:  Veggie Pizza on Portobello Mushroom Cap Crust


Super Foods For Weight Loss

Blueberries. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As of today I should have lost a total of 23.1 pounds.  I’m way behind.  It’s time for a new perspective on foods and dieting.

When I decided that I wouldn’t do any more fad diets because all I do is lose and then gain it all back (plus some) every time I try, I wasn’t kidding.  It seems to me that there must be a way to lose weight without cutting calories to 1,200 (and completely avoiding anything I enjoy) or exercising 5 hours a day or eating crazy things or taking pills or paying bunches of money to sprinkle stuff on my food so that I won’t feel like eating it.  According to the calorie counter, I have to eat 1,200 calories each and every day between now and December 31 in order to reach my goal.  No.

This morning I was reading “Super Foods for Weight Loss” at Health.com.  It seems that there are certain foods that I need to incorporate into my diet.  The following are foods that they said would kick up your weight loss.

Beans:  black beans, kidney beans, lentils, garbanzo beans

Grains:  oats, brown rice, pearl barley, quinoa

Fruits:  avocado, blueberries, pears, grape fruit, bananas, plantains

Fish:  salmon (wild Alaskan)

Vegetables:  broccoli, potatoes

Nuts:  almonds, pine nuts

Drinks: red wine (or grape juice with resveratrol), green tea

Other: Eggs, dark chocolate, cheese (in particular feta and goat cheese), and low fat milk are also included in the list.

OK… so here comes the change in perspective.

OLD PERSPECTIVE/NEW PERSPECTIVE (At least I can try it and see what happens with my weight)

Beans:  I avoid beans (as much as possible) for obvious reasons (although I do enjoy lentil stew on occasion).

If I eat them enough, my body will get used to them… or Beano can become my best friend.

Grains:  I have huge containers of  various kinds of grains… but they’re a pain in the… well, they’re a pain to make and whole grains are not my family’s favorite foods.

A while back when I was thinking of getting on a health kick I bought all kings of whole grains, including quinoa (which is not really a grain).  Since they’re there, I need to start using them and finding ways to prepare them.  I enjoy cooking and baking, why not experiment with these grains.

Fruits:  I absolutely love fruit, but never thought of plantains and avocado as fruit since they aren’t sweet.  I have to sweeten plaintain by cooking with butter and brown sugar.

Look up ways to make plantains that don’t include frying in butter and sugar.  Why not try it?  Find creative ways to use avocado.

Fish:  Wild Alaskan Salmon isn’t exactly inexpensive.

My family likes it. If it’s good for us, why not spend that little bit extra and make it more often.  Find ways to make it that are creative.

Vegetables:  I love broccoli and potatoes.  But, I read that potatoes are not as healthy as sweet potatoes so we use sweet potatoes more often.

Find healthy ways to prepare potatoes, keep servings small, and enjoy.

Nuts:  Well… I love them, but don’t eat them often because of the fat content.

They contain a healthy kind of fat.  Small servings are good for me.  Eat them!

Drinks:  I don’t care for red wine.  Grape juice has too much sugar.  Green tea is not my favorite.

I don’t care for red wine.  Grape juice has too much sugar (even the specialty ones that have high levels of reversatrol).  Get used to green tea.  It’s good for you.

Other:  I avoid eating eggs (for the most part) because of cholesterol concerns.  I honestly have never thought of chocolate as a diet food.  I never thought of cheese as a diet food.   I drink low fat milk, but not often.

Eat eggs.  New research shows that they don’t give you higher cholesterol.  Get some dark chocolate and eat one little piece every day.  Enjoy feta and goat cheese… heavens knows the hubby and boys won’t eat it.  It will be all mine! Drink more milk… at least 2 eight ounce glasses every day.

OK… so here we go.  This week I will be incorporating these foods into our diet and finding interesting and creative ways to enjoy them.  Let’s see if they help me lose some weight.

Have a blessed week!

Traveling From Home – France (part 1)

Last week was rather busy so I didn’t get a chance to work all of the stuff we wanted to study about France into our homeschool schedule.  Today’s report will be very short.  I’ll continue on Friday with the fun, unusual and interesting things that we’ve learned about France.  And, to be honest, we’ll only be scratching the surface because there is a vast array of things to do and things to learn.  It’s impossible to cover everything in one or two weeks.  But, what we have learned and experienced was great!

We had an absolutely faabulous French meal on Friday evening: Filet Mignon aux Oignons and Gratin Dauphinois.  My camera batteries went dead at the wrong time.  So, I don’t have pictures of my own.  (But, I am that much closer to a decision to get a different camera!)  This, it turns out, is simply a fancy name for the French version of pork roast (the nicest cut) with scalloped potatoes.

I found the recipe for the pork Filet Mignon aux Oignons at French Food Cook.  To be honest, I didn’t follow the recipe precisely.  French cooking includes not only ingredients, but cooking techniques that make it uniquely French.   So, my version is likely not to be considered fully French.

First, I didn’t mince the onions.  Instead, I cut them in half and then sliced them up.  (My husband loves cooked onions so I just left them with a little more shape.)

Second, I didn’t use wine.  I used chicken broth as the cooking liquid.

Third, I put the whole thing into the oven (covered) and baked it until it was tender rather than cooking it on top of the stove.

Result?  This was one of the most flavorful and delicious pork roasts that I have ever put in my mouth.  It was large enough that we had plenty of leftovers to eat again.  (The combination of salt, pepper, onions, chicken broth and juices from the pork made an absolutely amazing, flavorful au jus.)

Gratin Dauphinois
Gratin Dauphinois (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Gratin Dauphinois was tasty and different from any potato dish we had eaten.  I used nutmeg that I freshly ground (as opposed to bottled, pre-ground nutmeg) over each layer as the recipe stated.  Nutmeg is what gave it a unique flavor.  The recipe called for single cream.  Not knowing what that is, but figuring that I was on the right track, I used light cream.

(Our family is used to scalloped potatoes.  This, although it looked like scalloped potatoes, was very different both in flavor and preparation.  It was much easier and less time consuming to prepare.)

So, as we go on with this week we’ll learn some more about France.  Some time during the week I intend to make a dessert recipe I found at French Food Cook called Berries Cake.

Avoir une semaine merveilleuse!

Uh Oh! I’ve Done It To Myself!

Since we’re homeschooling, I want to make sure that my youngest son has plenty of opportunity to play with other kids.

Well…  It’s Spring.  The County Parks & Recreation Department has all kinds of fun things lined up for which we can sign up, pay, and then play.  The insidious part of the plan is to make parents who haven’t organized their calendars sign up and pay for as many things as possible.  (OK… so a reality check reminds me that this was my problem, not theirs.)

I signed my 6 year old son up for Tae Kwon Do.  He LOVES it.  He obviously started as a beginner and had to earn his white suit and white belt.  He’s excited about working toward his yellow belt now.  There are adults and children together in this class… mostly children.  And my son is the second smallest person in the class.  He’s doing a fantastic job!  (The tiniest guy is 5 and is a real cutie who has already earned his yellow belt.  He’s participated in competitions in the Pee Wee division and has done well for himself.)

I even started thinking about whether I should sign up after seeing a few other adults in the class… at levels from white all the way to black belt.  (Also, there are two other mother/son participants and one father has also joined his wife and son.)  My Doodlebug is rather pleased with the idea that he can practice with me and teach me what he’s learned.  But, I haven’t revved up enough nerve to actually join the class yet.  (He’s been doing it for 6 weeks now.)

They do warm ups (stretches, crunches, push ups, etc.) before starting.  So, when I got back home the first day I decided to do warm-ups just to see if I could do them without looking like a fool.  (Ahhh… the ego of adults.  Or, is it just the ego of me?)  I could bend over as far as the teacher with my arms folded and elbows way down by my shins.  I could do all of the stretches fairly well.  Then I tried push-ups.  Ummmm…..  well….. I got down, but couldn’t push back up again.  So, I tried to do the women’s kind (from my knees).  I got down and back up once but had no control going back down again.  And up a second time?  My arm muscles said, “Forget it!”  (Sigh)   My legs are strong, I can walk for long distances and even run for spurts, I can play games with my son and chase him around… I can even pick him up still (he’s now 63 pounds, even though he doesn’t look it) and swing him around.  At our property I was picking up very large rocks (foundation stones from old log buildings we had taken down) and working on building a wall for a flower bed (which included lots of squatting, bending, lifting, moving).  But, I obviously have to make a huge effort to work on my arm strength.  Maybe I’ll do that for a while before embarrassing my son by joining the class and burying my face in the gym floor.

This past week they were learning the techniques of breaking wood for the first time.  My 6 year old broke wood – one piece with his arm the first try and one piece with a kick the first try.  No fear… just following instructions with intensity and focus.   (At $5 for three pieces that went pretty fast.  The instructor brought the third piece to me for him to use the next time they did wood breaking.)

Well, we had such a good experience with Tae Kwon Do (which will be ongoing each month) that we decided to sign him up for T-ball.  He’s never played before.  Just after that the Parks and Recreations Department put out a new schedule which included tennis for 5 – 7 year olds.  My son has been wanting to learn tennis so badly that he likes to watch it on TV.  For Christmas we bought him a kids’ tennis racket (as did his aunt… so he has two now).   As soon as I saw tennis on the schedule, I signed him up.

Then I went to put everything on the calendar.  OH MY GOODNESS!!!!!   There is some activity (and in some cases more than one) every single day of the week except Friday and Sunday.

In my enthusiasm (signing him up when I wasn’t at home looking at the calendar on my computer — I really need one of these fancy phones that synchronizes my email and calendar so that I see it no matter where I am) I just added a minimum of 1 1/2 hours to my daily schedule.  Some days as much as 3 hours.  My son has TONS of energy and can handle going from Tae Kwon Do or tennis to t-ball practice or games.  But, for me the next 2 1/2 month schedule is crazy.

We live in the country.  I have to drive him to various places for each of these so not only does he have 1 – 2 activities each day, they’re at different locations.  He’s excited.  But, it just hit me this morning what I really did to myself and my schedule.