Thursday, August 30, 2012

Thankful Thursday

I'm back, after a very unintentional hiatus. School has started back and I have an INCREDIBLE class (yay!), but I'm still working to get to the point where my head is above water. I'm not there yet...maybe soon!

Today I am thankful for...
  • the good Lord and His endless love, mercy, grace, wisdom, and patience
  • my family and friends
  • my health, and the health of my loved ones
  • my job, my incredible coworkers, our lovely building, and the fabulous little people I get to spend my days with...I can't describe how much I adore my new class
  • a long weekend coming up
  • clean running water, food in my fridge, a roof over my head, a lovely bed to sleep in, shoes on my feet, clothes in my closet, hot showers and the feeling of being clean
  • my aching feet and legs, because that means I have them
  • the complete and utter exhaustion that has come over me this week, because it means I'm giving all I can to my students
  • a brain that remembers everything I stuff in it, eyes that see, ears that hear, hands and arms that do exactly what I need them to do
  • a long weekend coming up
  • payday tomorrow!
  • all the growing and learning I've done in the last 365 days; I hope to keep growing and learning and to never get back to that place
  • clarity and contentment (working on that one each and every day!)
  • the kickoff of Auburn's football season in TWO days...War Eagle, friends!!!!
  • some really, truly dependable people who swoop in around me when I'm feeling discouraged
  • thoughtfulness...have you done something thoughtful for someone today? If not, get after it!
  • a long weekend coming up
  • getting to tutor an adult learner every week...I've gotten past the nerves and look forward to it every single week...such a blessing to me!
  • early bedtimes...if being in bed by 8:30 is wrong, I sure don't wanna be right
  • the fact that, unlike this time last year, I don't look like Garth Brooks
  • funny church marquee sayings
  • a few chances coming up to celebrate my brother and sister-in-law-to-be...I love them like crazy and I'm so excited for them!
  • the fact that Hurricane Isaac wasn't any worse than it has been...I know the flooding is a huge bummer, but at least it seems like that's all it will be...prayers to those who are in the path
  • my Brita pitcher
  • my commitment to wearing a dress or skirt every day this far, so good...and SO much more comfortable in the 1,000% humidity than pants
  • vitamin C
  • my computer
  • emails and texts that make me smile
  • blog friends who still love me when I disappear for weeks at a time
  • a chance to sit and rest and just BE this weekend...very much-needed...praise the Lord!
  • a long weekend coming up
  • this song, which has earned lots of playtime in my world this week...(Kate, I'm so sorry if this makes you want to pour bleach in your ears. I know you despise Sugarland and I'm not a huge fan myself, but I do like this song. You're gonna have to build a bridge, sweet girl!)


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Whole30 recap

My Whole30 adventure wrapped itself up on Sunday, and I've got lots to share! Thanks so much for all the support, well-wishes, and love during this journey. It means so much to me!

After navigating through the first few "give me carbs before I kill you" days, I really felt the best I have in a long time. I had more energy, and I felt stronger, lighter, and bloat-free. You know how you sometimes feel like you're stuffed to the gills when you eat a carb-heavy meal? I never, ever felt like that when I stuck to meat and veggies. It was much easier to stop eating right before I was completely full. That was a nice surprise! I also noticed that I was better able to concentrate, I felt more productive, and I slept really well. The purpose of this challenge is not to lose weight, but it was a welcome side effect for me :) Over the course of 30 days, I lost 14 pounds...without anything but walking for exercise. This has also completely changed the way I look at food, eating, and preparing meals. I really, really don't miss many of the foods I used to eat, and I'm actually still eating mostly Whole30-approved foods.

I highly recommend the Whole30. I also recommend jumping in absolutely head-first cold turkey. There's no way you'll be successful on this plan if you "ease yourself in" or allow cheats. No way at all. It's only 30 days. Suck it up, buttercup!

Helpful hints:
  • Have a blender handy. Mine got a near-daily workout.
  • You'll be washing lots of dishes. Ready yourself...or your dishwasher.
  • Eat plenty of protein and good fats (avocados, olive oil, nuts). This will keep you from being hungry an hour after you eat.
  • Use lots of spices to jazz up your veggies. My faves were cinnamon, onion powder, salt, and red pepper flakes.
  • Try the Cinnamon Steak. And the Avocado Chicken Salad. And the Ropa Vieja. You won't be sorry.
  • Find and make lots of new recipes. It'll keep you from getting bored.
  • Eat way more veggies than fruit. Fruit is really good for you, but it's gots the sugar. And sugar is sugar, no matter where it comes from.
  • Figure out a way to enjoy the large amount of food prep that goes along with this. You'll be spending a lot of time in the kitchen, so you might as well get a kick out of it!
  • Do your homework before going out to eat. Chipotle was my go-to place during my adventure. I honestly think it's just easier to not eat out while you're eating this way. It may not be fun, but at least you know exactly what you're eating if you prepare it at home!
  • Plan your meals ahead of time. I literally planned out all of my breakfasts, lunches, suppers, and snacks for a week. It made me feel more confident to know exactly what I was going to eat and when, and it took away the fear of that "Oh no, it's time to eat and I'm ravenous and the only thing available is deep-fried mac and cheese with donuts on top!" moment. Not that that moment ever happened, mind you, but it could. Gotta use your noggin. 
  • Keep a journal detailing what you ate and how you felt. That's what I did through my blog. It was interesting to see what I had eaten on the days I didn't feel great. That helped me to make quick and easy changes.
I'm planning to not stray too far from this way of eating in the future.  I have eaten a few non-Whole30 foods this week, and while I haven't gotten sick, I don't feel as light and bouncy as I did during my challenge. I need to get back on track! If you have any questions, PLEASE let me know. I'd love to talk you through all of this. And if you decide to dive in, I'll be there to talk you off the ledge when the fried rice cravings push you to the brink :)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful for...

  • the good Lord and His never-ending grace
  • my family and friends
  • my health, and the health of my loved ones
  • one last, precious weekend of summer break
  • a wonderful job to return to next week
  • new kiddos headed to my classroom in two weeks!
  • a roof over my head, shoes on my feet, clothes in my closet, food in my fridge, clean running water available any time I want it, a dependable car, electricity, internet, my dishwasher, my phone, enough money to take care of my needs (and every now and then, my wants)
  • the decision to tackle the Whole30
  • a very fun dinner out with Sasha tonight...much-needed, and I'm already looking forward to our next "date night"
  • FriendshipFest'12 right around the corner!!! Excited for a weekend with my friends!
  • a fun, very quick trip to Atlanta with my Mimi at the beginning of the week...this will get its own post soon
  • getting to visit with Cousin Jerry while in Atlanta...he's one of my favorite people on the planet, and I'm so very proud of him
  • the fact that Bub and Olivia were able to find a new venue for their reception after their first one cancelled on them...two months before the wedding...yikes
  • friends that share their joys and their heartaches with me...thinking of you, sweet friend (you know who you are)
  • a comfortable bed to climb in at the end of a long day
  • my Brita pitcher
  • the two tutoring sessions I have under my belt...I never would've guessed how much I would like teaching adults, but I just LOVE it and am already looking forward to next week!
  • clarity and insight
  • summer break
  • an interview for a dear friend tomorrow...I know she'd love some prayers at about 10:00 AM tomorrow!
  • the way the good Lord is moving and shaking in my life these days
  • some reminders to get out of the way and let Him drive :)
  • taking a lunch break in my classroom with Lauren today...I think she's pretty awesome
  • a brain that works like it's supposed to
  • arms and legs that can handle doing what I need to do every day
  • hears that hear, eyes that see, a nose that smells
  • contentment that grows every day
  • summer break, for just a little while longer :)


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Whole30 : Day 22 - 26

Day 22 (8/4):
  • breakfast -- scrambled eggs (1 whole, 2 whites) with spinach and cherry tomatoes, one peach
  • lunch -- Avocado Chicken Salad
  • snack -- four baby carrots (not very hungry)
  • supper -- Ropa Vieja (made it without the cauliflower "rice") with wilted spinach, one peach
Day 23 (8/5):
  • breakfast -- leftover Ropa Vieja with wilted spinach
  • lunch -- family Sunday lunch...steak salad (greens, grilled steak, squash, sliced tomato, homemade red wine vinaigrette), watermelon
  • supper -- leftover Avocado Chicken Salad
Day 24 (8/6):
Day 25 (8/7):
  • breakfast -- Justin's Almond Butter and a Cherry Pie Larabar (This was to avoid having to eat the hotel's continental breakfast. I didn't see anything that fit in my guidelines, so I improvised.)
  • lunch -- grilled chicken breast with pico de gallo and steamed green beans from Lone Star
  • snack -- watermelon
  • supper -- leftover Ropa Vieja with wilted spinach
Day 26 (8/8):
  • breakfast -- scrambled eggs with spinach, baby tomatoes, and baby carrots
  • lunch -- leftover grilled chicken from Lone Star, sliced tomato, watermelon
  • snack -- two handfuls of walnuts/almonds
  • supper -- leftover Ropa Vieja with wilted spinach, one peach

I can't believe I've only got four more days left!! Day 24 and 25 were a bit tough, only because I was out of town. I took a quick, very fun trip to Atlanta with my Mimi, and we did most of our eating at restaurants. Eating out is the only time I feel a bit of despair over my Whole30 commitment. Sometimes it's hard to find meals that you can eat, and even if the description sounds Whole30 compliant, you have no idea how it's being prepared. That led me to some salads with no dressing. Not my favorite in the whole world, but you do what ya gotta do!

The Ropa Vieja is seriously tasty. My only complaint is that the cut of meat called for in the recipe produced more fat at the end than I enjoy eating. I was able to skim much of it off, but I'm going to research leaner cuts of beef that would still work with the recipe. I did LOVE that it's made in the Crockpot. That'll be perfect for when I start work again ( week).

I would like to try the cauliflower "rice" that's part of PaleOMG's Ropa Vieja post, but I couldn't find any fresh cauliflower. I'm thinking that's more of a fall/winter veggie.

I'm still feeling GREAT and I'm actually planning to not stray far from my Whole30 lifestyle when my 30 days are over. I plan to allow myself a few "cheats" every now and then, but I feel so good and don't want to undo all my hard work! Four more days :)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Update : Operation Death, Destruction, Gloom, and Doom

I posted Sunday about being completely, totally overrun with ants. Okay, "completely, totally overrun" is a bit dramatic. But I did have ants, and I wanted them gone.

I'm here to report that the Borax/jelly worked like a charm! I set the little baits out Sunday night, went out of town yesterday, and returned today to an ant-free home. Yay! I'm going to put out fresh ones tonight to kill any hardy little survivors, but I'm feeling pretty optimistic that this idea is a keeper. Thanks a bunch, Make It Do!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Death and destruction

I have ants in my kitchen. I don't want them in my kitchen, or in any spot in my little home. Enter: Operation Death, Destruction, Gloom, and Doom. They are industrious, admirable little boogers, but now that they've taken up in my home, they must die. I try really hard not to use toxic chemicals unless absolutely necessary, so I'm trying something natural.

I mixed strawberry jelly and Borax (which comes in WAY handy for cleaning...get some at your earliest convenience) and spread the poisoned goodness on pieces of an index card. Then I sat back and watched while this happened:

And then I did this:

Those ants are positively drunk on strawberry jelly right now. I hope I put in enough Borax and I'm not just providing them a super tasty strawberry dessert! I also hope that it doesn't attract any of those nastier, less industrious, more repulsive creatures whose name starts with an "r" and ends with an "oach". I'd rather keep the ants as pets if that's my other option.

I also spread a little line of Borax out on the counter in hopes that the ants will think it's sugar and will cart it back to their friends and families. Bwahahahahahahaha!

Oh, and I got the idea from Make It Do. She has a really, really great DIY blog if that's your cup of tea.

I'll keep you posted on Operation DDG&D...

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Whole30 : Days 18, 19, 20, & 21

Day 18 (7/31):

  • breakfast -- scrambled eggs (1 whole egg, 1 egg white) with wilted spinach, handful of walnuts
  • lunch -- Protein Power Plate from Zoe's (There was some feta cheese in the slaw, so I just picked it out.)
  • snack -- baby carrots
  • supper -- Rosemary Lemon Chicken, sliced tomato, Cherry Pie Larabar
The Rosemary Lemon Chicken was simple and tasty. I didn't have rosemary but I did have Italian seasoning, so I just substituted that. I also must add that the Cherry Pie Larabar is ridiculously good. It is by far the yummiest Larabar I've tried!

Day 19 (8/1):
  • breakfast -- green smoothie
  • lunch -- leftover Rosemary Lemon Chicken, sliced tomato, baby carrots
  • snack -- Justin's Almond Butter (Yup. Straight from the packet.)
  • supper -- Avocado Chicken Salad with leftover green beans
Great day! The Avocado Chicken Salad is a creation from my own little brain. I think it's super tasty. If you try it, let me know what you think!

Avocado Chicken Salad
*2 ripe, soft avocados (Mine were not nearly ripe enough to mash, but they still worked fine.)
*cooked, shredded chicken (I used a package of boneless, skinless breasts.)
*1/2 red bell pepper, diced (Any crunchy vegetable would be a great substitute.)
*2-3 handfuls chopped walnuts
*drizzle of olive oil
*lime juice (from 1-2 limes, depending on your taste)
*seasonings (I used a sprinkle of salt, some onion powder, and a generous few shakes of red pepper flakes.)

Mash avocados, if they're ripe enough to mash. If not, just chop them up. Mix in everything else. Season to taste. Done!

Day 20 (8/2):
  • breakfast -- scrambled eggs (1 whole egg, 2 egg whites) with 1/4 red bell pepper sauteed in the same pan
  • lunch -- leftover Avocado Chicken Salad, watermelon
  • snack -- Pecan Pie Larabar (yum)
  • supper -- leftover Rosemary Lemon Chicken, sliced tomato, roasted carrots
Awesome day. Ten more to go!

Day 21 (8/3):
  • breakfast -- leftover Rosemary Lemon Chicken, leftover roasted carrots, handful of walnuts (Yep, this was my breakfast. I'm trying to eat up the food I have before I make a grocery store trip and I'm just the one to eat it!)
  • lunch -- scrambled eggs with spinach and red bell pepper, the last two spoonfuls of Avocado Chicken Salad, the last 5 roasted carrots (Aren't hodgepodge meals the best?)
  • snack -- Justin's Almond Butter
  • supper -- Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich from Rojo (minus the bun and, uh, the cheese) and a fruit cup, not a drop of anything to drink but water :) at Tin Roof 
FUN night out with lifelong friends. It's really nice to still be friends with people who've known you for 23 of your 27 years on Earth. It's also getting easier to go out on the town and stick to the Whole30. It doesn't bother me now to sip on water while everyone else enjoys an adult beverage or two. I'm proud of myself for sticking with it, even with temptation around every corner! Eight more days...

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful for...

  • the good Lord, and the endless patience He has with me
  • my family and friends
  • my health, and the health of my loved ones
  • the decision to embark on a Whole30 adventure for myself...I feel incredible and am so happy I'm doing this!
  • quite a bit of rain this week
  • a roof over my head to get me out of the rain, a dependable car with dependable windshield wipers, food in my fridge, clean running water available whenever I want it, clothes in my closet, shoes on my feet, enough money to take care of my needs and a few wants every now and then
  • umbrellas and rain boots
  • summer break, and the fact that I have about nine glorious days left
  • a great job to return to after those nine days are over
  • the new schoolbabies I have the honor of teaching...I have a feeling this is going to be an incredible year!
  • a lovely birthday celebration on Sunday/Monday, and the fact that my family loves me enough to make it a special day for me
  • a sweet phone call and a hysterical YouTube video from Cousin Jerry on my him
  • getting to take my name off the Downton Abbey: Season 2 waiting list at the library...Mom and Daddy gave it to me as one of my birthday presents, and I took great joy in taking my name off the ever-growing waiting list!
  • trips to the library
  • trips to the farmers market
  • Chilton county peaches
  • fun plans with old friends tomorrow
  • an upcoming girls' getaway with my sweet Mimi
  • FriendshipFest'12 right around the corner...can't wait to see my buds!
  • summer break
  • being able to muster up the courage Tuesday to walk into the literacy office to tutor...I was very nervous, but it went really well. I loved it and can't wait to go back!
  • electricity, and being reminded of this when my grand plans to get my classroom finished today were foiled by an hours-long power outage...drats
  • my Auburn family (aka, the Buggs) and the fact that Mama Kathy is celebrating a special birthday today! Happy birthday, Mama Kathy! I hope you know how much you are loved.
  • kind words and encouragement, and people who take the time to share those things
  • legs and arms that do what they're supposed to do
  • the ability to hear, see, smell, feel, and taste
  • a fully-functioning brain
  • 30 days until college football season kicks off!!
  • my phone
  • the Summer Olympics, even though I keep stumbling upon spoilers everywhere I turn...grrr
  • the adorable new shoes I found on the clearance shelf at Target today
  • a nice little visit with Mr. Steele while I was at my parents' house for my birthday...that deserves its own post
  • summer break

HAPPY WEEKEND, yall! Get out there and do something with it.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A numbered list

When my brain thinks, it often thinks in numbered lists. Does anybody else's brain do that? I sure hope so.

1. I had a lovely birthday spent with my family. So blessed!

2. Everybody willingly ate my Whole30-friendly birthday supper. Thanks, fam!

3. One of my favorite parts of my birthday supper was my Bubba singing his own special, very high-pitched version of the birthday song while everybody else sang the normal version. Bless him. A priceless moment that still makes me giggle.

4. I wanted to take a family picture, so I propped my camera up on the TV and used the timer. The first picture was absolutely hideous. This one would be perfection, only it looks like it was taken in 1982. Not sure why my camera did that, but the picture makes me smile. I love these cool kids.

5. Every two years, the Olympics make my world go 'round. The Winter Olympics are always fun, but the Summer Olympics make me especially happy.

6. You know what's a bummer? When you're really, really excited about watching the USA women's gymnastics team compete in the team final, and you find out the results on facebook hours before the competition airs on TV. That makes me very grumpy. Anyway, I'm very proud of Team USA's gold medal!

7. I feel very sad for the athletes when they don't do well, especially on such a worldwide stage.

8. I used to want to be an Olympic gymnast. Or a figure skater...I would've been happy with either one. Don't mind the fact that I have no talent in either sport. I was gonna win that gold medal! Maybe it's not too late...

9. I went to tutor for the first time yesterday. I was very nervous about tutoring an adult versus teaching a child, but I loved it. Absolutely loved it!

10. I've got less than eleven more days of summertime left to my name. I'm determined to enjoy the stink out of every single one of them!