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Monday, January 30, 2012

What's for dinner tonight?

Look at me blogging two days in a row! I made dinner tonight and honestly thought it was way too decadent to bother telling you about it but then I got curious and plugged it in to my handy dandy WW recipe builder and low and behold it is much better than I imagined! Yea! That off sets the part of the dinner that....didn't....go so well.  Have I mentioned to you how I am NOT a baker? Tonight I realized the full scope of that! Frozen rolls, how easy can it be right? Except I never remember to thaw them in time.  However there is a speed rise instructions for people like me but tonight I learned how it pays to actually read instructions carefully and not just skim them.  You were supposed to put the rolls in a warm oven and turn the oven OFF and let them rise with a tray of water under them.  Well I decided to try it leaving the oven on 200 for an hour and a half.  They didn't rise, can you believe it? They look like large stones, hard little unleavened chunks of bread.  Whoops, would have been a yummy addition to my dinner.  Oh well. So I was shopping the other day without a list or a plan. Tough to do especially since I had the 3 year old in tow and a VERY limited time frame while my oldest was at ballet class. Any of you ever watch Sandra Lee's Semi Homemade show? I love her, she is full of Southern sweetness but a practical girl who cuts corners.  Well I have seen the Philadelphia Cooking Cremes advertised for quite some time and thought those may be just one of those corners she would approve of.  So I grabbed a little of this and a little of that and soon enough had my own little Carbonara creation.  Enjoy.

Amanda's Tortellini Carbonara with Italian Herbs

1 pkg tortellini of your choice (I used Buitoni Herb Chicken Tortellini with Rosemary and Garlic, Yum yum!)
1 container of Philadelphia Reduced Fat Cooking Creme in Italian Cheese and Herb
2 cups Mozzarella shredded (preferably light)
1 pkg bacon (reduced fat or turkey)
2 cups frozen peas
1/4 cup Italian Breadcrumbs
1 tsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Fry up bacon and blot off any extra grease and crumble or coarsely chop.  Put in a 9 x 13.  Cook frozen peas and add to pan.  Cook tortellini per pkg instructions and add to pan.  Pour cooking creme over and mix.  Add Mozzarella and mix again.  Bake 15 min until melted and bubbly.  Mix bread crumbs and olive oil and sprinkle over pan and return to oven for 5-10 min.  Very rich and decadent, makes 10-12 servings only 8 pts.  My kids gobbled it up.  I was loving it.  That's why I figured it couldn't possibly pass the point calculator.  The scariest part was the tortellini, like 43 pts for the whole pkg.  Crazy.  The whole dinner was so quick and easy.  And yummy.  So I had to share.  Even my embarrassing rolls.  Want to see them?

Hilarious.  There is a bible verse that says if we don't praise the Lord, even the rocks will cry out.  I swear that when I took these little guys picture I could hear them humming a bit.  Scary stuff. 

Oh well. I am not a baker.

Anyways may help you with a quick mid-week dinner some time. Now if I can make it until bed resisting sweets...13 more days....

Sunday, January 29, 2012

baby steps...

Wow! That didn't quite go like I planned.... I should just not make you promises apparently because when I don't deliver it gives me quite a guilt complex.  I think I said earlier this week "How can I face blogging again when everyone will know I am just a failure!?"  I was challenged this week to change that perspective. I watched a music video to a song I really love and it spoke to me even more.  Take a look for yourself...

I told my friend I have been setting the bar so impossibly high for myself and coming up short every time and then walking around with a cardboard sign that says "failure" on it.  This video gave me a nice visual to work on turning that sign over and reminding myself in God's eyes I am beloved.  Period. End of story.   Even beyond this realization I still struggle day in and day out.  Last night I shed some tears over my daughters report card (she is in Kindergarten for heavens sake) and she is extremely bright but the areas that her teacher noted she needed work to me pointed out another shortcoming in myself for not spending enough time on school stuff with her, it was another thing that I am supposed to put into my day that is already jam packed and much of which already revolves around the small people and not on myself and.....deep breath. Kleenex.  I am not a failure.  I am beloved.  OK so all this to say I realize my short term goals are struggling.  Week 2 didn't go well.  Then I looked at the challenge for week 3 and they were doing a silly little scavenger hunt and I didn't really want to do that so I thought I'd have a week 2 do-over.  But then I still didn't do it.   I don't know what is the problem.  Why last March I was so full of discipline that was unwavering and I was able to make such incredible positive changes and I have been struggling to get that back in the last few months. I heard a saying recently "If it is really important to you, you will find a way.  If it is not, you will find an excuse." Ouch.  That was so convicting.  Not just about diet and exercise but in other areas of my life that I claim as important.  Very convicting. But, I am going to keep trying.  I have more determination in me yet.  Ask my Momma about my determination.  When I was a little girl I would wrestle my parents and even though I was a little kid I would not give up until whichever parent I was wrestling with would surrender in exhaustion.  I was determined.  As a little girl when we were hiking up a big hill on a vacation, I ran the whole way up while my bigger sisters were dragging behind.  I may have been the youngest but I was not going to be the slowest too so keep up because I am giving it my all until I get to the top.  Somewhere under the skin of this worn-out 32 year old body lies that same spirit of determination and I am praying everyday that God will help me find it where I need it for today.  Baby steps.

I have an exercise goal.  I am staying with the 120-150 min a week.  I have my sights set on a race I want to run and I have accountability with a teammate which helps.  My accountability partner and I are also doing a two week challenge for giving up a food vice, if I seem grumpy over the next several weeks it's because I am giving up all candy, sweets and desserts, yikes, no tempting me please!!! We are also doing a challenge to focus on our relationships as Moms that we are channeling all that attention in positive ways.  I am continuing with the focus of Monthly goals but I think I will modify mine myself each month.  And rewards! I am giving myself a reward based on how many goals I completed.  Meet 1 goal it may be something small like a visit to Starbucks. Two or three something bigger like a new scrapbook supply.  Meet 4 maybe a new purse.  Meet all five goals and reward myself with a massage or a day to myself.  I should probably tell my husband about this part of my plan! :) This is doable and I am excited again. 

Made a lovely meal for dinner today. Yea! I am even cooking again!

Amanda's Baja Chipotle Chicken Burritos

(I literally made this up as I went along so measurements....not so much!)
Pkg boneless skinless chicken thighs
Lawry's Baja Chipotle marinade
2 colored peppers
Frozen corn
Green onion
Lime juice
Garlic salt
Sour cream/salsa/cheese
Minute rice
Chicken stock

First marinade the chicken thighs in 1/3 bottle of Lawry's Baja Chipotle marinade.  Grill (we used our indoor grill pan today and you will see why in a few minutes!) until done. 

We ended up with 6-7 gorgeous pieces of meat like this.  Chopped into bite size chunks and set aside.
Then in a separate bowl add chopped lettuce, chopped green onion, chopped cilantro (reserve a little) and chopped peppers.  Cook some frozen corn  (nice measurements huh?) and add to veges and toss with 2 Tbsp lime juice and a dash of garlic salt. Set aside.
Wow that's pretty!
Chop your pineapple into chunks reserve juice in container.
Cook your desired amount of rice (we were going for fast today so we used minute) and cook using chicken stock.  When finished add 2 Tbsp lime juice and the pineapple juice from the bottom of the pineapple container and the reserved cilantro and a few dashes of garlic salt.  Nice flavorful rice that looks like this.
Now you are ready to build your burrito.  Rice, chicken, veges, salsa, sour cream, pineapple and a sprinkling of Mexican cheese.  Good luck getting the thing closed.  Yum yum yum.... Want to see it again? I do.

So so so good.  Now what to do after dinner.  Well the reason I was nice and didn't ask my husband to grill outside is because of all the piles and piles of snow we got the last two days. My daughters were begging to go make a "Knowman" (the three year old can't say s's yet!) and so we all bundled up and out we went.  Remember how I said my husband was lame from a back injury (haha I can't resist calling him lame!) so I had my exercise cut out for me.

Don't judge me on my outfit! I have to wear his snow gear because I am not a snow person so I don't have any! Yeah I am hot, literally! 1 hour to plow (non motorized plow mind you) and shovel our huge driveway and sidewalks and porches.  I am so utterly spent!

I collapsed in the snow, it felt so good! I think good old fashioned hard work is so good for the soul.  What a beautiful day! I sweated harder than I do running sometimes and my lungs were feeling it! Thanks to my handiwork my oldest could take her little sister "Ledding" (again with the s's!)

Look at that nice clear sidewalk! And I lay in the snow and had this to look at...

And there is nothing wrong with that....
Thank you God for reminding me each day in both big and small ways that I am your beloved!!! And thank you whatever readers are still out there, for coming back and reading my blog even when I make mistakes.  Don't give up on me yet!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Dreams for 2012!

I was really feeling it the other day! You know the completely overwhelmed, don't think you can possibly manage and sort out all that life is throwing at you and feeling defeated before you even try sort of feeling.  Do you ever feel that way? Well I am not ashamed to admit I get the way, probably too often! On this day I got in the car to pick up my daughter from school completely relieved that I was doing something simple and basic that could be done without thinking.  As I was driving an old school Twila Paris came on the radio taking me back a few years and lifting me up with just the right message!

God is in Control!! The very first words; "This is no time for fear, this is the time for faith and determination." You see overall I did have a pretty great 2011.  I just struggled in the last few months a bit.  It didn't exactly go out with a bang.  I kind of stumbled and tripped into the new year bouncing from major stressor to major stressor and wondering "when's a girl going to catch a break?" 

So as I started the new year the time when everyone is full of ambition and new goals, dream and aspirations, my sails were hanging limp by my sides, no wind in sight.  My husband had a major back injury and besides the usual worry of whether he will heal from this the majority of the daily activities that pile up to keep a household and family humming along are now resting solely on my shoulders.  But as I listened the lyrics of the song seemed to be emblazoned on my heart like a badge pinned to my chest "this is the time for faith and determination." And then I remembered what it says across the top of this blog, particularly the first four words, go ahead, look up there....

Forgetting what is behind...

So 2011 didn't end on the high point I was hoping for.  It's a new day and 2012 is full of nothing but promise.  Time to start "straining toward what is ahead" and to "press-on", that is my motto after all! Where to start? I had made elaborate new years resolutions before that were largely unrealistic or unattainable.  I wanted to get my thoughts down but didn't know where to start and then as I did my normal perusing of blogs I came across my Do Life buddy Ben starting a challenge for his blog followers for the start of 2012. Sweet! Problem solved, basically took 50% of the work off my shoulders :)

The challenge is to make monthly goals and have weekly challenges you need to work on! Simple enough. If any of you want to jump on board with me, I will happily welcome the company.  Here is the lowdown.

First Month's goals:
Write down five quantifiable goals for yourself. Emphasis on quantifiable. And they must be realistically achievable within one month Assess yourself and write down your current stats in all five areas. Do you want to lose six pounds? Find out exactly where you are now. Do you want to run a 35-minute 5K? Write down your current time. Etc. You might need to get creative with assessments. That's okay. There is no requirement on your goals or your assessments.

My goals were on these themes:
1. Building relationships. 1 date night a month with my love, 1 one-on-one with each of my girls once a month, 2 play dates for me with a friend or extended family member every month, and one alone time by myself doing things I like!!
2. Using food tracker and resume good eating practices (I am focusing on MyFitnessPal to track my food and exercise, PLEASE consider checking this out, I would love to have more friends on there with me for increased accountability!)
3. Logging 16 miles and in a month walking and running
4. Lose 6 lbs in January
5. Giving my time with God that number one spot it belongs in!!
Additional week one challenges were:
A. By Monday night, get on the floor an do as many pushups as you can. Modified (from your knees) or regular. It doesn't matter how many you can do. Write this number down in a notebook or word document. Pushups will be a "fun" recurring litmus test throughout the 12 weeks.
B. Beginners: Do 120 minutes of exercise this week. The exercise can be anything physical as long as you're working that heart rate. Walking, running, cycling, rollerblading, yoga, weight-lifting, anything.

C. Identify your biggest excuse. Write it down on a wall in your house. Then in your notebook write a way to eliminate that excuse. Not enough time in the day? Try eliminating American Idol and Glee. :) (His words not mine!)
D. Each night before bed, write four things you did well that day.

Here is how I did on Week One: 1. I had a playdate and both Sophie and I got to play with a friend, plus mine involved exercise.  2. I resumed using MyFitnessPal but didn't hit the everyday mark! 3. I logged my first 2 miles.  4. I lost three lbs for January already. 5.  I found a good devotional/ prayer program to begin. A. Ugh pushups! Could you believe that I could only do 10, lots of room for improvement!! B. I got my 120 min! Yea! C. My biggest excuse is time but usually just due to poor time management.  My goal for that was to go to bed early so I could wake up early.  Totally failed at this.  This has been on my list for years, I will overcome it one of these days.  D. I did this a few days, hard to do, I am not very complementary of myself.  Overall not a bad first week!   
For Week 2 obviously you are still working on your 5 monthly goals but you have the additional challenges of:
Do something out of the ordinary for a stranger. Find a way to brighten someone's day. Pay for an elderly couple's meal at the restaurant. Give a homeless man a blanket. Volunteer. Compliment someone. Do something out of your way. Something, maybe, you've never done before.
Do something else. Yep, that's (at least) two times this week, you'll be going out of your way.
Reassess your pushups (or plank) today or tomorrow. And keep working them. There are pushup and plank plans all over the Internet, or make up your own. Stick with it!

Reassess your goals. Where are you? How are you doing? Do you need to change anything?

Beginners: 150 minutes of exercise (or 20 minutes more than you did last week).

Write four things you did well. Every night before bed.
So this is what I am working on for the beginning of 2012 to jumpstart my progress.  I would love to have others come along for this ride with me.  Just start a word document and track your progress on the issues and let me know the highlights as we go along.  I switched my weigh-in day to Monday and then I will try to get the new weeks goals and challenged posted then and comment on how last weeks goals turned out. 
On a different note my husband and I have been reading this book:
It is singlehandedly the most inspiring, astonishing and motivating story I have ever read.  When I read about what one man endured over the span of 2.5 years I think of how much I complain about the slightest inconvenience; being too cold, too warm, hungry, too full, too tired, can't sleep, slightly congested, a sore muscle, noisy kids, a burnt dinner, the list could go on and on of my annoyances with these daily aggravations.  All that Louis Zamperini went through makes me want to be a better human every day.  I strongly suggest everyone run not walk to their nearest  bookstore and buy this book.  Feeling so inspired by this story I decided to go running on Monday though I have done very little running in the last month.  I ran and ran and ran, 2 miles without stopping which for a girl who only ever got up to 3 miles at a time to do 2 after a month with no running felt like a big accomplishment.  So many times I see this with my patients we stop with the first initial signs of discomfort, whether out of fear or injury or just plain aversion of doing anything less than pleasant we give up.  I looked ahead at each attainable landmark and I ran to there and then next and the next and the next.  And I was so proud of my accomplishment afterwards.  Am I sore today, very!!! But that didn't stop me from exercising again today.  It won't break me but will actually refine me.  That is part of what I like about the above program.  I didn't make a lofty goal of losing 85 lbs this year, but a small goal of losing 6 in the month of January.  I like the little challenges and the measurable gains through tracking your pushups etc.  And I LOVE that he is coming up with the ideas for me. Thanks so much Ben!

Other things to look for coming soon:
I also plan on doing a little back education in honor of my husband. We are living and breathing how to take care of your back over here and I have struggled with some guilt because I feel like if I had policed my husband a little better before his injury he may not be in such dire straights as he is at this time.  But then again there is only so much one can do when freezers fall on them!  I also promise to get back into sharing recipes.  I have been desperately combing through the stockpile in our freezer using the food up both in an effort to save money and to make space for future freezing :) And there is still a big opportunity coming my way in 2012 that I look forward to sharing with you all when the time is right! ;) So there is much to look forward to, with faith and determination.  Hope many of you are feeling the same way!