Early 20’s vs Late 20’s: Dieting

I never want to talk much about my attempts to lose a little weight on here, but as it’s on my project list and currently on my mind, I have come to the recent realization that I am not as young as I once was.

In the beginning of 2008, I was 23 and fresh out of college.  My last year of college had been rough – getting too little sleep, having too much stress, and eating far too much fast food in the middle of the night/early morning.  I finally gained my “Freshman 15” as a senior.  So I decided to do something about the 15 pounds I had gained + the 15 vanity pounds I wanted to lose on top of that; I joined Weight Watchers.

Now, 5 ½ years later, I am back in the same position, having gained back, over the last few years, that 30 pounds I lost in 2008.  I want to lose it again.  And again, I am trying Weight Watchers.

At 29, it’s different this time.  Maybe it’s unfair to just pinpoint the age difference, as several things have changed, such as my marital status, my social life, and my will-power. But age definitely has something to do with the change of my metabolism, eating habits, and “wisdom”.

When I was 23, the weight seemed to magically fall off.  It wasn’t quick, but it was steady.  Week after week, I’d see a smaller number on the scale  – 4 pounds lost, 2 pounds lost, 1 pound lost.  I wanted to lose the weight and that was enough then.  I took up running; I started tracking what I ate; I went to the weekly Weight Watchers meetings.  It worked.  From February to May, I lost 30 pounds, and I made Lifetime membership by staying at my goal weight for 6 weeks.

If it was so easy then, why is it so hard now?  Have I just suppressed the memories of wanting to shovel chocolate in my mouth or did I really not have that trouble then?

The good thing about WW is that you do track your food, and the good thing about being a pseudo-hoarder is that you keep those food journals.  I was looking over my old journal yesterday, and here’s one of the main differences:  I lived off of Progresso Soup and SmartOnes frozen dinners; now I cook.  I’m pretty sure my husband would have thrown an intervention for my former single self back in 2008 if he had known me; frozen dinners, full of who knows what, and canned soup, full of the same plus loads of sodium, are not healthy.  But they worked.

So I guess I’m labeling that one as with growing older comes wisdom disipline the desire to fuel my body with truly healthy food, not just low calories.  And that makes it a little more work for me and the will power.  Cursed by cooking?  Get ready for some new diet-friendly recipes.

I miss blogging…

I know I said it before, back in May, when life began to get a bit more hectic – but I didn’t mean to just drop the blog.  But here it is – SEPTEMBER! – and I haven’t posted anything since then.  I miss it.  I never thought I’d be one to want to share my life on the world wide web, but I enjoy this as a creative outlet…as well as a way to keep myself organized.

So here’s what I’ve been up to over the summer, a check-in on my New Year’s resolutions, and a project list update:

My summer was nothing out of the ordinary.  Our house guests stayed with us for three weeks while they got everything worked out with their renters insurance and found a new place to live.  In between work deadlines for both of us, my husband and I took a couple of vacations to visit family and a camping trip or two.  We celebrated our one-year anniversary in July.  There was no studying for exams involved because I passed my last section of the Architect Registration Exam in June.  New Year’s Resolution #1 COMPLETE!  As for resolutions #2 (house-keeping) and #3 (cooking) – I go back and forth between on-it and not on-it.  I would say overall, the house stays company-ready, and I do cook most nights – which was really all I was trying to accomplish with those resolutions anyway.  I have fallen off the Slow Cooker Challenge wagon, but may revive that soon.  I do have on of my stand-by’s, chicken for tacos tonight, already in the slow-cooker as I type this.

As for my  project list, I have updates and more to add.  #3 – Organize the shed – DONE.  It’s not as scary anymore since it’s not crammed full of who-knows-what, and I have a happy husband because his lawn equipment and tools are easily accessible.  As for #2 – Renovate the home office/gym – it’s so close to complete I can taste it.  All that is left to complete is the baseboards and the millwork (which we are meeting with a cabinet maker soon).  #1 – Create a Filing System – DONE – at least temporarily.  I have created a temporary system until we get the filing cabinets in the office for the permanent solution, but all I will have to do is move everything over.  I don’t want to talk about #4 right now…but I still need to focus on that.

Office Renovation Progress; desk, shelves, cabinets, and a wardobe still to come.

Office Renovation Progress; desk, shelves, cabinets, and a wardrobe still to come.

New additions to the project list:

#5:  Renovate the pantry.  To make a long story short, this has to be done because we bought a new frontloading washer and dryer that was on super-sale over Labor Day weekend.  Our small pantry also serves as the laundry closet, so this new set, which is stackable, will save space.  We have several things we need to do to the pantry before we can install the washer and dryer, so we are on that right now, trying to get that completed my mid-October.

#6:  Blog regularly.  I have come across tons of things I want to share recently, so this might as well add this to the list!

That’s it for now; it’s good to be back.  I can’t wait to get back to sharing more recipes and household tips!

That Time We Helped a Couple in Need

Last year, our church small group read Francis Chan’s Crazy Love.  The book itself is challenging in so many ways – calling Christians to examine their lives; I remember being overwhelmed while reading it, wanting to turn our life upside down but not knowing how…and quite honestly, being scared to do-so.

In the book, Chan mentions that while he and his family live in a modest house, they realize how abundantly blessed they are, and open their home to those in need.  They will have as many as seven houseguests at any given time – and they do this solely out of God’s love, which calls us to love others.

I remember reading that and thinking, “I don’t think I could ever do that – for more reasons than the fact that I’m not the best housekeeper”.  Don’t get me wrong – I’ve always loved to help others – but it’s always been on a surface level.  I love buying gifts for children on the Angel Tree every year, donating items and money for causes that tug at my heart, and giving some of my (precious) time volunteering for the greater good.  But my personal space?

Well guess what?  My husband and I offered to share our house to some friends in need.  They are staying with us for an undermined amount of time, and my heart could not be more full.  These friends lived in an apartment building nearby that caught on fire two nights ago.  The entire top story of the building is gone.  They haven’t been allowed in to their unit to see if anything is recoverable – and they don’t know that they will be able to.  They left the building in the middle of the night with not much more than their cat, thinking that it was another false alarm…until they watched the roof burst into flames.

There was not an ounce of me that didn’t want to immediately do anything I could for them.  There was no hesitation when my husband told me he had offered our guest bedroom to them – only a growing love for the man with a good heart that I married 9 month ago.  And as if all by plan, I had cleared out and cleaned up the guest bedroom two weeks ago, as it had become the junk room while we renovate the home office.  It was just waiting to be used.

The couple and kitty are settled in and doing okay.  Overwhelmed but okay.

So here we are, busy as always…but we are so blessed.

I’m still here…somewhere…

It’s amazing how fast time passes when you’re busy. I’ve always said I’d rather be busy at work than slow – because I hate trying to find some way to keep myself busy.  But whoa!  Work – and life – got hectic for a little while.  I didn’t mean to just drop the blog…but it happened.  I’ll be back soon…bear with me while I try to finish a few things up…

Slow Cooker Challenge Week 3: Thai Chicken and Vegetables

If you’ve missed my previous posts and would like to join in the Slow Cooker Challenge, it’s never too late!  Go here to read more.

Today’s post is going to have to be short and sweet.  I’m too busy to ramble…but maybe that’s a good thing.

This week, I made a recipe that I have made once before the challenge and blogged about:  Thai Chicken and Vegetables.  It’s a Weight Watchers recipe, but it is full of flavor and nothing that would make you think “diet”.  You can follow the link to find the recipe.  As I said I am busy, busy, busy, I made the recipe Thursday, rather than Wednesday, as I didn’t make it to the grocery store until Wednesday…and I did not make it to Zumba.  However, it was perfect for Thursday, as I worked 12 hours and came home to dinner almost completely ready.

My second review of the recipe:  still love it.  It’s becoming one of my favorites.  It takes a good bit of time for all the prep work (peeling and chopping the veggies), but it’s worth it (especially, as I said in my original post, there are no Thai restaurants nearby, and while this may not be considered “authentic”, it’s better than nothing).

This dish has very specific flavors and everything is all mixed together – so I have no tips for repurposing.  At my house, though, we would gladly eat this for lunch two more times to use all 6 servings.

What’s in your slow cooker this week?

Slow Cooker Challenge Week 2: Pork Teriyaki

If you’ve missed my previous posts and would like to join in the Slow Cooker Challenge, go here to read more.

This week, I made Slow-Cooked Pork Teriyaki.  I found the recipe in a pdf called “New Year, New You:  The 30-Day Challenge” from MyDailyMoment.com.  Honestly, I don’t remember downloading this pdf…and I don’t remember ever being on their website…so I’m thinking I must have gotten it from Pinterest.  The pdf includes 30 recipes plus a “tip of the day” beside each recipe; some of the recipes sound pretty good, but this is the first one I’ve tried.  Most of the tips are good ones – conquering myths about diet and exercise.

Back to the recipe:  The name of the recipe is really what grabbed my attention – thinking if I could recreate a hibachi favorite with my slow cooker, we’d never have to go again.  But the ingredients left me a little skeptical (apple juice?).  Overall, it turned out pretty well – of course not as good as the hibachi restaurant’s though (don’t worry, Benihana’s, we’ll be back).  I also paired the meal with white rice, steamed dumplings (found in the frozen food section), and some vegetable egg rolls from the grocery store’s “market” section.  One thing I’ve discovered about grocery store egg rolls – frozen or refrigerated,  as we’ve tried a couple of brands – they’re never as good as a restaurant’s.  And while I think there was something missing from the pork, the egg rolls are really what left me unsatisfied with the meal.  Just thinking about the pork, if I were giving it a rating, I’d give it 6 out of 10 stars.  I guess it’s about what you’d expect out a “healthified” version of something you love.

Slow-Cooked Pork Teriyaki

  • 3/4 C. unsweetened apple juice
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • 1 3-lb boneless pork loin roast, halved
  • 1/2 tsp cornstach
  • 3 Tbsp cold water
  • Combine all ingredients except pork, cornstarch, and water in a slow cooker.
  • Add pork, turning to coat.
  • Cover and cook for 7 to 8 hours on low (or until thermometer inserted in roast reads 160 degrees).
  • Remove roast and keep warm.
  • In a saucepan, combine cornstarch and cold water until smooth (to me, this mixes better if done in a cup then added to the saucepan).
  • Stir in cooking juices; bring to a boil, cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.
  • Serve with the pork roast.

More thoughts from me:  I shredded the pork, mixed it in the sauce, and served on top of white rice; I think I would chop it instead…maybe try searing the roast first too.

Repurposing:  3 pounds of pork is a lot for two people.  The recipe says 8 servings.  After eating it twice, I was ready to do something else with the meat that I didn’t cover in the sauce.  So, here’s some ideas:  Barbeque sandwiches (with coleslaw!); pork tacos (with all those corn tortillas have left over from last week) or similar (enchiladas, burritos, nachos, etc); homemade pork gyoza (steamed dumplings) or egg rolls; baked beans; some sort of shepard’s pie or hearty soup; some sort of breakfast casserole (I’m imagining hash brown, eggs, cheese, pork, peppers, onions).  I have yet to decide how to use our leftovers…maybe egg rolls to keep in the freezer so I don’t have to suffer more bad store bought ones; am I really up for that challenge???

Slow-Cooker Challenge: Week 1

The slow cooker challenge has begun!  If you missed my previous post and would like to join in, it’s never too late.  Just go here to check out the details.

My recipe for this week is a one that I’ve made a few times before and even shared on my blog previously:  Martha Stewart’s Slow-Cooker Chicken Tacos.  I meant to take pictures, but was famished after bouncing around in Zumba class for a hour and just wanted to shovel the tacos in my mouth – hence the whole reason for the challenge:  quick dinners after Zumba.

Source:  Marthastewart.com

Source: Marthastewart.com

But back to the recipe:  it’s one of my favorites because the chicken comes out very moist and flavorful, and there’s always a lot of meat leftover that I can repurpose.  I cooked the taco meat on Wednesday, and we had tacos for dinner; then Thursday, I made burritos.  We still have some chicken leftover, so we will probably have tacos again for lunch tomorrow.  Other ideas for using the leftover chicken include chicken tortilla soup, enchiladas, spicy chicken salad (the lettuce kind or the sandwich kind), chicken spaghetti, nachos, fried rice, barbeque sandwiches, taco pizza, taco soup, loaded potatoes, stuffed manicotti, white bean chili.  Really I would use it for almost anything that called for chicken because I like the flavor.

Without further ado, here is the recipe from Martha Stewart:

Slow Cooker Chili Chicken Tacos (lovingly dubbed by me “It’s a Good Thing” tacos):

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs (I’ve also used breasts)
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 C prepared tomato salsa (plus more for serving)
  • 1-2 Tbsp chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 8 shells (Martha calls for hard shells; we like soft corn tortilla shells)
  • Cilantro, shredded cheese, lime wedges, and sour cream for topping (or whatever else you like to add – lettuce, tomatoes, black olives, onions, etc)

Directions:

  • Combine everything except the shells and toppings in the slow cooker.
  • Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours.
  • Transfer chicken to a bowl and shred.  Add some of the juice from the slow cooker to moisten.
  • Serve with shells and toppings.

My notes:  I add water – just enough to cover the chicken.  I’ve also swapped the chipotle chiles for enchilada sauce once (because I grabbed the wrong thing at the store); still fantastic.  Add I usually end up using more chiles than called for (b/c what do you do with leftovers of those??).

If you used your slow-cooker this week, what did you make?

Repurposing Leftovers: Red Beans and Rice in to Bean Burritos

Last week, I made Slow-Cooker Red Beans and Rice, following this Southern Living recipe.  I’ve made this about three times, and it’s always delicious.  The only thing I do differently than the recipe is that since I have trouble finding andouille sausage, I use kielbasa – and I cook that separately in the oven (because it does not hold up in the slow cooker – lesson learned).

This make a lot of beans, so we had quite a bit leftover with no more sausage.  What to do with those beans???

Last night – for my first Meatless Monday – I repurposed them into Bean Burritos, adapted from this Martha Stewart recipe.  I love that she tells you how to freeze these.  As a bonus, I had made a corn side dish to take to a potluck on Easter, and we had some leftovers from that as well that I was able to use.

Here’s my adapted recipe:

Bean Burritos

  • 1/2 C uncooked rice (should make 1 C cooked)
  • 1 C water (or how much according to directions on rice)
  • 1 Tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • Leftover beans from Red Beans and Rice (I had about 3 C of beans)
  • 1/2 can Enchilada Sauce
  • 1/2 Tbsp Cumin
  • 1 tsp Garlic powder
  • 1 tsp Onion powder
  • Leftover corn (recipe includes corn, cream cheese, green chiles, and butter – tried to drain the melted cream cheese from the kernels)
  • 8 Burrito size tortillas (I like Mission’s carb-balance whole wheat ones)
  • 2 C shredded cheese
  • Sour Cream
  • Salsa

I used Garlic and onion powders instead of the real things because I was short on time.  I skipped the jalapeno because the beans, cooked in creole seasoning, already had some spice.

  • Add rice, water, cilantro, and lime to sauce pan.  Cook according to directions on rice package.
  • Heat up left over beans in sauce pan;  stir-in enchilada sauce, cumin, garlic powder, and onion powder.
  • Heat up leftover corn (if no leftover – follow Martha).
  • Assemble burritos:  lay one tortilla flat; spread 1 Tbsp sour cream down the center (if desired); spread 1/8 C rice over sour cream, followed by 1/3 C +/- bean mixture, and 1/8 C corn; sprinkle on 1/4 C shredded cheese and salsa if desired; fold ends of tortilla, the roll into burrito.
  • Enjoy or freeze for later!

Slow-Cooker Challenge

If you’ve read more than a couple of my blog posts, you’ve probably read about my love of my Crockpot.  I’ve been debating for some time about taking this love to the next level – making one slow cooker meal a week.  Last week, as I prepared a menu for the entire month of April (which I typically only make weekly menus), I decided to incorporate two things:  Meatless Monday and using the slow cooker on my busiest day of week.  Just for fun, I thought I make it a “challenge” for myself for the rest of the year – 39 weeks.  And for even more fun, I thought I’d post it on here, in case anyone else would like to join me!  (I’ve never participated in a blog challenge, let alone create one, and yet, starting today, I am taking on both.  Forgive me if I don’t know what I am doing.)  I know this is a little different from the “organizing my life” that this blog was created for – but it is a step to making my busy life a little less hectic – at least for one meal a week.

slowcookerchallenge

Okay – If you’d like to join in this Slow-Cooker Challenge, here are the rules I’ve made for myself:

Use the Slow Cooker for one meal each week for the remainder of the year.  I don’t care if it is the same day each week, but I am aiming for dinner on Wednesdays since I won’t get home until 7.  There are 39 Wednesday’s left in the year, so that means 39 meals.

One-Pot Meals are not required.  I haven’t tried any of them, but there are lots of recipes for things other than meals – such as desserts and side dishes.  You don’t have to make a “meal” – but you do have to make something in the slow-cooker as part of the meal.

Try different recipes.  I’d like to pretend that I won’t repeat a recipe, but I know there are some that we really like already that I will probably cook more than once.  No big deal – just so long as you don’t end up cooking the same thing every time.

Share a review of your recipe.  I know some recipes are sacred, so you don’t have to share the recipe itself if you don’t want to – but I am interested in what you thought about what you cooked.  I’ll be posting my reviews on Fridays; if you’re a blogger, write a post about the dish and link it up in the comments section of my weekly review.  If you’re not a blogger, you can still participate – just share a short review in my comments section.

Since I am mostly doing this for myself – to not feel so rushed on Wednesdays when I’d like to start going to Zumba after work – if I meet this challenge every week, I will be rewarding myself.  My reward is yet to be determined – maybe a new cookbook or some smaller clothes because I lost some weight with Zumba :-).  I am sure there are other similar challenges out in the blog world (though I couldn’t really find one, but didn’t do the most thorough search), so to entice you to join in with me, I am offering a random giveaway at the end of the challenge.  It will be more than just a cookbook; I have some fun ideas but I’m not quite sure what it will be just yet…

The giveaway will happen the first week of January 2014.  Entries into the giveaway are as follows:

  • 1 Entry per week for every recipe you make, review, and share in my comments.
  • 1 Additional Entry per week if it’s a “new” recipe that you make, review, and share in my comments. “New” means that you have not made it in one of the previous weeks.  It can be something you’ve made before, but not something you’ve made during this challenge; it can be something that someone else has made during the challenge, but you have not.
  • 3 Entries (one time) if you comment below “Challenge Accepted” and share at least one review during the time of the challenge.
  • 4 Entries (one time) if you share the Slow Cooker Challenge logo on your blog (and you link me to your blog in the comments below).

My first post will be Friday, April 5th, so be sure to check in on Fridays to share your reviews.  Your post can be made any time during the week (Sunday to Saturday of the week of the Friday of each post) – but please link me to it in the comments on my Friday posts.  The challenge ends December 31st, 2013, and since you can earn points weekly, it’s never too late to join in (except of course after December 31st of this year)!

Project List Update

Where has the time gone?  It’s officially Spring – and I have yet to Spring Clean (though I have been keeping the house “surface cleaned” and company ready).  I had big plans to break the deep cleaning up all through the month of March, but I was so bogged down with studying for an exam at the beginning of the month that I barely even registered it was March (side note – I found out last week, I passed the exam:  5 A.R.E. exams down, 2 to go!)

And then there’s my project list…with all the deadlines long since past.  I am working on them though – particularly #2:  home office/gym renovation.  We have stripped the walls down to the studs, ripped up the carpet, upgraded the electrical panel for the house that is located in this room, rewired a few of the circuits, replaced duct work to the den that previously ran through the kitchen cabinets now relocated into a fur down in this space, and stripped paint off of the ceiling beams.

Image from Houzz.com (my favorite website)

Image from Houzz.com (my favorite website)

 

I don’t have a picture of our room, but this is similar to what the ceiling looks like in the space – except that the beams have been painted (currently, they are a horrible yellowed off-white color).  We are working, one room at a time, to get the beams back to natural wood.  It’s not a fun process.

Apparently, at one time, the entire room – exposed decking, ceiling beams, walls, and all – was painted teal.  We’ve previously renovated the living room, and that entire room was painted mauve.  I really question what the previous owners were thinking, but then again, the house was built in the 50’s.

Anyway, home office/gym renovation is in full swing  and when we get that finished, I will be able to tackle the filing system (#1 on my project list) – as we have already designated a space for a beautiful new filing cabinet.  Most people probably don’t think a filing cabinet is a thing of beauty, but this should tell you how out of hand my current system is.

#3 on the list, clean out the storage shed, will happen one warm weekend.  We’ve had a recent return of winter, and there’s no way I’m going to tackle that dark, damp place in 30 degree temperatures.

#4 – lose 10 pounds – that’s the one I’ve been concentrating on the most.  Halfway there.

Well, at least there’s progress.  Who needs deadlines?