Thursday, February 11, 2010

In the words of a 14- year old

I could not have advertised it better.  All the more interesting that it came from him!  
Needless to say, I gave him many hugs that day!

Hope you are all having a wonderful day, and that you have excellent plans for the weekend!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Not mine - but a pretty neat one from Simple Mom as a celebration of the beginning of Simple Living Media.  Go check it out!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Finding Fear

As I look at taking better care of my body, I am becoming much more aware of emotions that hang around, influencing decisions and moods.  One of these emotions that crops up quite often is fear.  I'm not sure if this is a child-like fear that was never resolved, or a new, adult-sized fear.  And I'm not too sure if making the discovery of where this feeling came from originally is really important.  At this point, I am only interested in the fact that it is here, and feels like it has set roots down in me.  Not like an 'Alien' type thing, more of a 'Hey there, I'm around until you decide what to do with me' sort of thing.

But what purpose does fear serve?  We all know that fear can help guide us to make the right decision, such as not crossing the road at a time when cars are passing - no, be afraid of getting hit.  Yes of course - and this just turns into good judgement and common sense later on.  But as adults, what scares us?  I know that the unknown can scare me pretty deeply.  I'm not talking about the simple things - not knowing what's for dinner, or what the weather will be.  I'm talking about not knowing if my children will be ok without their parents when the time comes.  Will they stay safe when they are not at home?  I think it's natural for any parent to be concerned, yes, even scared about their children.  But what if we go deeper?

I think about my health and the decisions I've made over the past 2 decades - the time when I was really the one in control and answered to no one.  Years of ice cream and Doritos has taken a toll on me now - one that I don't know if I can undo, although I am working on it.  I now look in the mirror and see a frightened child looking back.  A child wrapped in layers of protection, yet no covering is enough to keep the hurt or confusion out.   It's as if all the years of putting on the pounds was my attempt at wrapping the layers of an onion all around, shielding me from rejection, disappointment and fear.  And yet, if I really look at it, I understand that all those layers KEPT those feelings inside of me.  Rather than shield me from the hurt of the outside world which I felt anyway, I also endured the anger and wrath of my inner critic demanding to know what was wrong with me that I didn't look like everyone else, act like everyone else, eat like everyone else.  The stronger that voice became, the more layers I wrapped myself in, and the cycle started over again.  every time I wrapped a layer around, I was causing those feelings to bounce back on me, when I wanted to keep them out altogether.  Talk about self-sabotage!

Finding a way to soften that inner critic has me face to face with my fear.  It's not an ugly stand-off as I had expected, but rather like a gentle calling to a frightened animal, one who is reluctant to come close for fear of the unexpected.  Through this process I am learning patience as I know this will not turn overnight.  I am also learning gratitude for being alive, for being able to recognize and hold these feelings, even if working through them every day is not an option for me.  

It's funny to type this up and sound so grown up, but of course in reality, I have good days and really bad days with this.  Just yesterday, you would have thought me 5 years old with the tantrums I had, stomping my feet and pulling my hair.  The problem??  I was mad that I couldn't have cake with my boys.  Imagine that.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Live With Intention

I stopped eating grains this week.  It was a hard decision to make, but once made, felt oh, so right.  As you are probably well aware, I am allergic to gluten, so have to avoid foods with wheat, rye, barley, triticale and some oats.  And though I know full well how to avoid those foods and make amazing food without them, my addictive tendency somehow makes it 'ok' for me to slip and eat them.  Of course, I feel after-shocks from eating these allergens, sometimes for days after ingesting them.  You'd think that would stop me, but no, my addictive side is much too strong for that.  I have found that I have to face my addictions head on.  Either I allow the allergens and addictions to roam freely and control my world, making me feel crappy all the time, or I put my foot down and stop.  Completely.  No negotiations.  Well, obviously, I chose the latter approach.  In the past, I have found this helpful with any dieting or shift in lifestyle - for a bit of time.  It typically lasts a few weeks or months at best.  Well, to be true to my all-or-nothing nature, I did go completely and strictly gluten free for over 2 years.

I decided to stop eating grains this week as I really wanted to see 1) how hard could it be?, 2) how would I feel, and 3) would I actually see a shift in my weight?  I was really curious yesterday to see if my weight had shifted at all, so I slipped onto the scale 2 days early.  I gained a pound - WHAT????  But then, my monthly visitor came today, which makes complete sense that I would be retaining fluid.  I learned way back in my heavy dieting days that at ovulation and menstruation, our bodies have a tendency to retain and gain or at least not lose weight.  So I'm ok with the pound that decided to hang out with me a little longer.  I get the feeling that it will be packing and leaving soon.  A second thing I noticed is that my blood sugar, which I watch each morning for pre-diabetes, has been on the high side.  This has surprised me without grains in my diet.  Adding greens and more meat usually brings the sugars down, so I have to watch how I am balancing the meals themselves.  A funny thing happens with blood sugar - it has to do with lifestyle as well as food intake.  There are several guidelines to follow - eat small meals often, exercise, learn how to balance carbs with protein and fats, and get enough sleep.  I have definitely been falling short on the sleep category this week, and just came down with a cold, so I could be reacting to that.  Apparently, a tired liver makes it harder to get the pancreas to deliver enough insulin.    Not enough insulin means too much sugar in the blood.  Not a good feeling - makes me feel like I got hit by a mack truck.

On the other side, I do not miss grains.  I don't miss bread, cookies, cakes, pizza, nothing.  Shocking, I know.  That is a real surprise to me, as this was one reason why I held off cutting out grains to begin with.  I did, however, have a small pang of sadness when I found my favorite Pamela's bread mix again at the store, and realized that I couldn't enjoy it.  That's a bummer, but at least my family can have it, and I can enjoy the "yum's" coming from their mouths!
Another experience I have had this week is my mood has shifted.  We have had a challenging week with some school issues with our youngest, and I have been overwhelmed, but not completely blown away by them.  I find less brain fog now that my body is without grains.  I am teaching at night and took on another job on top of all my other work, and I'm still running mostly smoothly, able to keep my moods up and focused, even with the lack of sleep.  My memory is not yet strong, but hey - it's only been a week!

I started this last weekend thinking I would try a week.  I think I will go for another week and see how I feel.  I would like to add green smoothies this week, to really up my fiber and calcium.

I found this poem that resonated with me since I was trying something new and challenging this week, and really living with intention.  I hope you enjoy it as I did:

Live with intention
Walk to the edge
Listen hard
Practice wellness
Play with abandon
Choose with no regret
Continue to learn
Appreciate your friends
Do what you love
Live as if
This is all there is.

by Mary Ann MLB Rademacher

May you be well and enjoy your weekend in peace.

~ Jill

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A Couple of Great Recipes

Today, I made some great food, if I do say so myself.  And I thought, "There might be someone out there who would think this was yummy", so I'm sharing a couple of recipes from what I made.

I have been reading this book by Mariel Hemingway - that I mentioned earlier this week.  In it, she gives a recipe for a protein frapuccino that is super good.  I made a twist with it by adding chocolate and cinnamon, and thought you might like it as well:

Mexican Chocolate Frapuccino

1 Cup cold decaf coffee (I used leftover from the morning pot)
1 T chocolate powder (I used dark chocolate powder)
1 tsp cinnamon
1T agave nectar (You could use sugar, honey, stevia or other sweetener if you want)
1 heaping scoopful of protein powder (I used vanilla whey protein powder)
2 large handfuls of ice
1/4 C cream

I put all ingredients except cream in the blender.  Thanks to my mother, I have this incredible Vita-Mix blender that works amazingly well with everything.  After everything is blended, add the cream and blend for a few short bursts.  If you blend too long, the cream will get lumpy and begin to turn to butter - not so tasty.  Pour into a glass and enjoy your very inexpensive coffee treat - which has protein to boot!

I tried some Truffle Tater Tots at a restaurant recently - which of course they charged an arm and leg for.  I thought - wow, I could do this at home for a fraction of the cost.  True, the white truffle oil isn't cheap - I spent $10 for my bottle, but when the dish at the restaurant came in at $7 a pop, I will more than pay for the bottle with a few times cooking this dish.  I had not tried truffle oil yet, and must admit to being just a little frightened.  I don't care much for mushrooms, so truffles did not thrill me- except if they have chocolate inside...  I was really quite surprised at how much I enjoyed the deep, smoky flavor.  It was mesmerizing, actually.  I found a good bottle (not great, I am sure) of the oil in my local grocery store.  I'm sure a simple search would bring up a much better bottle - perhaps at Whole Foods or a specialty shop.

White Truffle Potatoes

2 lbs russet or yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed and cut in chunks
Preheat oven to 425 F.
Put potatoes in baking dish and drizzle with olive oil, salt and garlic (either powder or minced).  Cover and put in oven.  Stir every 15 minutes until getting crispy and browned.  When done to your liking, sprinkle approximately 2 T of white truffle oil all over the potatoes.  Then, if you like, sprinkle parmesean cheese (we used Kasseri goat cheese) over the top.  Once the cheese has melted a bit, transfer the potatoes to a baking dish and serve.

Oh soooooo good.

Let me know what you think, if you make either of these.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

From Super-Sizing to Down-Sizing

I had a thought today.  I was reading an article the Canary Club posted today by Drs. Richard and Karilee Shames about obesity.  They talked about living in Mexico and witnessing a tragic shift in a cultural eating pattern that was bringing about obesity and illness to many Mexican individuals.  They even talked about  the big-box stores as being the culprits for keeping people working 7 days instead of resting on Sunday - if there's someone to shop, then there must be employees to keep the store open, right?  They talked about this huge change all contributing to loss of family values, health and putting added stress on each individual's shoulders.

So I began thinking about this.  I shop at big-box stores only occasionally, choosing instead to frequent second-hand stores in the area.  But I do go to Target to find large-sized clothing when my local thrift shop sleuthing turns up dry.  Being a large woman, I have to ask myself, "Would I be this large if I did not have a back-up, big-box store to find my-sized clothing?"  If all I could find were sizes up to 12, would I be able to even get bigger if I knew I couldn't fit into clothing?  My guess is, if I was unable to button my pants, I would curb my eating patterns right quick.  There would be no leaning on the fact that I could just zip on down the road and check out Target, or the large-sized women's clothing store which so conveniently landed down the street.  There would be no elastic-waisted pull up pants for me.  No hiding in plus-sized fabrics with the big bow at the top.

So pretend with me a moment.  What would happen if our local big-box stores were no longer?  Without plus-sizes at our fingertips, would our eating patterns change to meet the clothing constrictions? Would we all take up sewing?  Or would we resort to the old puffy style of 'moo moos' - which actually happen to be lovely and comfortable, and quite stylish (on the shores of Hawaii).  What would happen to our children and their eating patterns?  We couldn't rush out to get junior that extra size larger to match his girth-growth spurt.  What if only mom and pop corner groceries were available for daily shopping?  If less junk was available for kids to ingest, would they be able to focus on studies a bit more?

And what about movement?  Without the latest electronic gadget so easy to procure, would we get out and enjoy the air more?  Would we begin taking more walks?  Visiting with friends face to face instead of facebooking?  We could listen to the birds rather than Twittering away our time.  Our bodies would get needed oxygen and sunlight as we moved from place to place, the muscles stretched and contracted as they should be.

Looking ahead in my pretend life, I can see fast-food restaurants closing, since no one can find super-sized clothing to match the super-sized meals.  Super-sized SUV's would go unsold as everyone would feel dwarfed inside them.  The airlines would have to take back all that extra legroom they keep talking (and charging) about.  The diet industry would go belly UP.

Interesting to think about - Yes?

I welcome your thoughts.  What else would change?

Monday, February 1, 2010


Angela at My Year Without Spending has tagged me with a very special award.  I am honored to receive it, and happy to share the information that is requested of me once accepted.  According to the 'rules', I am to share 7 things you wouldn't necessarily know about me.  Here goes:

  1. I do not like drinking milk.  Never have, really.  I can have milk in things, but just can't stomach the thought of sitting down to drink a glass of milk.  Yuck.  Comes from growing up milking goats, I think.
  2. I wish I was a dancer.  I love how they move, how they walk through space.  Long legs and graceful bodies are just glorious to watch.  Wish I could do that, but chose music with my short legs instead.
  3. I want to write a book.  Someday I want to publish.  I don't know what it will be about, but I really want to write one.
  4. I do not like dirt on my hands.  I looooove to garden, but can't stand the feel of dirt on my skin, especially when muddy soil dries on my hands.  I really can't stand it when it gets under my nails.  Makes my skin crawl.  Kinda strange for a gardener - don't ya think?
  5. I always wanted to have many many children.  I have 2 wonderful boys and I wouldn't change that for the world.  But as a child, I always thought I had a minimum of 6 kids. (yikes!)
  6. I would like to live in a house I built myself.  Made of recycled material, wood, glass, etc, I would love to design and build something that would keep me safe, warm, cool and dry for the rest of my days.  Perhaps I'd have a little garden out back and a few animals.  I'd enjoy the quirkiness of the place, and know there was nothing else like it anywhere.  It would have to be off the grid, of course.
  7. Lastly, I wish I could speak another language.  Any other language (beside music).  To be bi-lingual would be dreamy.  Traveling to another country has always made me anxious.  Going somewhere where I already knew the language would be terrific!  A good language to learn would be french, spanish or german.  Or portuguese.  Or argentinian.  
Now, for the second part of this award... I get to pass on the love!

Barbara at Second Surf
Jamie at Inspired Mess

I enjoy each of these blogs for the honesty, creativity and insightful thoughts they share.  Make sure you visit them when you have the chance!

Thanks to Angela for passing on this great award!  You will want to check out her blog as well.  It's full of terrific ideas for cooking, living simply and taking care of the earth in a mindful, less stressful way.  

Have a great day!