Friday, September 23, 2011

This Week's Menu

Here it meal plan for the week:

It's not pretty, but it gets the job done :)

I'm super excited to try tomorrow night's dinner...the white lasagne!  I just found it online the other day here and I knew I had to try it soon.  The portion size sounds pretty hearty too, so I'm looking forward to that!  I'll let you know what I think about it.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Happiness Is...

Like I told you yesterday, happiness is my babies.  My big girl ended up being sent straight to bed at 5:45 tonight for being nasty.  As nasty as I was tempted to be right back to her, I snuggled her and kissed her and told her I had to send her to bed early so she can learn to be a nice girl.  I always try to emphasize that I don't like punishing, it's just what I have to do to teach her to be a nice friend.  Oh...three year olds! 

She's still my happiness :)  Her hair is crazy and unmanageable, she hates to brush her teeth, she'd rather not wear underwear (even under her tutus!) and she makes a mess with everything.  But she's MY mess.  She has made my life 100 times better than I ever thought it could be.  I love my girls!!

What's your happiness?  Join the blog hop here!

The One with the Meal Planning

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

I've found that if I'm going to be successful with losing weight, I HAVE to know ahead of time what I'm going to eat.  If I just wait to see "what I feel like", obviously I'm going to feel like pulling the mocha fudge brownies out of the freezer and eat them all for breakfast (and lunch and dinner). 

Several years ago I started planning everything I ate, from breakfast all the way up through what snack I was going to eat while watching The Biggest Loser.  It helped a lot when I wanted something but didn't know what I wanted.  I just looked at my meal plan.  This is the sheet I made up to plan with:

I write the date in (this could work as a dry erase, but I print a fresh one every week.) and the points plus values I'm alloted for the day.  As I write in a food, I put the ppv beside it.  I always start with dinner.  I like to cook a nice meal for my family and I want to be able to enjoy it with them so I always make sure I'm going to have enough ppv remaining for the day to enjoy a nice meal.  One day next week I'm having manicotti.  It's 12 ppv for 2 manicotti, plus I plan to have one piece of garlic bread for 4 ppv and a salad.  Since the meal itself is so big, I'll be careful on the toppings on the salad and keep the ppv low.  However, I won't determine the amount of ppv I'll use on the salad until I've planned the rest of the day.  Whew...this is a lot of words! 

On days I have a high ppv dinner planned, I'll take it easy for breakfast and lunch.  Maybe a salad, maybe just a big bowl of fruit for breakfast (0 ppv for those!!)  I just have to make it work.  If I don't have a plan, I'll binge and eat off of the girls' plates and we all know that's not good!

Well, I'm off to work out my meal plan for next week.  When it's done I'll post it, maybe I'll give you some inspiration...I know I'm always looking for new meal ideas!!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The One with the Blog Hop

Hey everyone!  Are you into blog hops?  I'm participating in my first one...go here to join and meet fellow bloggers :)


The One with all the Bragging

I LOVE my girls.  I mean, I'm so madly in love with them I can't even stand it.  They are the light of my world.  They're the smartest little girls that ever existed.  They are sweet and thoughtful and caring.  I'm taking this post to brag on my babies for a few minutes. 

My three year old is so imaginitive.  Give this kid a cardboard box and a wooden spoon and she'll take you on adventures you never thought possible.  She's a princess, a ballerina and a mommy.  She's a pirate, she's a firefighter, she's an animal rescuer.  She will cook you a gourmet meal in her toy kitchen, pack it up and take you on a picnic.  She will fix you up in her doctor's office if you ever have a boo boo.  She takes such good care of her puppies in her vet clinic.  She colors pictures in such detail and tells the story that goes along with it.  She dances and plays and runs around like crazy, all of it with purpose.  She savors every minute of her life.  She loves who she is.  She sets a good example to me.  She shows me how to love, how to appreciate the little things, how to "stop and smell the roses"...literally! 

My one year old shows love with a passion.  She is the most affectionate baby I've ever known.  She greets me in the morning with a big smile, a sweet kiss, and a hug that I can feel in the core of my soul.  This is honest love.  This is how everyone should love.  She loves me for me.  She doesn't care if I'm a few pounds overweight, she doesn't care if I fix her mac and cheese and chicken nuggets for dinner every night (I don't!), she doesn't care if my kitchen is a mess and laundry is left unfolded in baskets for weeks.  She just loves.  Unconditionally.

My girls are such a blessing to me.  I'm so blessed that God loves me enough to let me be their mommy.  I don't always remember how blessed I am with the day-in, day-out routine that gets very mundane, but I always know it.  I've been trying so hard to set aside time for my girls.  It's easy to get wrapped up in being a homemaker.  I need to remember what I call myself...a stay at home MOM.  I need to be a mom first.  These babies mean the world to me and I need to show them how much they mean to me, just like they show their love for me.

One quick quote from my big girl:

She was outside playing with ice (which quickly turned to water) and she told me, "Mommy, I sawed a bug in my water in my red bowl so I hit it with this spoon. And that bug said, "ouch, M. That hurted me." And then the bug stopped being alive. He died."

And a quote from my little one:
"go go go go go go" (to the dog)  :)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Self Control

I know it's only day 3 of my weight loss journey, but I have to say I'm pretty proud of myself!  I've tracked everything I've eaten, avoided the girls' leftovers like they're covered in cooties and haven't had another diet soft drink.  Go me!  But...I did get on the scale this morning.  I know you're only supposed to weigh yourself once a week because your weight can fluctuate so much within a week.  However, I just couldn't resist.  I woke up this morning feeling skinnier.  One look in the mirror, I knew I wasn't, but at least I felt a little lighter...must be all that fiber I'm consuming!!  Anyway, back to the scale.  I was exactly 2 pounds lighter than I was Sunday morning!  What?!?!  If I keep losing weight at the rate of a pound a day I'll be where I want to be by Halloween!  HA!  If only it worked that way...

So, I'm off to a good start and I couldn't be happier with myself.  Here's a recipe for the soup I had for dinner tonight:

TGI Friday's Black Bean Soup

2 Tbsp vegetable oil
3/4 c diced wiht onion
3/4 c diced celery
1/2 c diced carrot
1/4 c diced green bell pepper
2 Tbsp minced garlic (I use 3 large cloves)
4 15 oz cans black beans
4 c chicken broth
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp liquid hickory smoke (all I could find at my grocery stores was mesquite and it worked too...just might not taste like TGI Friday's, which I've never had anyway so I don't know the difference) :)

Garnish: shredded cheddar/monterey jack cheese blend and chopped green onion

1. Heat 2 Tbsp of oil in a large saucepan over medium/low heat. Add onion, celery, carrot, bell pepper, and garlic to the oil and simmer slowly (sweat) for 15 minutes or until the onions are practically clear. Keep the heat low enough that the veggies don't brown.

2. While you cook the veggies, pour the canned beans into a strainer and rinse them under cold water.

3. Measure 3 cups of the drained and rinsed beans into a food processor with 1 cup of chicken broth. Puree on high speed until smooth. (2 cans of beans is about 3 cups, so if you just drain/rinse 2 cans first, then you can puree those if you don't want to measure out the 3 cups)

4. When the veggies are ready, pour the pureed beans, the whole beans, the rest of the chicken broth, and every other ingredient in the list (down to the liquid smoke), to the pot. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 50 to 60 minutes or until soup has thickened and all the ingredients are tender. Serve the soup topped with a couple tablespoons of the cheese blen and a teaspoon or so of chopped green onion.

Makes 6 1 cup servings.

I was also thinking if you didn't want to puree the beans in a food processor you could use one of those immersible blenders (hand blender) and puree some of the soup right in the pot. I HATE having to wash my food processor and I'm thinking of buying one of those little blenders just for this soup...ok, I have other uses for it too, but I REALLY love this soup so I think I'd make it more often if I didn't have to use the food processor.
1 Cup of this soup has 6 WW PP values (be sure to recheck your ingredients as some may differ, these are the values for my particular brands).  I added 1 oz of shredded cheedar cheese for an additional 3 PP.  Also served with a piece of frozen garlic bread for 4 more PP.  A nice, yummy, healthy, full of fiber AND protien dinner for 13 PP values.  Not bad, eh?  (no, I'm not Canadian)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Days 2, 3, 4, and 5

The Photography challenge is going ok.  I am definitely more conscious of picking up the camera now.  The problem is I think I'm trying too hard.  I'm trying to do different angles and playing with the settings on my camera.  These are good things, but I'm messing it all up.  I honestly think the best picture I've taken this week was one I took with my iPhone!  Oh my...I REALLY need to learn how to use my camera better.  Oh well, I may not be a professional, but at least I'll have pictures of my girls throughout their childhood.  I just feel like I need to be using my camera to its full potential and keeping it on auto (because I mess up everything when I adjust the settings) is giving me "point and shoot" results. 

Ok, I'm going to stop complaining about my lack of skills now.  :)  Enjoy the photos!

Day 2:  What you wore today.

 It's a pretty plain shirt so I had to focus on the "pretty".  :)

Day 3:  Clouds

I hadn't looked at what the challenge was for the day until it was already dark outside.  Oops!  Thank God it was such a gorgeous morning with interesting clouds first thing in the morning.  I snapped this shot with my cell phone!

Day 4:  Something green

This is my sweet gardenia that we planted a few months ago.  The poor thing gets so many buds but they quickly turn brownish black and fall off.  I had to capture a picture of it while it was still green!

Day 5:  From a high angle

If you consider standing on a chair in front of the loveseat a "high" angle :)  I love that I was able to capture this rare moment of my girls loving each other!


Sometime during the summer I had this great idea.  The idea was to spoil my family...well, sort of.  Remember back in "the day" when you'd come home from school and have a snack of warm cookies straight out of the oven dipped in a cold glass of milk?  Mmmmm...I'm salivating just thinking about all that chocolately goodness!  I want my girls to look forward to Mom's desserts.  I want them to grow up appreciating the finer things.  So often today we live by convenience.  I'm guilty of it!  But I want them to know that sometimes the wait is worth it.  The time and energy you put in to things can make a lot of difference if you're patient enough to work for it. 

Two of my favorite things to make from scratch are carrot cake and cheesecake.  We start out by shredding the carrots with a good ol' cheese grater.  It's messy but the texture of the carrots is PERFECT that way.  I've used the food processor in the past when I was in a hurry but they're not a good, and it makes a lot more dishes to wash!

So, back to the great idea I had...I planned on making one dessert every week.  When the dessert runs out, that's it.  We'd have to wait until the following week to enjoy the next dessert.  The plan of having desserts in the house was a good one before yesterday.  Yesterday I started following Weight Watchers again so I have to be more careful with the desserts! I almost didn't make a dessert this week (hubby's out of town so I didn't want to be tempted to eat the whole thing!).  Then I thought more about it and realized the true test of losing weight isn't in deprivation, it's in self control.  I can't live the rest of my life completely avoiding foods that are bad for me.  I can't avoid situations where food is served that doesn't "fit in" to my lifestyle.  I have to exercise self control if I really want the results I'm looking for.

So, baby girl and I headed out for our weekly groceris and I picked up a box brownie mix.  (I know, I know, I cheated!)  To be honest, I've made brownies from scratch before and they never turn out the same for me.  I don't know what I do differently every time, but this time I opted for the box. 

The brownies have been in the oven for exactly 10 minutes and my house smells like a Starbucks!  Starbucks??  you say?  Yes, Starbucks.  I didn't opt for regular brownies, I went with mocha fudge brownies!  OH. MY. GOODNESS.  If this isn't going to be the biggest test in self control, I don't know what is!  Feast your eyes on this:

Ok, I could've done without the family size box, I'll admit it!  I just have this obsession with checking the unit price and this was cheaper than the smaller box.  I need to stop that sometimes, especially when it comes to my weight loss!  It's worth it to pay a little more sometimes for a little less temptation.

So, what's the WWPP value of these babies??  5.  The 9x13 dish will get cut into 20 brownies and each one will have a value of 5 points plus.  YIKES!  Thank God for those flex points being built in every week.  I figure I can eat 2 of these this week.  I'm going to wrap them individually and freeze most of them.  I'll keep out 2 for me, 2 for my big girl and 1 for the baby and the other 15 will get put in the freezer for another week.

*Note.  They're done now (and giving me the stare down from the countertop where they're cooling!!).  The box said bake 28-31 minutes.  Do NOT bake them that long.  The edges are crispy and there's no softness to the center like I prefer.  I did them 28 minutes.  Next time I'll try 25.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Baby Weight

When I was expecting my first child, I remember reading something that said "Don't expect the baby weight to come off immediately.  It took nine months to gain the weight, give yourself nine months to lose it."  Well, my youngest daughter turned 9 months old on June 2nd.  Now the weight is mine, not hers :(

Let's step back for a minute...when my oldest daughter was born in June 2008, I dropped most of the baby weight in two weeks.  When she was just 2 1/2 months old, my husband and I went on Weight Watchers together.  We didn't attend meetings, I just planned our meals and we stuck to our points allowance for the day and tried to stay active.  Niether of us was going to the gym, but we took family walks together in the evenings and played in the back yard with the dog a lot.  Within a few months we had both lost so much weight.  I was about 30 pounds below my prepregnancy weight and back into size 10 clothes.  I felt good about myself.  I felt in control.  I was happy.  Then in April 2009 hubby went overseas and my bad eating habits all came flooding back.  The bored eating, the lonely eating, the feeling sorry for myself eating.  The pounds starting creeping back on.  I was fully aware of it, but the more weight I gained, the more I beat myself up for it, the more I felt bad about myself, the more I ate.  What a vicious cycle! 

In early January 2010 I found out I was pregnant with daughter #2.  Imagine my relief!  I could stop beating myself up over the weight gain.  Now it was ok to gain weight.  YAY!  I remembered how easy it was to lose the weight after the first baby so I wasn't worried about it after the second.  What a mistake that was!  I gained almost 40 pounds with my second pregnancy.  Yes, she was a big girl weighing in at 8 pounds 6 oz, but most of that weight took up residence in my butt and thighs.  Seriously, I used to "joke" about my butt looking pregnant before my front!  Unfortunately it wasn't a was the truth.  Yuck.

So here I am, over a year past the birth of my second daughter and I am starting the battle to lose weight again. This isn't the first time since her birth I've started this journey, but this is the time I'm going to win.  I'm actually only carrying about 5 pounds more than what I weighed when I got pregnant, but I had already gained about 25 pounds before I got pregnant.  Side note:  This is the first time I'm putting it all into writing.  Really, it's the first time I've let myself do the math.  It's frightening to think I was about to gain 25 pounds in 9 months without being makes me nauseous to think about it.

Today I started following the Weight Watchers Points Plus program again.  I'm not planning to go to meetings, just hoping to keep up the motivation to lose the weight for good this time. 

So, what did I do to get started?  First, I weighed myself.  YUCK.  I don't think I'll ever make friends with a scale!  Then I sat down and made out my weekly menu.  I planned all of my dinners, figured out the points for those dinners, including any sides.  Then I looked at how many points plus values I had remaining for the day.  My next most important meal is breakfast so I figured out what breakfasts I want to prepare for me and the girls, then planned lunches and snacks with the points that were left over.  Oh, and I was sure to keep my 4 points per day for my coffee!!

My goals for this week: 
  • DON'T EAT OFF THE GIRLS' PLATES!!!!  It's ok to throw food away.  Don't eat it just because it's there.  Most of the time I pick off of their plates, I find myself saying why am I eating this?  It's not even good.  That's just the habit I've gotten myself into.
  • Drink more water.  I've really been slacking on the water.  I've been drinking a lot more diet sodas lately.  I'll limit myself to 4 diet sodas a week.  I used to drink 1-2 per day.  (I had one today)
Wish me luck!!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Day 1

Day 1:  Self-Portrait

I can't stand self-portraits.  I either look like a horse or like I've been arrested on drunk driving charges...remember Nick Nolte?  Here's a reminder:

Ok, maybe I don't look quite that bad, but we are our own worst critic and I'm pretty hard on myself!

Here's my "mug shot" from today.  I was having some playtime in the back yard with my 3 year old and had her sit on my lap for a picture of the two of us. 

I'm looking forward to pictures of myself without braces in a few months!!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


I've been having a hard time picking up my camera lately.  The iPhone is just so convenient that often my Nikon sits quietly up on the bar just waiting to be used.  Some days I pick it up and get frustrated because I don't know how to use it to it's full potential.  I get some good shots, but I know I can get much better ones.  I found this list on a fellow blogger's blog and thought I'd try it out for myself.  Starting tomorrow, September 15, 2011.  (Please do me a favor and don't compare my photography to hers...hers is WAY better!! I'm just getting started.)  I know it's unconventional to start a "30 day challenge" in the middle of the month, but I can be an unconventional kind of person.  Besides, I think I've started every new diet, or any new "habit" I want to start, on Mondays.  And those haven't worked out so great...maybe I should start on a Wednesday next time :)

Enjoy the challenge!!

Meet and Greet

Hi there! I just decided to get back into the world of blogging.  I'm not a professional by any means, so don't expect any deep thought from me :)  What I hope to get out of this blog is a good journal of my kids' lives as they grow.  Along the way I hope to make you laugh at the silly thing my 3 year old says (and things the baby will say when she gets older), give you some cute craft ideas (if I come up with any...), share my meal planning and preparation with you (I've got some ideas up my sleeve), and just let you have a peek into our lives. 

A little about me.  I'm 32 years old and a stay at home mom of two beautiful little girls.  I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania.  I joined the Army when I was 18 and gave 10 1/2 years of service, both on active duty and in the PA Guard.  My husband and I moved to Texas nine months before daughter number 1 was born and I've been a stay at home mom ever since.  I love my life but struggle with it as well.  I always said if I became a stay at home mom I wouldn't lose myself.  I would stay who I am and not be identified as a wife and mother.  Well, it's happening.  I'm Sarah, the mom.  I'm trying to work through redefining myself as Sarah while still being a dedicated mommy.  It's a delicate balance, I'm learning!  I really feel like my girls need to see me as an individual and not just in the role of mom and wife.  I need to do this for them as much as for me...but now I'm straying and this is a topic for another blog another day! 

I hope you'll follow along on this journey!