Category Archives: Everyday Life

Daily | April

And just like that March slipped away.

I started out planning to take Spring Break week off from blogging. It sounded simple enough. But then I got busy with my daily and with a contract job and homeschool and spring chores and when I looked up it was the last day of March.


I don’t think I ever mentioned it here, but the Daily challenge in March was Organize. And I did some of that. It was a good follow-up to Declutter in February. My files are in better shape. My desk area is (and has stayed) in better shape. There are still some areas to tackle, but gradually things are getting spiffed up.

April has a Daily challenge too, which is perfect timing because….

The daily challenge is the DAILY MILE. And I just bought new running shoes.

So, if you’re interested you can run (or walk) the challenge with me. One mile a day. That’s it. For me, it’ll take about 15 minutes. I’m not speedy yet, and that’s okay. I just want to get out there.


Daily | Whole 30 Wrap-up


We finished our Whole 30 last Friday. Here’s what happened:

When I first suggested this last year Party Boy was not thrilled. The kids even less so. They all only agreed because I kept up the mantra “It’s only 30 days.”

We started on January 4th (a conscious decision that I highly recommend) in order to not set ourselves up for failure over the holidays.

By the end of week one, we had both noticed a difference, just in how we felt. No real cravings. No deprivation. We weren’t walking around starving all the time, which I think was key #1 to making this a success.

At the end of week two, we agreed that this was really working. We liked the food. We felt great. My almost daily headaches were completely gone (I only took Tylenol twice all month – down from a near daily dose of Advil) and he didn’t get sleepy at work in the afternoons. I also kicked my afternoon nap habit.

We were successful in navigating the landmine that is eating out. Most restaurants have something that you can eat. We also discussed and decided that relationships trump food. This way of eating is a choice, not a requirement (no life-threatening allergies), so we eat what is offered and enjoy it, knowing we can start over at the next meal.

We never really felt the effects of “tiger blood,” but that’s okay. Feeling good every day and getting better sleep was good enough for us.

I learned to tolerate coffee that was only “meh.”

I never really panicked about what happens after Whole 30, since we decided halfway through to keep it up.

Going forward:

On weekdays we eat paleo style. This lets us have treats that contain natural sweeteners like honey and maple syrup. It’s nice though, because I don’t really crave them.

I have added stevia to coffee and tea. I can once again enjoy my beverages. The coffee still gets the coconut milk treatment, now with one packet of stevia. It doesn’t really make the coffee sweet, so much as temper the bitter flavor. It does really sweeten the tea.

On weekends we can eat whatever we want. We can go out and if we want pizza, we have pizza. We plan to fail. That makes it easier to get back on the wagon on Monday. There’s no “poor me eating”¬†here. You know what I mean – I ate a slice of pizza, ruined my diet and now I should go ahead and eat an entire package of oreos. Not allowed. Being free to eat what we want on the weekends also keeps us from developing the newest trend in eating disorder.

The results:

I didn’t take measurements before we started, but I know my clothes fit differently. My skinny jeans are looser, for one thing. I lost a total of 8 pounds. Before you write off those results, you need to understand that I didn’t work out. It wasn’t water weight – I drank more water last month than ever. I lost 8 pounds just by making better food choices. That’s it.

Party Boy lost 5 pounds. Again, no measurements, and no working out. Just better food. But he slimmed down enough to be noticeable. And truthfully, that’s how he loses weight, slowly at first, then in a landslide. He’s started to work out agin now that his schedule is more manageable, so I expect that he’ll be shedding pounds like crazy soon.

I’m shocked, honestly. If you had asked me a few months ago if I thought that my “healthy choices” were making me fat, I’d have laughed. I really was trying to eat right. Low fat, etc. And the weight just kept piling on. And I felt gross. And hungry.

Now? I eat what feels like more food. I’m almost never hungry between meals, and I lost weight. It’s crazy.

If you’ve ever considered a Whole 30 I’d encourage you to try it. It’s only 30 days, right?

Tagged ,

Whole 30 | Two Week Check-In


While I wouldn’t categorize the Whole 30 as easy, it hasn’t been terrible either. Two weeks in and here’s the report:

* We will continue this style of diet into the foreseeable future probably 90% of the time. We can both acknowledge that we feel better and sleep better and every other benefit, but we also know that sometimes you just need chips and queso or a big old piece of pizza. So, we’re being realistic too.

* There’s no sense denying that we’ll never eat another sugary morsel. We totally will. But we’ll be moving those back to true treat status and only have them occasionally. And probably no more sodas, since we can’t ever drink just one. We’ll see, I guess.

* No tiger blood. Oh well. ūüėČ

* I had a bad day and wanted to eat the remaining 4 GIANT COSTCO BLUEBERRY MUFFINS. But I didn’t. Cause, let’s be honest. They might be delicious, but I’d feel worse after eating even one, much less four. And that’s really the first time I’ve felt truly tempted to eat something totally off plan. Not too bad, I guess.

* I am pretty sure that I have lost weight. I know for a fact that my clothes fit differently, so there’s that. I guess we’ll find out at the end of next week!

Daily | The Truth About Whole30 Coffee

According to me, of course. You may have an entirely different opinion. And, for the love, if your coffee actually tastes good, do share your magic. It goes without saying that if you drink your coffee black with no sweetener or cream, then you are the real MVP and should totally skip this post written by a coffee pansy.


Whole 30 coffee is gross.

There. I said it.

It was one of my biggest concerns before starting Whole 30. Could I still have coffee? Yes.

Could I still have creamer? Well, no! It’s heavy-laden with sugar! And chemicals! And probably causes cancer! And is delicious!

So, I rolled over to Pinterest to see what I could find. And what I found was loads of blog posts extolling the delicious virtues of coconut milk in your coffee. I was heartened and hopeful. I bought cans of coconut milk (not the stuff in the dairy case, which has added sugar. You want the cans. I found mine near the canned milk at my grocery store).

I tried that day 1, and wound up with black coffee and chunks of slimy coconut goo. Gross.

Back to the blog posts. Ah-ha! I need an immersion blender. I needed one to make mayo anyway, so after church I ran to Target and picked one up. I got this one. Works great.

Monday morning I had coffee with coconut milk, blended with an immersion blender.


But, I muscled through. I choked down that horrible coffee every morning for no other reason than giving up all my favorite foods AND caffeine at the same time seemed like a recipe for disaster. Or murder. Maybe both.

There is nothing delicious about this coffee. Not. One. Thing.

Then I found a blog post that said flavored coffees tasted better with coconut milk. I grabbed a box of French Vanilla coffee. It was…..okay. Not great. Not delicious. But it didn’t gag me either.

Then, more research led me to try it iced, rather than hot.

Better. Still, not great.

The honest truth is this: I probably won’t go back to the creamer, sugar, splash of coffee that I used to drink. It wasn’t a healthy way to start the day and probably contributed heavily to the dreaded mid-afternoon crash. After Whole30 I will most likely stick with the coconut milk, immersion blender, and add some stevia. I think that just a touch of sweet could really put me over the top so far as my opinion of this concoction goes.

So, caveat reader. Let the reader beware. Sometimes, raves about how delicious something is, is in the taste buds of the taster.

TL;DR:* I am barely tolerating Whole30 coffee (black with coconut milk). Flavored coffee is better. I want stevia.

*TL;DR = Too Long; Didn’t Read.


Daily | Eating Out and Other Whole 30 Challenges


Weekends are the hardest. Contrary to what my kids seem to think, we do have a social life. We go out, we eat out. And we have actual real-life friends. Who also like to go out, and eat out.

Which is not entirely easy to do when you’re Whole 30.

Challenge #1 – What’s left that I can eat?

We went to a dinner meeting on Friday. It was a fajita bar. Yay! I love fajitas.

Only, no tortilla chips, no tortillas, no salsa, no cheese dip, no adobo pie (corn)… And that was 3/4 of the buffet. Sad panda. We ate guacamole and sweet potato chips and meat. Because that’s what there was for us. I didn’t ask about what oils had been used or if there was sugar in the guacamole (because you’d be surprised where you find sugar these days!).

Instead, we decided that people are more important than any diet. Relationships, being together, having a nice time, it all trumps my personal choice to eliminate certain foods.

We ate what we could, we walked out feeling pretty good (if a little dehydrated from all the salt) and had a great time with good friends. A successful evening.

Challenge #2 – But I want what I always get….

On Saturday, we wanted to go out just the two of us. We try to do that a couple times a month, usually at least dinner, sometimes a movie.

We wanted to see Taken 3 (I love Liam Neeson), so we decided to go out. There’s a Chili’s next door to our movie theater so I went to their website to see what was up.

They just revamped the whole thing, and they added a bunch of tasty lighter choice options. Bonus! They’ll substitute, too.

It was hard, because I always get the chicken crispers. It was hard not to default to that. But, we were good. I got the Mango-Chile Chicken, subbed the rice for potato wedges and the steamed broccoli. Party Boy had a small cut of steak and broccoli.

Again, full, but not stuffed. I didn’t stress or over analyze every bite. Just enjoyed the meal.

Sidenote: We really like Taken 3. And we didn’t even look at the concession stand.

Challenge #3 – The lies we tell ourselves.

A little sugar never hurts, right?


And salad bars aren’t always a good thing.

We went to Jason’s Deli for lunch on Sunday. I was exhausted, and cooking lunch while my family watched like expectant vultures just didn’t sound all that appealing. My back was hurting (don’t know why, but my lower back was all kinds of sore and my hamstrings were way tight. Ugh).

We ordered the salad bar. And that’s when I discovered that I like the salads I make better than theirs. Huh. The avocado makes a big difference in my salad enjoyment.

I used their balsamic. I decided to just turn a blind eye to the probable inclusion of sugar.

And I had a muffin. It was tiny! Okay, maybe a couple of muffins. They’re really little!

And, it turns out sweet enough to make may mouth feel like it had a coating of glaze. It was unpleasant. I didn’t enjoy it. Party boy had a small plate with a small scoop of banana pudding. It’s his favorite, and he showed great restraint. He didn’t eat much of it. Too sweet.

And Monday, we paid. It was serious sugar hangover. Neither of us slept well Sunday night. We were grumpy and out of sorts on Monday morning. And Monday afternoon we hit the slumps. The slumps that we shook last week.

So. Not. Worth. It.

We’re back on track now. And feeling better.

What I learned…

1. We used to eat way too much sugar.

2. The food we eat really does have more effect on us than just extra pounds.

3. This style of diet probably needs to be a forever way of life, with some caveats. I’ll write a little more about that later, though.

Now that I can say I am cleanly back on the wagon, I need to figure out this coming weekend. Failure to plan is planning to fail, right?


My Great Big Whole 30 Meal Record


This is what I am eating while doing Whole 30, as well as my thoughts on each meal in italics.


3 eggs, fried over-medium (in ghee), served over a handful of spinach;¬†1 Aidell’s Chicken and Apple Sausage link;¬†1 cup of mixed berries OR monkey salad (1 sliced banana, small handful cashews, coconut flakes)

Thoughts: This was the go-to breakfast. Got it down to a science every morning. LOVE the sausage!



** Tuna salad (tuna, 3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped green onions, diced seedless grapes, homemade mayo), served on butter lettuce leaves; Sliced apple with spoonful of almond butter

Thoughts: This was good. Be careful about using light tasting olive oil in your mayo, otherwise it is super strong flavored.

** Salad mix with 1/2 avacado, tomatoes, chopped hard-boiled egg, sliced orange, shredded chicken, and Tessemae’s dressing;¬†Sliced apple with spoonful of almond butter

Thoughts: Very good. I’m not a salad fan, but this was good. Party Boy liked it, but missed the shredded cheese.

** Chicken Avocado Roll-ups

Thoughts: Good. I made three, but two was plenty! Party Boy ate all three, but he even commented that it was bordering on too much food.



** Lemon Pepper Chicken, grilled; Dinner Salad; Carrots, cooked

Thoughts: Really, really good. We will be adding this one to our regular dinner rotation.

** Baked Tilapia; Dinner Salad; Baked Sweet Potatoes (made in crock pot)

Thoughts: I put way too much Tony Chachere’s on the fish. It was SPICY. The sweet potatoes were delish.

** Spaghetti Squash; Homemade marinara (2 lbs. ground beef, 4 cans crushed tomatoes, Italian seasoning, Oregano); Dinner Salad

Thoughts: Really good. I actually like the sauce better than the canned stuff, so will probably continue to make my own. The spaghetti squash was really good, but it wasn’t spaghetti. So, I’ll probably use it more often, but still have the real stuff occasionally as a treat meal.

** Paleo Almond Chicken Fingers; Sauteed zucchini and squash

Thoughts: I loved the breading on the chicken fingers. Loved. It. But, I accidentally overcooked the chicken, so it was drier than I would have liked. Totally my fault and I plan to make these again because they were really delicious.

** Hamburgers (we make our own patties with egg and Worcestershire sauce – a Whole 30 no-no. So, I made my own using this recipe); oven baked potato wedges with homemade ketchup.

Thoughts: The burgers were really, really good. I kind of liked them better with the homemade¬†Worcestershire¬†sauce. The wedges were¬†okay, I need a little more practice and probably¬†different¬†potatoes to get them crispy. The ketchup won’t win any “I¬†can’t believe it’s not Heinz” contests, but it was really tasty. The tomato flavor really came through.

** Taco Salad (used this recipe for the seasoning, which I layered over lettuce and topped with pico de gallo) with Creamy Avacado-Cilantro Dressing

Thoughts: O.M.G. I LOVED this meal. LOVEEEEED. Like had two helpings, loved. Granted I had a very small bowl to start, but it was soooooooo good. And that dressing – delicious!

Daily | Whole 30 Day 6


It’s Friday and that alone bears celebrating! Yay!

So, we’ve made it to day 6. Here’s some thoughts as we near the end of the first week of Whole 30:

  • Party Boy is chickened out. The man is ready for some other form of protein. It’s not that we’ve had a ton of chicken. And not in the same form. There’s been shredded chicken in his lunch salads, but that’s hardly the star of the show. Anyway, I am going to plan some other sources of protein to mix it up next week.
  • I went to bed with a pretty terrible head ache on Tuesday. I got up after tossing and turning for a couple of hours and took some Tylenol (Whole 30 asks that you stay away from NSAIDs if possible – doctors orders trump Whole 30 of course! – so while Advil is my usual go-to, Tylenol worked just fine.) and laid back down. The headache subsided and I slept pretty well after that.
  • Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday in the afternoon we would both just start to d.r.a.g. I can only speak for myself in severity, but I could hardly keep my eyes open. Thursday was way better, with absolutely no lag in the afternoon. Hoping that becomes a habit, because in the past I would usually go grab coffee or a snack to keep going. I’d love to give that horrible habit up!
  • I haven’t really had a physical need to snack, except for a couple of times. Once, I just ignored the cues and waited til my next meal – dinner. That was probably a mistake as I was CRANKY by the time dinner was ready. The next time it happened I chose to have a piece of fruit and a little bit of almond butter. I made it to dinner much easier, without the crankiness.
  • I am not leaving much left behind at mealtimes. But I also don’t go back for seconds. I am full after the first plate of food – half the plate with veggies, a bit of protein, and a healthy fat. No seconds needed. And usually my plate is pretty clean.
  • On that note, we went to Le Madeleine for dinner on Wednesday. Me and a couple of my friends meet for Wednesday dinner every week (or as often as we can). Le Madeleine will make you an omelette anytime, so that’s what I got. It came with a croissant the size of my face, but I passed that off to Chaos. I had like three bites of omelette on my plat when one of the busboys came by and asked if he could take my plate. Ummmm, no. I want every bite thankyouverymuch. Resisted the urge to slap his hand away.
  • We are on our 7th carton of eggs this week. So, I bought the kids cereal. It’s the lowest sugar cereal that I thought they would actually eat. So far, so good. And it cut our egg consumption considerably.
  • I have slept SOOOOO GOOOD the past couple of nights. Like, fall into bed, fall asleep in less than 10 minutes sleep. I can’t even remember having that happen without some serious outside all day in the sun work days. So nice. And I wake up easier too.

And that about wraps it up. I am working on a Whole 30 Food Diary that I will publish tomorrow and update¬†with everything that we’ve eaten this month as we go through it.

Daily | Whole 30 Day 2+3


It’s the morning of day 3. ¬†Hanging in there, folks. I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t difficult. Because it is difficult.

I think we all have this idea that we don’t eat that much sugar, but the reality is that there’s a lot of sugar out there that we don’t even know we’re eating. I figured that out when I went shopping on Sunday. Sugar in pickles? Really?!?

Anyway, yesterday was good. The hardest part was not just picking something up for dinner after evening activities. I had to come home and cook and deal with the three little children dancing around begging for snacks and food in the 20 minutes it took me to get dinner on the table. I won’t lie, the lack of sugar makes me a little short tempered, but I am proud to say that I gritted my teeth and powered through. Nobody died. I didn’t even yell. Yay me!

Both Party Boy and I ended up with an afternoon cup of coffee yesterday. By about 2 p.m. we were sitting in the office barely able to stay awake. Let me tell you, if you can drink a cup of coffee with coconut milk (after drinking the way we have for years – creamer with a splash of coffee) you REALLY need the caffeine. So, two cups of coffee with coconut milk and cinnamon. Which tastes like death. [Note: I did find that it was better using French Vanilla coffee. Plain coffee? Urgh]

The biggest issue I have had so far is appropriately estimating how much food we would eat. I had to run to Whole Foods this morning for more salad dressing and eggs. I picked up more coconut milk and coconut aminos while I was there. Bonus! I got to use Apple Pay for the first time. Loved it!

So, so far, so good, I guess. I’ve had a mild headache this morning. It comes and goes. Drinking more water…

Oh! Here’s a real positive: I have stopped buying cereal for the kids (mainly because I was afraid I would “trip and fall” face first into the cereal box with my mouth open…). Now they have to eat eggs for breakfast. I scramble them each two eggs and they eat, then start their school work. Attitudes are MUCH improved (no sugar crash?) and school work is being done in record time-ish.

So if nothing else? There’s that.

Daily | Whole 30 Day 1


So, we didn’t actually start Whole 30 on the 1st. That was a judgement call based on what the Whole 30 means, and their instructions. We needed a time that we wouldn’t be tempted, there wouldn’t be any celebrations, etc. so I decided that starting the day before our anniversary and 2 days before a big date night wouldn’t be the smartest thing. I don’t need extra pressure eating out right at the beginning.

We started yesterday, January 4th. I won’t lie, it wasn’t easy starting on a Sunday. Getting up earlier to make breakfast and still get everyone out the door on time? Ugh. We did it, though. Note: I need to build in more time so I don’t come home from church to a messy kitchen.¬†


This will be an everyday breakfast. I don’t have the energy to come up with 30 different breakfasts. We may mix it up a little on Saturdays, but this will be the go-to.

Three eggs over-easy (fried in clarified butter, aka ghee – from Costco), served over a handful of spinach. One Aidell’s Chicken and Apple Sausage. One half-cup of mixed berries. I had coffee with coconut milk – gross, but I drank it – trying a new way of making it this morning. Party Boy had water with lemon.


Tuna salad (tuna, green onions, chopped grapes) with homemade mayo. I used this method and it turned out great and was super-easy. Note: I had to use regular olive oil instead of lighter tasting because I couldn’t get the lighter oil open and I had 4 people crying and dying from hunger standing around me. I made it work. The mayo was a little strong though, so I didn’t use a whole lot in the tuna.¬†Chief¬†complaint: “The tuna is dry. How can something from the ocean be dry?”

Served the tuna on butter lettuce with grape tomatoes. Apple slices with almond butter. Water. Also a homemade pickle – because store pickles had high fructose corn syrup in them. What?!?


Lemon-pepper chicken from Stupid Easy Paleo (we grilled ours), carrots, salad with tomatoes, avacado, cashews, almonds, and Tessemae’s Zesty Ranch (from Whole Foods). All was delicious.

Thoughts: My kids complained for days when I said we’d be doing this because they know that I won’t cook two meals. And then today they gobbled up everything I put out. So….

Party Boy is a little more on board. He has always equated eating better with deprivation and hunger pangs. But that is not the point of this plan. It’s about cutting out sugar and other additives. Making better food choices. So, he was full after each meal and a happy camper. He misses cheese.

I’m good so far. I am braced for the detox that I know is probably coming. I’ll update later this week.


One Little Word | Discover

Time again to wrap-up my One Little Word¬ģ for the year. 2014 was the year of discovery (discover) for me. How’d I do?



I didn’t set any real, measureable goals, which was both good and bad. The good? It left me free to really explore the word. The bad? I can’t really gauge how I did with my word.

Maybe I just needed a year to wander, and if that’s the case, then this was definitely that year. I started 2014 in Nashville, TN. There were oodles of day trips and another big trip to Maui. Definitely a year for discovering new places, new foods, and new experiences.

I also discovered a new love for my garden, which was bigger and produced a large volume of vegetables. Then I discovered that weeding is not fun and pretty soon the garden looked like a jungle.

I discovered the value of challenging yourself.

Lots of little discoveries. A few big ones. It was a year to discover. So, in that way, I guess it was a successful year.

Just for fun, I went back and looked up my OLW’s from years past:

2008 – Joy

2009 – Wonder

2010 – Reach

2011 – Focus

2012 – Create

2013 – Story

2014 – Discover

One thing really stands out to me from all of the OLW posts that I have written and it is this: Every word that I have chosen has taken on a new meaning throughout the year. It never ends up meaning what I thought it would mean on January 1.

Here’s to new words, new experiences, and a new year. Welcome 2015!

The One Little Word concept was started by Ali Edwards. You can read more about it on Ali’s Blog.

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