Friday, July 27, 2012

A Foodie Mission To Learn Risotto

I've watched a lot of Gordon Ramsey the last two him.  Come to think of it, I need to like him on facebook like a good fan should!  BRB!


His cooking is so natural and perfect.  I don't like his mouth but I think a lot of that is show.  There are many sides to him that you see on different shows so if you only know him from "Hell's Kitchen" please look around for more of his stuff.  My friend Laura told me to watch his show on Hulu "The F Word".  I was immediately not sure with the title but the F word is "food".  Yes, he knew it would draw attention, or someone in his marketing did.

Anyway, I have been wanting to try to make risotto for the longest time.  It's just an Italian way of making rice but it's a little complicated in that you add the liquid one ladle at a time and have to really baby it as it cooks.  One of the most popular risottos are with one of mine and Rick's favorite ingredients, mushrooms.  It also contains one of our other favorite ingredients, Parmesan cheese. So, I'm gong to try to make a basic mushroom risotto.  I got really inspired when I found a five lb. bag of Arborio rice, used to make risotto, at the grocery discount for three bucks.

I hear it can be a little tricky to make.  I liked this video that showed it step by step.

One his show, "The F Word", Gordon adds a spoonful of creme fraiche to the risotto.  I have always wanted to know what this and I not only found out but found out a cheaper way to make it here:
I'll let you know how it turns out.  Has anyone tried it and had success?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Blowing Up A Weight Loss Myth

I've always held to the idea that you should NEVER buy bigger clothes when you want to loose weight.  I've held to that idea for years.  The thought is that if you are uncomfortable, you will not eat as much and you will get more serious about weight loss.  I recently was forced into a situation that led me to find this not true, and had some other revelations about myself along the way.

As I've said lately on my Sensa Weightloss posts, I'm the heaviest I've been outside of pregnancies.  So I was really feeling awful the last few months in my clothes, especially jeans and pants.  I was forced to do what I dreaded doing and buy that darn next size up.  What I discovered amazed me and blew a huge myth out of the water for me....

I felt fabulous!!!

I did not expect this.  I've not really let myself do it before.  Suddenly, I felt like I looked right in my clothes.  Now days I see women everywhere cramming themselves into clothing that causes all manner of unsightly bulges everywhere.  I have a pet peeve for bulges, I avoid them at all costs.  So what I would do is wear my soft pants or yoga pants until I felt better.  This time I worked out and worked on it and was not feeling better.  In fact, what I was wearing was depressing me more and making me feel defeated.  When you feel defeated you have a major disadvantage....

you don't want to move at all, not to mention get out and get going!

Now, mind you, there is always the problem that you will just forget all together about your goal for change but I noticed that when I felt better, I was MORE motivated.  I felt like I'd made immediate progress (of course I'd not but it was mentally just as rewarding to feel good in what I wore).  It finally occurred to me that this was true when I was watching a Fly Lady video yesterday about getting up and getting dressed head to toe when you start your day because feeling good motivates you.  That is exactly what this was.  I felt I could get out, go do, accomplish instead of feeling painful and uncomfortable and way frumpy in my outfit. My clothes not feeling good made me want to hide and it made me feel so discouraged.

Thankfully, I found a few good deals on Gap and Levi jeans at the Goodwill as well as a few tops that I love.      Otherwise, yes this could be very expensive so I would not recommend putting much money into it, after all, the goal is to be out of those clothes soon.  On that note though, it made me think that I was going to change something else about my attitude regarding my weight.  I was going to.....

be okay with my weight wherever it was.  

That is not so say I was not going to set goals to loose, but while I was wherever I was, I wanted to be continually content with it.  It sounds like I'm contradicting myself but I'm not.  It's the same concept as being content with your finances yet still saving up more.  Being okay where you are for the time you are there while you work to make it to another place.  I'd never thought of this before and my clothes were a huge conduit to how content I was with my body.  One practical way I'm going to do this is to stop getting rid of my "big" clothes.  I've done this before, tossed them out!  Somehow I thought doing that would make me never go back where I was.  You know what though, life and my waistline are always changing!!!  I need to be okay with it and always work to make it better all at once.  So, I'm going to keep a tote of "big" clothes just as I have the one I have called "too small" in my storage.  Honestly, this concept is very freeing to me.  I'm not sure what all the psychology is behind it but it's been a powerful revelation.

For the fact is, and this also I've noticed lately, women of all sizes can be stunning.  They may not be meat market sexy in temporal terms, but why should that by my goal anyway?  The meat market is an unhappy endless discontent.  Even the gorgeous ones don't feel like they are, we all know that.  It's really a focus of getting male attention at that point.  That should never be my goal.  I want to do the best with what I have always, and get the attention of one man.  Do you know what wonderful thing he said to me too????  When I was telling him these revelations I've had and told him the crazy number the scale has me at right now he said "You really wear it well".

What a man.  I knew we both needed to be honest that we noticed my situation, we agree that I need to make goals to change it, but he was truly content with me as I was.  I've never let myself be that, for myself.

So, I highly recommend going on a chubby shopping spree and getting stuff that makes you want to live your life!  Set goals and work for them, and love it all along the way.  I don't want to always miss my life shooting for something that will come and go.  My life does not have to come and go with it. My drawer and my storage should be ready to make me feel good at any size.

Perhaps some people all ready get these things....I'm probably just dense.  I'm happy to have realized it, and I just hope this encourages someone else feeling the same way.  I guess we live in a culture that makes it hard to see the more true obvious things.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Mom's Balancing Work and Home

I was completely at home for nearly 14 years.  When we got married I worked for an organization that did day programs for the disabled.  Specifically, they worked with brain damaged adults, many who were born normal but injured in their late teens when the brain is very susceptible to permanent damage.  My first job ever was actually in this field as well.  I was sixteen when I became a supervisor on an assembly line of piece work jobs for the disabled.  I grew up with a disabled brother so I was able to get the job by experience and connections.  I was also homeschooled at the time so I was able to work and do my schooling as well.
I quit working when I was pregnant with our eldest mainly because the road to work was so windy, I started my work day by puking and that got old fast.

I've done some childcare for friends and worked at a day care but did not really take on part time hours till last summer.  The economy has pushed yet another family into having to do this.  I don't mind and I'm thankful for the good job I have but my heart is definitely in the home.

One of my big struggles and convictions is that if I work, my home and family has to come first.  This is so hard to do!  I was working 24 hours a week but am now down to 18 for a while.  Just being out of the home makes it hard to be motivated when I am there.  I only have so much time before I go and only so much when I get back.  I don't know how other mom's feel, but it's a challenge for me to keep up.  Here are a few things I've learned and am learning still:

  • Don't be a perfectionist:  Making the home the main goal does not mean it has to be perfect all the time.  Don't worry if the whole job does not get done perfectly, be prepared to do it in segments.  Eventually it will get done. 
  • Don't get distracted:  I actually have some computer time at work right now as we are in our down season but I try to stay off screens at home to stay productive.  Sleeping in (especially with the kids home for summer), tv, or piddling are something I am trying to weed out.  I try to do something while watching shows or do things on commercials if we watch anything. 
  • Keep the kids organized (as much as possible):  It takes me having it together to tell them to keep it together.  When school is on, it's not so hard.  Right now they are home while I work so they need to be kept on task to keep up while I'm gone.  There is nothing like coming home to a pig pen after work.  My kids are GREAT about getting things done when I leave a checklist.  They are awesome at it and I'm proud of them.  They have had to learn to do somethings for themselves this last year, and work out some stuff between each other without us there and it has really matured them.  Sometimes God uses your not so perfect circumstances to do those things and it encouraged me.  
  • Make days home count:  I have to really have a plan for my days home.  Sometimes that plan is to do something fun with the kids or as a family.  Other times, it's to really catch up on the housework or errands.  I have to not let them just slip through my fingers.
  • Capture the tiny times and tasks:  I'm really learning to do things 15 min at a time.  To shoot to do one thing and get it done fully no matter how tiny it is.  That way, there is the sense of accomplishement.  For instance I could say I'm going to "clean my whole room" which would sometimes be overwhelming on a work day, or I can say I'm going to put my goal down as "put away all clean clothes today".  That is far more doable.  A big deterrent is thinking you won't get it done so you don't start.  Doing one load of laundry a day is also a big help.  Regular lists of small things that can fit in to keep up are helpful.  
  • Do what I can while at work:  I know not everyone can do this.  I have some time at work to think about menu's or make plans for the week.  If there is any research I need to do or info to keep up with online, I can do some of that at work between answering phones.  At my previous job I had down time too and would take my organization notebook with me to do what I would sit down to do at home, while I'm away.  For some this may mean doing some of that on a lunch break.  I've done that before too at busier times.  Right now I'm reading up on for some help once I'm back at home.  
  • Take a break:  Sunday is my big goal of not letting myself try to catch up.  I want to spend time with God, family and friends that day.  My husband and I enjoy going to our favorite winery to listen to the live music once or twice a month on Sunday afternoons.  I need those breaks.  Getting away also makes me not want to work on things at home.  We have had to spend a few Sunday's catching up for the sanity of the family and I know how that is, but I make a goal to guard that day as much as I can.  

I'd love to hear how other working mom's accomplish this.  Or, if you are doing a work at home job or homeschooling, how you fit in all those other tasks.  What are your motivators or secrets?
Here is a link to some great printables to help you out with organization as well:

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Sensa Update

(For my original post go here )
I was planning on waiting a whole week to update how Sensa is working for me (again, I'm not getting paid to do this though I wish I were), but I have had results that I don't want to forget about.  Plus, I was asked how it's going and said I'd up date, so here ya go... :)

Like I said, I noticed it working right away on the first meal I tried it on.  Later that evening my husband and I took our kids to a movie and we went to our favorite Italian restaurant for a dinner date.  I knew this would really test it.  If there is anything I can over eat on, it would be Italian food.  Since I could tell from the lunch, that it was more wise to start with a small portion, sprinkle that, eat and then have more if I felt I needed it, I took that approach.  Our first course was our salad.  Even though I don't worry about over eating salad, I wanted that salad to start the process of "I'm satisfied" for me.  I sprinkled the sensa over all of it and ate it all.  Our tomato brushetta came and I took a quarter of it and gave Rick the other 3/4.  I was all ready realizing that although my stomach was growling, I was not really craving food.  However, the food still tasted good to me.  I used the sensa on my brushetta and enjoyed my small portion of that.  I did not feel I wanted more of it.  By the time the pasta came (Chicken Mushroom Fettuccine w/ basil cream sauce.....oh, yeah!) I was not wanting much more.  I scooped out a little into my plate (We had planned ahead to share the dish), about 1/4 of the whole.  I sprinkled my Sensa and ate and was completely satisfied.  My favorite part was that I was satisfied AND I felt great when I was done eating.  Without the Sensa, I would have felt craving for more and the good lightness of my tummy.  With this I was fine and I felt light still.

 I've been really paying attention to if it works or not, and when it works in the meal.  I've been noticing that I'm not hungry between meals,  and I'm not eating at night or wanting to munch.  That is very helpful for me.  I've not been able to get any serious exercise in since I started it, only a few walks. I started it last Thursday at lunch, five days ago.  I've lost a 3lbs.

I'm not putting much stock in the scale however.  I was more excited when my jeans fit comfortably right out of the dryer.  No squats to stretch them before I fell them relax. One pair I could not fit in well before vacation fit nicely this morning.  So, that is where I want to see it.

If felt last nights dinner was a huge test for it again.  I made homemade sweet corn mac and cheese (the recipe Ivan made on his pilot for trying to win Food Network Star), sloppy joes, pea salad (the cold one with red onion and cheddar chunks), and salad.  I portioned myself small portions of each so I could have some of them all, and I used the Sensa.  As I'm starting to eat, I'm all ready thinking that I will want more mac and cheese.  By the time I was done with my plate, Sensa had changed my mind.  It was fantastic.  The one key with Sensa, is that as it's helping you, you don't want to push that and eat anyway.  It really does help you but you have to listen to that and not push back into the food anyway. For me, I've not really wanted to.  In fact, I remember sitting there thinking I kinda wish I wanted more! LOL.

So, so far I'm loving it.  I'll keep you posted.   This product has it's critics for sure.  I'm here to be honest how it works for me.  This is only the beginning and as most of you know, the beginning can be the easy part.  So, we will see!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Giving Sensa A Try

Well 35 has not been good for me. I have felt my body really get old this year.  I've put on 15 lbs in the last year (which was a bummer because I had lost 10 the year before.  I've started exercising more, eat better and still have struggled badly.
My thing too is not the scale.  I just want to feel good.  However, the weight is making my heels really hurt after exercise.  Some mornings I wake up and can barely walk because my heels feel bruised.  I have more aches and pains and my energy levels have been really low, even with adding exercise.
I'm not one for doing products for dieting.  I'm very much a naturalist.  Years ago, the only way I really ever lost weight (and mind you, I was 115 when I got married but pregnancy did me wrong) was between my first two kids and using Metabolife.  It contained ephedra which is a strong stimulate.  It did keep me moving though (bordering jittery) and it really curbed my appetite.  Eventually Metabolife was taken off the market because some people had health issues.  I read of one mom who was in her early thirties and had a heart attack while on the treadmill.  It was scary even when you used it right. I'm thankful it's not around.  I was in my early 20's then and my body could handle it.  I don't think it would now.  It did work though and I lost 30 lbs.
Now I'm once again willing to try a product I'm hearing a great deal about.  Over vacation I did a lot of research on it.  At first it seemed like a food wasting issue though (I'll explain) and I don't like to waste food. I was also worried about what EXACTLY the ingredients were and how EXACTLY it works.

So, today I tried it for the first time.

The way Sensa works is  that you sprinkle it on your food.  Created by a doctor of neurology, Sensa is basically inhaled through your nose as you eat and tells your brain you are satiated.  There is one for salty foods and one for sweet.  You simple don't feel you need to eat anymore soon after you start eating.  I was worried this would be a nausea feeling, but it's not.
I had a chicken salad to try it out on for lunch.  I had about two cups of salad on my plate.  Mostly greens, then chicken cubes, dried cranberries, walnuts, and some feta and dressing.  I sprinkled on the sweet Sensa because I won't use that as much and in my mind, a salad with fruit could go either way.  I started eating.  I made a point to smell my food as I ate knowing that was how this works.  For the first few moments I could tell nothing.  I could taste no funny flavors...nada.  Then, about half way through my plate I was suddenly done.  I did not feel a puffy stomach full, I just felt done.  I did not feel nauseated or like my food grossed me out, just done.  It was the most definitive feeling, neither good or bad, just DONE.
My concern had been that if I sprinkled this on my food, I did not want to throw the rest away.  It says you can eat leftovers, but you have to sprinkle new Sensa as the product looses power after a while.  You also want to eat right after you sprinkle.  So, I guess I will start with even smaller portions.  I can eat my salad leftovers later I just have to re-sprinkle.  Honestly, I don't want to have to do that often because the product is not cheap.  So, I will dish a lot less next time.
I'm blown away at the results just from the first time eating.

You can read about exactly what is in it here:
and of course they have a website.

I do feel like I'm my own guinea pig at this point but I'm wanting to try it out.  I plan to post the progress.
(Please note: I'm not being paid by Sensa to do this.  I wish I were!  If it's will be told)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Our New Pet and A Little History

We tried the dog thing once.  It did not turn out well.  We don't know a whole lot about dogs, and we knew less then.  Well...let me back up.
I use to be a cat person.  That was all I was allowed to have growing up.  No pets inside at all.  I did not even know what a Guinea Pig was till the movie "G-Force" came out.  So, my pet experience was highly limited.  As most children do who are kept from all kinds of animals they want, I am really fine with my kids trying out pets.  We also started with cats and have had quite a few through the years.  Our first two we got when Victoria was only two.  Mopsy and Tibs were their names.  We had not yet taken them in for shots and one of them got a hold of a bad rodent and began foaming at the mouth.  We did not want to take chances with rabies and because they both ate the rodent (we lived in the country) my dad had to help Rick put them down the old fashion way.  It was very hard for us and especially for Rick but we learned that you can't wait on those sorts of things.  Since it was hard, and we lived in no pet places for a while, we did not have a pet again till Victoria was about six.
The gal who lived next to us knew we were wanting a kitten and her friend had a littler.  Victoria got to go with her and pick one out.  We were told it was a girl and "she" was grey and white.  With the colors and the fact that Victoria was in her princess stage, she named "her" Cinderella.  Upon the first vet visit, it was revealed that "she" was in fact a he and in honor of the good ole Jerry Lewis rendition of the story, he became Cinderfella or Cinder for short.  That cat was awful.  He was moody and would sit on the back of the couch to swipe an open claw at the kids when they passed by.  He got Emma for no reason really bad once when she was sitting on the couch and he went running over her little chest as she sat there in nothing but a diaper and gave her a nasty scar on her left side.  Mommy could have shot him herself.  He got kicked outside because of his mean ways.  One day he did not come back.  I did not feel too bad.
Next we tried a cat that was too feral, her name was Dandy.  She ran away very quickly.  I don't think she ever was meant to be a pet.
Then started our long period of rescuing stray kittens in our modular park.  We had a few years when there were lots of kittens born in town.  Eventually we had six cats outside.  Yikes.  Long story short, the males eventually wonder off too far and for some reason don't come home.  This is normal if you have outdoor cats.  The girls (two of them) stayed close and one just passed away two months ago after being hit by a car in our park.  The other, is still outside but she does no mousing, and is a bit ditsy on many levels.  We still care for her but she can't come in with us because she has never wanted to clean herself.  I just won't do that.  Ewwwww.
Somewhere in there we got a puppy.  She was so cute.  The people we got her from said she would be perfect for our kids and family life.  They knew we lived in a modular park.  I don't know what they were thinking except that they had a whole litter to find homes for.  She was a border collie, beagle, and lab mix.  Loveable as could be but chewed on everything (including the house on the outside), dug huge holes and ruined our yard, herded children that came over by nipping them in the heals, and barked NON-STOP till our neighbors could take no more. We had no idea about dogs remember?  Yeah, border collies need land and are not good house dogs.  She had to find a new home.
Then, as many of you know we then decided to explore the rodent pet life.  That was fun, it really was.  It's just hard to maintain. Rats are smart and make great pets but they can't be allowed to roam (well, we don't let them roam, some do) and they smell up the cage in a few days.  In many ways, I think they were harder to maintain than more interactive animals.  The guinea pigs were so cute, and fun to watch, but they too needed weekly cage changing and unfortunately never really warm up to you.  They will let you hold them but they don't interact much.
So, we found new homes for all but two guineas who are outside in a cage now, the ditsy cat outside, and Caedmon's Gecko Lizard who I almost forget about except when we have to buy crickets.  He is the easiest pet ever.  Caedmon takes him out and holds him but he is in his tank most of the time.
Emma started talking about wanting a kitten again but the more I thought about it, the more I realized how much I did not want to do that.  Cats are easy to maintain in the house on the potty level but they leave so much hair, their litter smells bad, and they scratch the furniture.  They also are only interactive if they want to be.  Beyond that, they are the boss, not you.  We sat and talked as a family that if we get a pet it needs to be one that is the highest reward for our work and money, and one that we can all be part of and share the load of.  We needed one that would fit our living space.  Our yard is small, our budget is small, and our home is fairly small.  Too small and he runs through the fence, too big and he eats too much and barks too much.  I did not want a bad shedding dog, or a hyper one.  Not one too young as I don't have the patience to train and did not want to see all I owned be destroyed, and not too old to where we were paying for surgeries or meds.
Okay, so my story is getting to long......
We told the kids that when we got back from our vacation (since there was no since getting a dog when we were leaving for two weeks), we would start looking.  We got home, and my best friend had her lovley baby over the weekend.  I had her kids with me yesterday so I thought a trip to the Animal Rescue and Humane Society would be a fun outing.  I did not expect to find anything.  Then, in the second row, staring up at me was exactly the type of dog I was hoping to find.  
 He is a 7 year old shiu tzu shnauzer mix. I think they just call that a pug mix.  We went out to the yard with him with the five kids and he had a ball playing with them all.  He was so loving and spunky without seeming nervous.  We took him home for a two week trial.
 We gave him a bath till he was shiny!
 He loves every single family memeber, even daddy in his mailman uniform.  That was a test right there!
 He loves being up on the couch (which we are fine with and wanted one small enough to snuggle) with the family.
By the end of the evening, he was comfortable enough to conk out while we watched MasterChef.  We love him so far!  He also slept all night in his kennel with only a few whines at first.  Kennel training can be hard on it's own, so I was encouraged to see this.  
Now, he just needs a name.  So, that is of course the hot topic at our house right now.  Ideas welcome.