Saturday, February 17, 2018

Jamaica pictures....better late than never.

Lots of photos here peeps.  Enjoy!  I'll caption

Ready to fly!  




Our room was so bright and white and clean and nice!  :D
It also had this....free.  Refilled every 2 days.  WE didn't even make a dent.  I don't know how people could drink this much in such a short time.  We enjoyed the 2 on the left 
The resort courtyard area.  Very nice!



Beach knitting totally happened.  And I made a new friend because of it.  One of the girls who worked there was learning to knit.  Kush pulled up a chair and we had a nice long chat.  She's checking out ravelry now.  :D

resort views before it was all full of people for the day.
That time you were napping on the beach and all of a sudden it starts raining....hard....and cold.  

Beach!  And more beach!
 We also went horsebacking riding through the interior of the island.  it was so nice.  And we got to ride in the ocean.  Also cool!
The ruins of an 18th century windmill







This right here is why you don't drink all that liquor in your room in 2 days.  well, one reason anyway.  ;)   We randomly ran into Mary and Lonnie waiting for dinner.  Mary is Shane's college roommate's mom.  They live 45 minutes from where we live...And we never see them.  Till we go to Jamaica.  You just never know who you might run into
Bambo boat ride.  So relaxing!    And fun!
The ride came with a mud "facial" on my feet and legs!  Very nice! 
Noel (our boat guide) picked us a coconut.  And made us bamboo straws.  YUMMY!

They call the inside of the coconut "jelly meat" and it is good.

This is HARD!  I would not be a very good banana picker.


Shane did much better!   He's got a bigger head  hehe

I love trying new foods.  Here we have sugar cane (top)-chewy but sweet,  soursop (middle) slimy and not my favorite at all and Jamaican Apple (bottom).  So good.  Tastes like a peony smells.  YUM!






Such a fun and relaxing trip!  :D

Friday, February 16, 2018

A HEALTHY FOOD adventure! Trim Healthy Mama style

So I've decided to try something.  In my younger years, I could eat all I wanted and maintain a healthy weight and energy level.  But things have changed.  I've tried several different options but none have worked well for me or been manageable long term.  Several friends of mine have found great success with Trim Healthy Mama.  So I got the book.  And Trim Healthy Table and next week is my first week "on plan."

One of the things I like about this plan is that, apart from sugar and white flour, nothing is really forbidden.  And there are substitutions for sugar and white flour that I can use.  The main idea of the plan is that you separate fuels (healthy carbs and fat) and anchor both with good protein.  So I spent a large part of yesterday afternoon creating next weeks menu and grocery list- I am looking forward to that going much faster soon.  And I want to be able to easily find this one to use it again (no need to reinvent the wheel every single week)  So here we go.

Breakfast:
Big Bowl Egg Scram (THT 331) -S
Big Bowl Cinnamon Oatmeal (THT 354) -E
Cream of Treat ( THT 353) -S
Pint Jar Oats (THT 343) -E (makes 3 servings)
Cinnamon Pecan Bake Pancake (THT 338) - S

LUNCH:
I will have either veggies or a salad with my lunch each day.  I am going to instant pot a turkey breast at the start of the week because I don't like turkey lunchmeat and use that for sandwiches/protein.
Sprouted Bread Sandwich  (E) (2 days at least) -freshy bowl (leftovers) (FP)  Apple (E)
Tuna Pepper Poppers (THT 313) - S
finger food lunch (for packing for a day out) Turkey, cheese, S veggies, Dark choc pieces
leftovers to fill in any extra days

SUPPER
- Barbacoa Beef (THT 108) -S
Freshy Bowl (THT 265) -FP  (leftover of this will help with lunches)
With taco salad toppings....kids will get chips/wraps

-Taco Cornbread Bake (THT 139) - S
salad

- Save my Sanity Chili (THT 81) - E

- grilled burgers (toppings- buns for kids) -S
Amish Broccoli Salad (THT 271) - S

Hubby Loving Chicken (THT 218) - S
Killer Green Beans (THT 261) - S

-Tuscan Cream Chicken - (THT 72) - S
kids will get noodles.  I'll have a salad or leftover veggies.

-Salad Bar Night (I think this will become our sunday night event- perhaps rotating with soup night.  Its fast and easy and well liked and it gives me a chance to prep salad veggies for the whole week).

Snack/Sipper?Other
- Reeses pieces shake (pinterest)
- Raspberry GGMS
-Dump Ranch Dressing/dip -S (to go on salads or veggies with an S meal


Now I don't expect my kids to follow this plan through breakfast and lunch....so I'm buying them some WAY off plan options. I may try to slide them into some plan options as I get more experience and learn....So there's that.  :)

Now on to the grocery list.  There are several things I consider staples and won't be found on this list....onions, garlic, spices, baking powder, etc etc etc.  So use it to start but check recipes and add what you need.  :)

Produce:
spinach-2
mushrooms (for my salads/egg bowl)
cherry tomatoes
rainbow peppers
ginger
garlic
mini peppers
lettuce 2
tomatoes (roma)
broccoli-2
cucumber (salad)
avocado

Canned:
tuna
tomato sauce
diced tomatoes 2
rotel
pinto beans - 2
great northern beans 2
applesauce (UNsweetened)
sun dried tomatoes

Packaged:
Pyure
Nutritional Yeast
coconut flour
golden flax meal
pecans
xanthum gum

Dairy:
almond milk
egg whites
cheddar cheese
skim milk (for making yogurt)
eggs - 2
heavy cream
1% cottage cheese

Frozen:
Raspberries

Fish/Meat:
turkey breast
bacon
chicken legs
chicken breast

Other:
85% cacao chocolate bar


Monday, February 12, 2018

Blessings Abound and I have full joy!

In the end of January, Shane and I spent a week in Jamaica at an all inclusive resort.  It was an amazing and unforgettable trip.  Travel always gives me a new perspective on my every day.  Sometimes I long to go back because home seems mundane after trekking into the grand canyon on mule-back or having lunch at the foot of the Eiffel Tower.   Sometimes I come home missing loved ones I visited.   Sometimes the hours of travel required to get home and jetlag are exhausting and I'm just trying to recover.   Sometimes I feel like I need a second vacation to recover from a family vacation.  But as we've gotten back into a home routine, my blessings have been staring me in the face day after day.  My healthy family, warm home, and a pantry/fridge/freezer full of good food.  Jamaica was an absolutely beautiful place, with an even more beautiful people with beautiful spirits and in my 5 short days there, I hope I learned something.

It has been a rough, hard, moody winter for me.  But I had a chance to go stay in a place where my comfort was paramount.  Where if I needed anything at all, someone will provide.  And then we went outside the resort and saw the countryside where again....things were provided solely for my comfort.  In a place where people live without electricity or running water....where planting fruits that will feed your family is the first thing done when setting up a home.....where construction workers fill water bottles in puddles from the street they are working on.  And they are happy!

Not just Happy......JOYFUL.  We learned a new word from Noel (one of our guides).  He asked that we have "full joy" on our river trip.  He wanted to make us full joy.    We said something about enjoying the trip down the river and he said "No, enjoy is like at a funeral....where joy ends"   FULL JOY!
Noel was awesome!  

They are also predominantly Christian,  98%.  You may disagree but I think American Christians could learn a few things from them.  First of all, they weren't shy about it.  Before dinner, the waitstaff sang a couple worship songs and prayed the Lords Prayer.  It was beautiful.  As we were talking to people, they had zero concerns about political correctedness and when they thought something was wrong they called it.  They live in a country with no "safe spaces"....there are serious problems.  They don't seem to have time or energy to waste on being offended all the time. It was refreshing.

I will be the first to admit, we stayed in safe, controlled areas.  The country was on military alert while we were there (our bus was even checked by armed military guards).  It was important for us to be smart.  I am sure there are people who don't fit in this perception I have of the country.  But for the few days we were there and the experiences we had, my overwhelming impression was that of happiness and joy.

We are a whiny and entitled society and it is embarrassing.  So I have challenged myself to WRITE DOWN at least one blessing, one thing that gives me "full joy" every day.  Not just think about it.  WRITE IT DOWN!

I don't really do the "word of the year" that so many of my friends do.  But this year, even in my moodiness, blessings just keep popping out all around even in totally unexpected places..  I have so many reasons to have "full joy" every single day.  Not to say that I wasn't blessed before (cause that hasn't really changed)....but that I am being made more aware. And it is fantastic.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Freezer Meal Prep

Sometimes its just nice to have some meals ready made in the freezer.  And Stouffer's Lasagna just isn't gonna cut it.  The upcoming month is one of those times.....so I've spent the last couple hours making some freezer meals.  I'm not done yet....but when I am this is what I'll have in my freezer...

Shepherds Pie

I made 2 of these.  I didn't even look at her freezer mashed potatoes and just made mashed potatoes in my instant pot.  Also totally lazy and used frozen mixed veggies and skipped cutting up carrots.  Who does that?    I also forgot to buy allspice.  (I clearly struggle with following recipes....you will notice that trend throughout). 

Vegetable Beef Soup

So I made one of these.  Kinda.  The roast will have to be cooked ahead of time....but that can be done from frozen in the instant pot.  I think we'll manage that.  Everything else got dumped in a gallon bag.  Again, I used frozen mixed veggies and just added enough to look about right.  I did chop my own onion though.  :)

Burrito Bowl

We've had this before and the kids LOVE it.  They call it "taco paste" which I think is supposed to be complimentary but totally doesn't feel like it.  I think its cute this is 6 servings....so I doubled it.  We also use venison roast/backstrap because we have that.  It will be plopped in first with this dumped on top.  Since we switch to venison I used beef stock and not chicken stock. 

Taco Rice Casserole

So we've never had this before.  I made 2 of them.  Its taco flavored....I figure its a pretty safe bet!!!  Its also similar to the burrito bowl above.  I left out zuchinni cause I forgot to buy it.  I made my own black beans in my instant pot and made the rice in the instant pot too.  And I left off the cheese, cause there are weirdos in this house who don't like/eat melty cheese.  I know I know, I don't know what is wrong with them either. 

Minestrone

Im making 2 of these.  I may have to actually chop up carrots for this one.  And I'll leave out the spinach cause it won't freeze great and kale is gross.  I'm also subbing red beans in for canellini beans cause I could find cannelini.  The pasta and beans will go in their own little bags to add at appropriate times. 

Chili

So this is our favorite chili.  I'm making 2 of them but I bet we eat one for supper.  I leave out the jalepenos and add 1 chili in adobo sauce instead.  Mmmmm  And no fish sauce or cocoa for us please.  :)

Tuscan Chicken Stew

This one is actually out of a cookbook I bought (The Instant Pot Electric Pressure Cooker Cookbook-whew that's a mouthfull)  So I don't feel good about sharing the recipe here.   I'm gonna make 2 of these I think. 

I may not have enough canned tomatoes to do chili and the tuscan chicken stew.....I may have to get some more.  Now its time to mash some potatoes to finish off these shepherds pies.  :) 

Monday, January 22, 2018

Monday Morning Musing/Dave Ramsey Drop Out

The king and I have taken/taught the dave ramsey fincancial peace class and followed the principals in it.  We really like the philosopies presented in it.  We followed those rules for several years.  We are presenting them to our children as a good financial plan....because it IS!

But then there is life.  2 summers ago, we had a well stocked emergency fund.  We had no debt outside our mortgage and we were moving forward to really get things settled and start really chunking money into a retirement fund.  Then a deer totaled my van.  We had to chose between a car loan and completely depleting our emergency fund and paying cash.  We chose to pay cash for the van.  And it feels like we've never recovered from that.  We've cash flowed everything.  But we can't seem to get caught back up.

We live in the country and had a HORRIBLE well.  All of us could not shower daily and I had to ration laundry.  We have 4 children.  One of them a teenage boy and another a soon to be teenage boy.  This was causing incredible problems in our house.  We started planning to pay to have "city water" brought to our house.  We applied and signed contracts.  We saved.  We almost cash flowed the whole thing. But not quite

M and I had an opportunity to go to Australia.  We cash flowed that trip.  Maybe we should have put that money in the emergency fund.  But it was an opportunity that may never present itself again.  And certainly not while he is old enough to take that flight but young enough to not have too many obligations.

One of the "deals" with my Australia adventure was that the King wanted he and I to go on a little getaway this winter for the 2 of us.  I thought we'd have a weekend in Nashville, or New Orleans.  He picked an all inclusive resort in Jamaica (I'm not complaining).  We cash flowed the trip.
.
We've been having trouble with the bedroom layout in our house (one extra little bedcave room shared a wall with the master bedroom -and the child who slept in it stayed up to eavesrop and comment about what she heard-ahem!- and was not big enough to even really qualify as a bedroom).  We decided this fall to do the work required to make a big bedroom for 2 kids and tear out the "cave room"  We were going to cash flow this project.  Not too difficult.

Then I needed a medical procedure.  Insurance raised our deductible 2 days before my surgery without good communication and surprised us.  Fine.  We'll get it paid for.  The procedure has a 90% success rate and we wanted to get it done so we could switch to a medical share option for insurance-that we think will work better for us....but needed to do it first because of timing and pre-existing and insurance mumbo jumbo before switching over)  Then I discovered I'm in the 10% and the procedure failed and I have to have surgery (and pay the deductible all over again because since the procedure didn't work the new med share timing is even longer than it was before).  I am so thankful it is not life-threatening....but it is life altering.  We can not pay cash for this.

The remodel job is half done.  We have no choice but to move forward on it....which meant buying/charging building supplies.  But 2 of the children can't just sleep in the living room till they are grown.

My van started acting really funny.  I felt like I could lose control on the interstate.  I figured new shocks were in the cards.  Nope FOUR new tires!  Yeah.  More bills.

We've never gotten to the stage in his plan to put money in retirement.  We are further from that stage right now than we were 2 years ago.  And yet we are getting older.  Forget that.  Money goes in retirement starting now.  Thankfully, we contributed to retirement faithfully before "financial peace".  We aren't getting younger and if we want any part of our retirement dreams to become retirement reality we can't keep waiting to save for it.

Technically, we could cancel our trip.  Get most of our money back to use for the surgery deductible(s).  I could cancel the kids art classes and music lessons....to put toward tires.  I do have a job now.  We could cancel all our extras.  We could go back to a phone in the wall.  We could never eat out.  But at what point do you say....we are trying our hardest and we are saving and making well thought out decisions.  And things are working against us (hello multiple surguries/deductibles and being in an income bracket where we get zero assistance).  But although we want to plan for the future, we are only promised RIGHT NOW and there are opportunites to not pass up for later.  Later may never come.  And we only get one chance to raise our children.  A will be grown and theoretically out on his own in 4 years.  The others aren't far behind.  We don't get a redo on their childhoods.

So I guess we failed at Dave Ramsey....we failed at financial peace.  And yet....making the decisions we've made in the last year or so has led to far more peace than being doggedly tied to the DR philosophy.  I would still recommend the class.  Our church is actually offering it in 2 different time/location options starting tonight (if you are interested contact me).  But for us we are much happier with a milder, more balanced lifestyle.

Edited to add:  I am very grateful for the principals that we learned and where we have been so that this isn't more of a setback.  It is sucky enough as it is.  WE only have the bills associated with all the sucker punches of the last few months to contend with....we weren't already in debt.  So at least there is that.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Friday Facepalms #2

More funny things that happened this week.

After church:
G: Two of my friends were fighting over who got to sit by me in class today.  I told them "ladies ladies, there is enough of me to go around"
Me: which friends were they?
G.  (both BOY names)  But when I said it they stopped fighting.  

that's a peacemaker.  HA!

M:  There is no such thing as a toy weiner dog.
S: Are you sure?
M:  Yes.  There are toy poodle.  Muffin (my mom's dog) was one. 
S:  What if a toy poodle and a weiner dog had a baby.  That would be a toy weiner dog.  WAIT!  Maybe it would be a woodle.
M  or a pienir.  NO no not that.  
S: maybe not
G:  Lets pretend this conversation never happened
All:  Agreed.


G:  let me tell the story.  I was an eye-witness.  I wish I wasn't.  it was gross.
A:  I witness my eyes every day. 


By the end of this week, I don't really have a sense of humor and I just want to banish them all to their beds so they will STOP FIGHTING!  

"The Girl on the Train"

You know when there is an accident on the highway and traffic slows WAY down because everyone is slowing down to stare at the mess it caused.....this is book is 11 hours of that.   Well, if the accident is really one accident after another accident after another, and every one of them makes you cringe and think WHAT happened here and WHY but for some reason you can't turn away, then you have decent description of this book.

Switching from the first person perspective of 3 female characters, we get to experience all their emotions and thoughts and get to know them.  And then wonder if you really want to know anyone quite that well.

I don't like reading reviews that give too much away....but there is maybe 1 character in this book who is NOT a hot mess.  Rachel, the main character who is the "girl on the train" lives in a fantasy world and doesn't seem to be able to escape.  Unfortunately, the fantasy involves other real life people.  One of them, Meghan, appears to be a woman whose life is perfect (through the eyes of Rachel) but we learn she has some demons of her own.    And then there is Anna, who just wants to have her happily ever after.  We learn all the thoughts and dreams and fears of all 3 of these women.

If you like feel good books with happy endings, then I would avoid this one all together although everything is tied up nicely and we aren't left wondering what happened to someone.  If topics like alcoholism, adultery, infant loss, murder, abuse, or gaslighting trigger you in some way, or if the use of cuss words is offensive, this book is also not for you.  But if you like a fairly twisted mystery that really keeps you on your toes and in the dark for most of the book then I would recommend it.  Although a lot of horrible things happen, none of them are explicitly described (although there are some descriptions).