Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Curse of the Apple Pancakes: A Weight Loss Journal

It's been a pretty good week. 

I did fall off the wagon today, however.

Yesterday I made Josiah the most scrumptious apple pancakes. They smelled divine. 

He acted like I had just clipped his toenails and added them to his favorite batter. 

You would think I would have learned by now. He loves my pancake recipe so add anything to it is to defile it. 

What he does not know is that I have been adding stuff for years to his precious pancakes. 


This time, however, I felt like we could all be grown-ups and left the apples a little chunky. 

Anyhoo. Let's just say that there were a lot of pancakes left over. I gave into temptation this afternoon when my blood sugar bottomed out. 


Today I want to talk about something that I have started doing that I used to be soo faithful at. 

Writing down what I eat. 

I stopped because I was comfortable with my calorie intact/general healthiness of my meals. I have gotten away from it and I realized I needed to be accountable again.

What helped me quite a bit when I was in my weight loss desert (when I was struggling to lose anything and stay on track) was looking to see what people were successful at losing weight were eating. 

Let's be clear about this. 

All of us have different issues. I am extremely sensitive to certain foods (for example, apple pancakes make with white flour). I also have certain nutrition philosophies. 

But...I think that I need to be accountable to someone and you, my friends, are about the best somebodies I can think of. 

So. Starting next week I am going to start sharing not only what I am eating, but my exercise endeavors. I know first hand how it is to think, "I'm really not eating that poorly." Then. You start remembering the bite of the cake and the handful of peanuts and the extra sugar in your coffee. 

Also...please be in prayer with me about something. I have been long under the conclusion that my synthetic thyroid medication isn't working the magic I need it to. There have been some obvious symptoms that can't be ignored (as much as I am capable of that). I have a call out to my doctor's office to set up an appointment. 

I am praying that she will be open to other avenues of treatment for me and that I will find some relief. 

Thank you, my friends. Hope you have a wonderfully healthy week! 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Homemade Pudding (One Quart)

It's Fall Y'all. 

By the way. I never say Y'all. 

I imagine it is because my parents never used it. Even though they both were born in the sticks of Southwest Missouri. I, myself, have only spent a few years out of the hills (only to return again). 

I did just a little research and found this article on Branson slang. My momma was born in Branson. I thought it was interesting that the author was right on the money about "You All" and Southwest Missouri Hillbillies. Some of the other vernacular I was unfamiliar with. 

Don't get me wrong. I had the "hickiest" accent as a child. It still can creep up on me when I'm not looking. 

This post, of course, has nothing to do with my accent...

I am going to share with you an old family recipe. 

This was the one that Mom fixed on those chilly evenings when we all were looking for something sweet and comforting...and fast. 

I didn't know what instant pudding looked like until I was a teenager. 

Lately, I have been fixing this recipe more often.  It is yummy and so, so easy. 

Years ago, Mom and I made a little cookbook. She did all the hard work. She actually hand illustrated all of the recipe pages. 

It's quite charming. This is the page for the One Quart Pudding. 

This recipe doesn't require a lot of ingredients. It does call for a quart of milk, but you can make that up in any combination you wish. I have used almond milk, coconut milk, canned milk, heavy whipping cream (yummers) and just plain skim milk. I have to stay away from a lot of dairy so I use a combination of almond milk, coconut milk and whipping cream.

I also use sweetener in place of the sugar. I am diabetic and am also careful with what I eat for  weight loss purposes. Sugar is not a superfood!

This is a microwave friendly dish and it takes just minutes to make. This is a terrible picture. You can almost see how it is thickening up.

And turns out just creamy and wonderful. I did sprinkle a bit of nutmeg on my serving here.

Here is the recipe.

In a large microwavable bowl combine the following;  

1 quart of milk
2/3 cup of sugar
1 egg, well blended
4 TBSP cornstarch
dash of salt

Put in the microwave. Cook six minutes. Take out and stir with a whisk. Cook another three minutes. Take it out and stir. It should come up to a boil and thicken. Stir and then add:

3 TBSP of butter
1 tsp. of vanilla

Just a note: I think it would be yummy with a little lemon for a fresher tasting pudding. The vanilla is really versatile. I know my Mom used to make different flavors when we were growing up. Josiah loves the vanilla and that is what I make. 

This recipe is just an old-fashioned dish of wonderfulness. Perfect for cool evenings. I think I might go make a batch.  

A TOS Review: USAopoly

We love games here at our house. I have found that my busy guy seems to absorb so much more when there is fun involved. Recently we had the chance to review the funest (I know…not a word) games evah! USAopoly sent us two of their games for review, Wonky: The Crazy Cubes Card Game and Tapple:Fast Word Fun for Everyone.

Wonky: The Crazy Cubes Card Game is all about strategy. The game comes with 54 cards, 9 blocks and a fun storage bag to keep it all in. This game requires the players to build. Here is how it’s played.

Each player receives a certain amount of cards. Each card tells them what color and size of block they are able to play. These blocks aren’t ordinary, plain jane blocks. They are literally “wonky.” This, of course, requires the players to think about how he or she is placing his or her block.

This was sooo much fun! Warning. It is really easy for this tower to fall.

The “Duct Tape Strategy” was thrown in there for a possible solution. 

Wonky  is intended for ages 8+ and can be played with 2 or more players. 

Tapple: Fast Word Fun for Everyone has quickly become Josiah’s favorite game. You might be aware that Josiah is dyslexic. I worried just a bit. How would that translate to this game?

He is frankly awesome.

The game revolves around this wheel with letters and a built-in timer. There are also 36 cards containing 144 categories. One side is harder. The other easier. You will need 2 AA batteries to run the timer for this one.

The player draws a category from the card he or she has drawn. Then the player taps the timer button and says a word beginning with one of the letters placed around the wheel. The game overlooks the letters Q,U,V,X,Y & Z. This was helpful. Nothing like trying to think of a fruit that begins with the letter Z.

The game continues as each player takes his or her turn. The timer only allows 10 seconds before that turn is lost. If you fail to think of a word you are out of the round.

Tapple is intended for ages 8+ and can be played with 2 to 8 players. 

How We Played

We played both games on our own and then took them to our Reading Club to share with our friends.  
 They were both instant hits.

The cute bag that comes with Wonky makes this game easy to cart off to picnics and Grandma's house. I shouldn't think that this would be a good travel game. You really have to have a flat, steady surface. 

You can tell from this picture that some of the sides of the blocks and angled and curved.

We did play it with a player who was younger than 8. She had a good time, but cared little for strategy. She just basically went with whatever color she was "feeling" at the time. 

Tapple turned out to be an educational goldmine. Who knew that such a simple game would help this dyslexic child find his superpower? He might struggle with reading big passages, but he sure could pull a word out of thin air! 

The ages in our Reading Club range from 4-13 (unless you count the mommas and then you are walking in 40land). The youngest ones needed a little more help, but they were all about it.

There is something about pushing that red button and beating the timer. It's magical!

We had quite a good time with all of the topics. Josiah's favorite has been Athletes.

Imagine that.

One of my favorite things about Tapple is the possibilities. You can literally take any educational topic (We are studying The Civil War right now) and make it into a category for Tapple. 

Both games are cleverly crafted and created. They are also well-made. We didn't have any issue with all the moving parts. The blocks for Wonky are wooden. Thankfully, we are beyond the "throwing blocks" stage.

 At least I hope so. 

But in any event, there aren't tiny pieces to keep track of. The Tapple wheel even has a handy cubby to keep the cards in. 

We LOVED these games. Can you tell? 

Connect with USAopoly via the following social media outlets. Don't forget to click on the banner below to read more reviews. 

 USAopoly Review

Friday, September 25, 2015

On a Walk: 17 Weeks of Learning to Live a Beautiful Life

We take walking for granted.

I know this because there was a period of my life when I couldn't walk.

My journey to walk again wasn't dramatic. My muscles had simply lost their memory. And my body had to get used to the many pins and screws that bolted it together.

3 times a week I had a physical therapist visit my house. She worked on strength training exercises with me. We practiced standing still and walking backwards. It was years before I could do the later with any success. I still have to think about it.

When I was able to get up and on my feet again I had to be aided by a walker. Then later I used a cane. In fact, I used the cane for years.

I can remember the first time I felt like I was striding. It was in the doctor's office. I was walking down the hall. I wasn't thinking about every step. I wasn' looking down at my feet. I was swinging my arms. I wasn't worried about falling. I was really WALKING!

It is still difficult for me to walk long distances. This is why the majority of my exercise consists of activities that are low impact.  Just last year I was able to complete a mile fun walk.

I felt like I was queen of the world!


Without the cash. And the big tiara.

So what does taking a walk have to do with Living a Beautiful Life?

When was the last time you paid attention to your surroundings?

Is life so overwhelming that you fail to appreciate the small things around you?

This is your assignment for the week.

Take a walk.

Don't worry about your heart rate. Just be sure you have proper footwear. We don't want you to break anything.

Earlier this week Josiah and I headed off to a popular walk/run/bike trail just a few miles away. I have to have fairly level walking trails and this particular place is perfect.

As you walk look to right and then to your left. I found this particular little cubby hole. It reminds me of the nooks and crannies that populated my backyard growing up. I grew up in the woods. Lots of adventure!

Look up! Can you see pictures in the clouds? We saw a hawk.

The leaves haven't begun their change yet in the Ozarks but we did see lots of lovely Queen Anne's Lace. I even picked some to bring home...only to throw it out. It didn't look as pretty in my house.

As you walk pay attention to the colors you see around you. God created a beautiful world!

You might even make a new friend! Josiah suggested that this might be a Copperhead. I suggested that we needed to review our Snakes of Missouri pamphlet. This guy is harmless.

Is there anything you see on your walk that prompts memories? We saw Cedar Trees on our walk. I was able to share with Josiah the wonderful memories I had of Cedar Trees. We hardly ever had fake Christmas Trees. The first week of December would find us in the woods choosing the perfect tree to be our Christmas Tree. I remember having to avoid all the prickly leaves.

On this day (our walk day) we touched the leaves.

We have had quite the bagworm infestation this year. I decided not to touch this. Icky.

As you walk think about your blessings. Breath in and out. Swim your arms. Can you feel the sun and the wind kiss your face? What are you smelling? What are you hearing?

We were unsure what we were looking at here. It looked as if something had already been having a snack.

Yes. Those are my sons big feet and hairy legs. Mine look a little dirty, but I assure you it's just a shadow.

So you might be telling me that you can't walk. Or that you don't have time for a walk.

I've been there.

If you are able ...try and get outside and sit for just a bit. Close your eyes and let the sun shine down on your face.

If you can't get outside have someone open a window for just a bit. I love to see the breeze blowing through curtains. Can you hear any birds? This time of year we hear lots of crickets. What kinds of memories are you having?

If your walk is to and from the mail box everyday, go slowly. Take a few minutes to take deep breathes and look around you.

This whole exercise is not to add minutes and pressure to your day. To appreciate our moments we have to become aware of them. I also find that when my life if complicated and messy I can always find something pretty in nature to look at. God created an orderly and beautiful world.

There is also a whole slew of health benefits that come with walking. I think sometimes we make it too complicated.

I can't walk until we find a buddy to walk with . If you can't find a buddy to walk with use this time for some serious meditation or motivation.

I need to get some better workout clothes. I saw a lady on the trail this week in her work clothes. She had simply slipped on some walking shoes and was taking advantage of her lunch break. Besides I'm not talking about walking a marathon. This exercise has other benefits other than your physical health. Your emotional health needs it as well.

It is just too hard for me to do at this point in my life. I saw a gentleman in a wheelchair pull himself up onto an exercise bike this week at the Y...You bet your bippy I was ashamed of myself after that...If he could do that I can certainly do what I can do.

Don't make it a production! Just do it! After supper, before supper, before breakfast, after work, With a kid. Without a kid. Take a camera. Or not.

Just make plans to do it again.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Yay Me! A Weight Loss Journal

Is the first week of fall!  I'm excited. I don't like to see the onset of winter, but I love all the things that come with fall.

It has certainly motivated me to move a bit more this week. This week I want to share some of my accomplishments and then a few of my goals.

1. I had consistently good workouts at the Y. Even when I was tired.

2. Me and Josiah walked a mile! It was a big fat hairy deal for me.

3. I did some weight training.

4. I ate a good breakfast every single day.

5. I made sure I had plenty of water to drink.

Here are some goals.

1. No processed sugar...AT ALL! Shouldn't be a big deal, but there have been a few too peanut butter sandwiches in my diet. And I'm not talking about the natural peanut butter.

2. Continue my exercise throw down.

3. Add T-Tapp into my routine.

4. Make up some pre-made lunches for myself. Being pressed for time is most of my battle.

5. Ignore the snack station at Josiah's swim meet this weekend. I've heard talk of donuts on the premises.

I encourage you to pat yourself on the back for your accomplishments! Being self-defeating won't help you at all.

Make a few goals for yourself. Take one day at a time and share ideas and encouragement with a like-minded friend or family member.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

A TOS Review: Amy Carmichael (a YWAM biography)

One of my favorite stories I heard in Sunday School was about a young girl who was born with brown eyes. She despaired over her brown eyes…wishing instead she had been born with blue eyes. This young girl later became a missionary to India. In time she understood why she had been given brown eyes. Her brown eyes helped her become more accepted amongst those she was ministering to. This woman was named Amy Carmichael.

Isn’t it amazing what impresses us as children? Granted I was born in Nicaragua to missionary parents so I have always had a particular tender heart for missionaries. My own eyes were blue, not brown…but I did understand the disappointment of wishing for something that couldn’t come true. 
Amy’s ability to look beyond her own disappointments to see a divine appointment made a great impression on me. This is why when we were given the opportunity to review a book and unit study from YWAM Publishing, I didn’t hesitate. I knew that Amy Carmichael: Rescuers of Precious Gems would be our choice. We also received the Amy Carmichael Unit Study Curriculum Guide.  

You might have heard of Youth With A Mission. YWAM Publishing is just part of that ministry. Their books focus on ministry, discipleship, prayer and evangelism. When you purchase from YWAM Publishing you are supporting their ministry efforts all over the world.

Our choice came from the Christian Heroes: Then & Now series from YWAM Publishing.  There is also a Heroes of History series. You will find over 60 titles highlighting all manner of folks. The Unit Study Curriculum Guides provides additional resources and activities for many of the titles.

How We Used It

We used our book as part of our morning time together. Josiah is dyslexic and while I felt like he could have handled the book in small doses I decided that it was more important that he enjoy it. 

I would fix myself a cup of hot tea and we would sit together on the couch. Of course, the time period that the story takes place was a mystery to Josiah. The living conditions of the “shawlies” that Amy ministered to as a young woman were appalling. We had many discussions about living in a country that has so many luxuries. We don’t have as much as some, but we have never had to worry about sharing our space with rats.

I was unaware that Amy’s health was key in her failure to secure her first ministry position in China. This brave and committed woman didn’t let her health stop her from her calling. I was so encouraged. I have experienced some bad health in my life. It is easy to feel as if you don’t have anything to give.
One of the big reasons I requested this particular title was that I knew that Amy spent the majority of her life in India as a missionary. Josiah’s birthfather was born in India. It has been my desire for him to learn more about India and the peoples. He has known about his adoption all of his life. I still don’t think he quite understands his uniqueness and the gift that he has been to us. I wept when I read about the precious children Amy called her own. I understood how God could give her so much love for them.

The Unit Study Curriculum Guide can be used in a variety of ways. It includes:

Creating Writing
Movie Critiquing
Reading Comprehension
Essay Writing
History and Geography Concepts

I received a physical book that is approximately 60 pages long. I used it in a variety of ways.
The first chapter is filled with key Bible verses. I chose from among these Bible verses Josiah’s copywork for the week. I also used the chapter questions to encourage conversation and to see if Josiah was paying attention. I’m sneaky like that!

We also explored India’s caste system and located key cities on a map. We mapped Amy’s missionary journeys and talked about the conditions she might have encountered.

It was important for Amy to fit into the native population. She wore saris while in India. We looked up pictures of traditional Indian dress and even prepared a favorite Indian dish (Butter Chicken).
The curriculum guide also gives suggests for planning an event at the end of the study. I also found great resources for more books, videos and magazine articles. I was inspired to read some of Amy’s own works.

There are also suggestions for making a display while studying India and Amy Carmichael. I would have loved to have done this, but just couldn’t get my act together. I do have plans to create something similar for church. I want to expose our youth to more missionaries of note.

I think anyone will be inspired by Amy Carmichael. The authors, Janet and Geoff Benge, did such a lovely job in bringing her story to life. Our review experience was precious. We had a chance to talk about many things concerning God’s calling for all of us to “Go Ye.” I am going to start adding some of these Christian Heroes stories to our regular morning reading rotation. I was particularly excited to see this list featuring the titles in chronological order. 

You can connect with YWAM Publishing via the following social media outlets. Don't forget to click on the banner below to read more reviews. 

YWAM Publishing Review

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Chocolate Cola Chili!

It's that time of year! I'm dragging out my chili recipes.

They are many, my friends.

Sometimes my chili is made up whatever I have in the pantry. a few weeks ago...I have a specific "never-fails" recipe that I turn to.

Josiah WUVS this chili.

It also happens to be the recipe I made up for his FIRST birthday party. He wasn't quite interested in chili then, but the birthday guests sure appreciated it!

I have heard this chili recipe called a Steak and Shake Chili copycat. I'm not sure if I would go that far. But it's still yummy.

I do need to put a little disclaimer here. This is not my "healthy" chili recipe. It does, after all, call for some sort of soft drink.

We don't drink much of that around here. this's magic.

Did you know that you can put any kind of meat in chili? I realize that in some circles I could be shot and quartered (or is it hung and quartered?). For this recipe I am using some ground beef.

Frankly, ground beef is a luxury in my grocery budget right now. I look for markdowns and stick it in the freezer.

It took me just minutes to get this chili going.

I simply started it browning in a big pot. I also added some chopped onions...cause we like them. This will eventually be transferred to my crockpot. I used to use a can of French Onion soup in this chili recipe. Then I read the back of the can and decided it didn't make that much of a difference. There is some interesting ingredients in canned soup!

I generally cook up a big pot of beans and use it for a few different meals, but for this particular week I needed to grab a couple of cans. I threw the beans in the crockpot.

And then added an 8 oz. can of tomato sauce.

Then a can of tomato paste.

Chocolate! Not a great picture of chocolate. But trust me...this is chocolate. I added 2 teaspoons to the crockpot.

After my ground beef was brown I added 1 Tablespoon of chili and then 2 teaspoons of cumin.

Then the SECWET INGWEDIENT. A cup of Cola. I just used a cheap can I got at the Dollar Tree.

Then I just let it cook! I made it on a Friday and then took Josiah to swim team. When we got home it was scrumptious and ready to eat. 

I just served it with some saltines and a little cheese. 

My guys went back for seconds (and maybe thirds!)

I was just happy that our Friday night meal included more than one food group.

There are those days.

2 pounds of ground beef
2 cans of kidney beans (undrained)
1 can tomato paste (6 ounce)
1 can tomato sauce (8 ounce)
2 teaspoons of unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup of cola (soft drink)
1 teaspoons of salt
1/2 teaspoon of pepper
1 medium onion, chopped
1 Tablespoon of chli powder
2 teaspoons of cumin
You can add a few teaspoons of your favorite hot sauce for more kick.

Brown the hamburger with the onions. Drain if needed. Put all of the ingredients in the crockpot and cook for 6-8 hours on low or 3-4 on high.

Serve with your favorite chili toppings.

I have a few more chili recipes ready to put on the blog. Next up is a chili recipe that I made with some of my Dad's homemade ketchup and served with Cheesy Grits!

I'll post that one next week.

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