Thursday, October 28, 2010

This is going to be the best Halloween YET!

Halloween is going to be a BLAST this year. Garrett is really looking forward to it. My mom is going to be here. Its going to be so much fun!

Garrett chose his costume, and has had fun wearing it around the house (he's going to be a knight). We spent a whopping $3 on his costume-gotta love the Dollar Store!

He was excited about the bat glasses, but not impressed with the fact I wanted to take a picture.
Carving the pumpkin last night. BIG pumpkin!

Summer was intrigued . . .
Garrett picked out the design he wanted and Brad helped him carve it. He picked a few favorites, but in the end a simple "scary face" won.

He was so proud of the finished product!
Summer, on the other hand, was not too sure about it . . .

And then she spent the next half hour trying to blow out the candle.
Work has been crazy busy, and this was the first night we had as a family in well over a week. Lots of fun plans for the next few days-Garrett is having a Halloween party at school, and there are about 101 activities to choose from to keep us busy this weekend. Best of all, I have convinced my son of the existence of the Pumpkin Fairy, and he is more than willing to trade his candy for a few special surprises. :-)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Make it Monday - Bread!

I've been asked several times in the past few weeks if I stopped eating bread to lose weight. Um, NO. In fact, carbs are a pretty freaking important part of my diet. I eat bread, pasta, and all that other fun stuff. BUT we eat whole wheat, and in the case of bread we eat homemade. Want a bit of a scare? Go grab your store-bought loaf of bread and read the ingredients. Yeah. YUM! Or not . . .

We've been making our own bread for several years. Our bread machine broke a long time ago, and then we just started making it by hand. Honestly, by hand is even better than the bread machine.

So, here's our recipe for Homemade Wheat Bread-modified from a recipe my dad gave us forever ago:

1.75 c wheat flour
1.75 c white flour
2 tsp sugar
one packet or 2 tsp of yeast
1 1/3 c warm water.

Mix dry ingredients, dig a hole in the center and add yeast. Add water, stir. You may need to add a small additional amount of water while mixing. Stir a minimum of 30 strokes in each direction, then kneed dough on a floured surface for 8-10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Place in a lightly oiled, floured pan, cover with a damp towel and let rise for 45 min - 1 hour. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, then remove immediately from pan.

In the future, I hope to start incorportating at least a partial amount of freshly ground wheat flour into our breads. As soon as wheat is ground into flour, it starts losing a great deal of its essential vitamins and minerals. By grinding your own wheat and incorporating it into your bread, you get the full nutritional value of the wheat. Here's an article on that:
We haven't gotten around to doing this yet, but Whole Foods carries wheat, so I'm hoping to buy a few pounds and try it soon. In the mean time, I've been grinding up oats and throwing them .5 cup of oat flour in for some of the white flour.

Monday Morning

Garrett spent his Monday morning before school investigating the cool dragonfly carapace I found at work. We talked about how it looked, how it felt, and why the different parts of its body look the way they do.

Summer spent her Monday morning playing with the dolly Hazel gave her for her birthday last year. Apparently she wanted to go for a ride in the wagon.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Frugal Friday - Beans, Baby!

Incorporating beans into your meals is a GREAT way to extend your budget and give you healthy, nutritious meals. They contain tons of protein, and you can combine them in your dishes with small quantities of meat to help your meat go FURTHER. Or, if your spouse is more adventurous than mine, forgo the meat altogether. Go for the dried variety, instead of canned--not only is it cheaper, but you won't have all the added crap that comes in canned food. But for giggles, stop by and READ the back of a can. Yeah. Ew. A bag of beans or other legumes will cost you about $3, at most, and will give you many, many meals. While you do have to soak overnight, I usually cook in batches and pop some cooked beans in my freezer for those days when I don't plan ahead well.

I'm short on time today, so I'm going to link you guys to death.

Great article on the health benefits of beans:

If you've never cooked beans before, check out EHOW:

And a super duper easy lentil recipe everyone in my house loves:

Saute kale (or spinach) with a little bit of garlic and olive oil. Add tomatoes, combine with cooked wheat pasta, serve topped with freshly grated parm cheese. Seriously, does it get ANY easier than that?? That one's courtesy of my friend Carina :-)

Another favorite is Green Bean Chili Cheese Mac:

Steam fresh green beans in the microwave. Combine cooked wheat pasta in a skillet with cooked red kidney beans, tomato (or tomato sauce if you prefer), some ground turkey (if desired-we stretch our meat budget out by adding only .25 - .5 lb of meat to this dish--it appeases my meat loving husband) and green beans. Top with cheese and warm in skillet until cheese is melted.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wellness Wednesday - Goals

I've promised that I would try to start putting my of MYSELF (versus the mommy in me) into this blog, but so far I haven't done well with at. So I'm going to try and start Make It Mondays, Wellness Wednesdays, and Frugal Fridays. You would be SHOCKED how much frugal living and healthy lifestyles have gone hand in hand for us. I've heard time and again how eating healthy is sooo expensive, but it really doesn't have to be people. And I'm also shocked how many people have asked me if I eat bread when I tell them how much weight I've lost. Yes, I do eat bread!! LOL.

So, this week I wanted to talk about setting goals. The first step to a healthier lifestyle is setting attainable goals and giving yourself a reward for them. Small changes make a difference, and lead to the big changes you are looking for. When I say GOALS, I do NOT NOT NOT mean "I want to lose 10 lbs". Yes, I suppose that is a goal, but I don't think that is the best goal. You can lose 10lbs without really doing a darn thing for your health. You could cut out carbs, you could just not eat, etc. etc. etc. Plus there are plenty of people out there who may weigh less, but that doesn't mean they are healthier.

Good goals include fitness goals (I will walk 10 miles this week), eating goals (no fast food, 7 servings of fruits and veggies, 8 cups of water), and BALANCE goals. Part of carving a healthy lifestyle out for yourself is finding the balance of all things.

My weekly goals include avoiding ice cream and fast food (two weaknesses for me), running 16+ miles a week, and doing at least 2 cross training workouts a week. Avoiding fast food does WONDERS for our spending, so there's that whole frugal and healthy go hand in hand thing :-) When you meet your goals, don't forget to REWARD yourself people! It doesn't have to be a costly reward. I usually treat myself to one new song download a week. Sometimes I give myself an hour with a good book and a glass of wine. Sometimes its a long bath or something fun I've been wanting to do. Or it CAN be a big reward. My friend Allison and I are running 1400+ miles to each other, then we are treating ourselves to a Mommy's Weekend.

Anyway, the entire point of setting goals is that drastic changes do not happen over night. If you focus on the little things, they start adding up. And there is no better day to start than TODAY :-)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Someday, I'll stop falling behind on pictures

But alas, this isn't that time. So here's the past few weeks in pictures.

Summer looking cute in the bibs Nana and Pawpaw
Playdough fun

Trip to the zoo, because the weather has been PERFECT lately.
Summer was SO into it this time!

Can you say Mini-Brad??"Fish! Turtle!!"
Enjoying some Heirloom tomatoes for lunch (this one's just for you Annie!)
Dinosaur bones rock.
Rock climbing
Sissy wanted to go too.

Summer thought the elephants were the most exciting things ever.
This is how we often spend our days while Garrett is at school. "I go night night, mommy!"
And of course we must torture Aspen. Good thing he's such a good natured dog. His birthday is tomorrow--Garrett asked if we would bake him a "doggie cake"--when I said no, he said "Well, we'll just have to sing happy birthday then!"

We went to the Children's Museum for Target Free Third Fridays-Dino Island is still there, and Garrett is obsessed. We got their early so the kids played on the playground for a while.Summer is just silly . . .
Laura, showing you the mommy . . . lol!
Summer was NOT impressed by the dinosaurs this time. She likes them on TV, but apparently the live-action animatronics where too much.
Garrett's favorite part - excavating for dino bones . . .
And of course crafts were a big hit too.
Afterward, Brad and I enjoyed a date night at the winery, thanks to Leanne watching the kiddos.
And that's just the highlights. There was also work, school, Garrett's first week of karate, running, etc. etc. etc. You know, the usual. So, until next time!

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Chaos Reigns Supreme

Things have been INSANE since we returned from vacation. I suppose that is always the case when you take a week off from life though.

What we've been up to the past two weeks:
LOTS of time in the office for me . . . thank goodness for my friend Leanne, who has babysat a ton for me so I can go in at semi-normal hours.

The weather has been FABULOUS and we have had picnics galore after school.

Garrett spent his first full day at school. He loved it so much that we decided to sign him up for 2 days of aftercare so he can do Karate there too. I'm looking forward to a little less insanity on Wednesdays and Thursdays. He's handwriting (really the only thing he's not excelling in at school) is improving rapidly. I couldn't be happier with the whole school situation.

Summer has been . . . Summer. As usual, a dramatic, crazy, silly girl. She's getting SO big, talking up a storm and doing so much more for herself. She loves her brother so much, and misses him while he is at school. She will only hold HIS hand when crossing the street or a parking lot. This results in a great deal of fuss when he isn't with us. We learned that she is terrified of the lawn mower-I tried to get her to mow with me and she hid in the garage, screaming her head off.

I've been cooking a lot during the week, stocking the freezer and the fridge so that we don't have to freak out about what's for dinner when I'm working.

Brad and I have essentially been ships passing in the night-between work, workouts, meetings, and volunteer commitments. It borderlines on insanity. The beginning of the month is always worse though. Tonight he is patrolling for the Columbus Day Regatta with the Coast Guard Auxiliary. Next weekend he is probably going to be assisting another dive instructor. Next week I start a 2 day a week coaching commitment with Girls on the Run, which will make things even more chaotic.

I have two big goals to work toward in the running department--back in March I joined a 500 miles in 2010 challenge. I'm sitting at 320 and have 180 left to go in the next 12 weeks, which means I need to pick up my mileage. In addition, Allison and I are running "toward" each other and treating ourselves to a mommy's weekend when we get there. Its around 1480 miles between Pawtucket (or however in the heck you spell it!) and Homestead. So THAT is going to take a while. Both are definitely doable goals--I committed to running a 13.1 on Nov 13 with my friend Amanda, so there's that to train for as well. I got a new pair of running shoes upon our return from vacation, so there is no reason not to put on the miles. Running in cooler weather has been WONDERFUL!

All things considered though, I'll take the chaos and insanity. I like being this busy. I honestly have no idea what we would do with free time if we had it!