Good Eats- Clean eating edition

I love Tosca Reno. She’s been an inspiration to me for years through reading Oxygen magazine and her books. (Not that you can tell from looking at me, but I do read a LOT about nutrition and exercise). In her 40’s, she decided to take control of her life, lost a bunch of weight, started pumping iron, and winning fitness competitions. She has overcome the long-term illnesses and eventual deaths of both her step-son and her husband. She shows incredible strength in so many aspects of her life, and is another great example of making step-families and blended families work. I want to be like her when I grow up.

I’ve been taking slow steps towards that ever-elusive “healthy lifestyle” since last year. I gave up soda (again) and started exercising. And I lost a grand total of about four pounds. Which of course is better than no pounds, but seriously? I’ve known from years of experience that I can workout like a maniac, but not lose much weight. I think I overeat to compensate. Nothing kills a good workout like grabbing doughnuts afterwards.

Something clicked when we got back from New York though. After a week of garbage food, or no food at all, I was so ready for a change. I was feeling sick and rundown and my body was screaming for veggies. So I planned on having a Clean Week when I got back. I have them every so often after I’ve overindulged for too long. I think of them as hitting the reset button. Not a diet or anything, just giving up crap for awhile.

Clean Week for me is pretty simple- protein and veggies, no pasta or bread, no dairy, no legumes, lots of water. Carbs come mostly in the form of oatmeal, apples, and sweet potatoes. Three meals a day plus two snacks. Protein at every meal and snack. Lots and lots and lots of veggies. Pretty straightforward.

This is not something I can, or want to sustain for very long. I’ll never be Paleo, I love dairy way too much. And beans. So I’ll usually have a Clean Week, then go back to normal. Except that it’s been  almost three weeks now, and Eating Clean is becoming kind of… normal.

Week one was as I described above. Week two, I added in beans and more fruit. That felt ok, so Week three I added dairy back in. Just a little, not every day. And I feel… mostly good. Still eating a boatload of veggies, with the help of salads in jars. Still chugging water like it’s going out of style. And amazingly… I started actually losing a little weight! Note that this was not my goal initially. I was just trying to help my poor body get some nutrients and hydration that it desperately needed.

Last week I had lost ten pounds from my all-time-highest-weight-ever in-the-history-of-the-world that I reached in January. By June 1, I’ll almost certainly have lost the fifteen pounds I gained since last summer. It’s kind of surreal.

This post has become way longer and more ramble-y than I intended, so I’ll hit some of the highlights and lowlights of the past couple weeks of Clean Eating.

Good stuff-
Losing weight.
Less heartburn. Okay this was amazingly unexpected and fabulous. I get heartburn a LOT, and have for years and years. I go through Prilosec and Tums like they’re candy. In the past three weeks, I’ve taken Prilosec twice! Usually in that amount of time, I’ve taken 8-10. And I eat tomatoes and other acid filled foods on a daily basis. I don’t get it, but I’m thrilled!
Feeling better. I’m telling you, the week after we got back from NY I felt like I’d been run over. Joint pain, stomach pain, blah blah blah. But it’s crazy how much better I feel just by eating better food.
More energy. I’m not ready to run a marathon or anything, but I see a noticeable difference in my energy level.
Putting the LoseIt app to good use. I started tracking my food regularly in February with this app. I’ve been using it on and off since 2009, and I can’t say enough good things about it. I’m not obsessive about calories or anything, but it’s another useful tool.

Not-so good stuff
Time- It takes a lot of time to eat Clean. Planning time, prepping time, time doing the damn dishes. I’m running the dishwasher twice a day almost every day. The rest doesn’t bother me a lot, I was menu planning anyway, but man all those dirty dishes!
My face has blown the hell up. I usually have pretty good skin (genetics, not anything special I’m doing) But right now my face looks… gross. I thought eating better was supposed to help your skin look better. I’m hoping this is just my body’s way of releasing toxins or something and that it’ll go back to normal soon.
It’s more expensive, but not much. This is one of those things that will vary a lot from family to family. Yes, it can get really expensive to buy enough protein for every single meal and snack. But when you consider the things you’re not buying, like sugary drinks, snacks, etc., then it becomes more do-able. I think people can run into difficulties if not everybody is on board with eating Clean. Like if your kids want all the garbage food, but you still need to buy ten pounds of chicken every week. That can get expensive.

Luckily for me, Jason has been super supportive in this whole thing. He’s not eating Clean, but he’s eating better. He eats what I eat, plus I’ll cook pasta or rice with dinner for him so he won’t be carb deprived. He’s just happy for home cooked food, so he’s not picky. I don’t think he’ll ever super love asparagus and broccoli as much as I do, but he tolerates it pretty well. The interesting thing will be when the Little Man comes this summer. I’ll probably relax things for the few weeks he’s here. We’ll see…

I’m going to come back later with pictures of what a typical day of food looks like.

A few good videos

If you don’t like this, you have no soul.

The mother of all goat videos.

Because we just can’t get enough Taylor Swift parodies.

The Veronica Mars movie Youtube channel is hoppin’ right now.

We heart everything Lindsey Stirling! People we know, with widely varied musical tastes, all love her.

Two of our favorites- Mission Impossible (with The Piano Guys) and Thrift Shop, which makes m want to go to Goodwill asap.

Okay, stop what you’re doing…

And go read this article.

Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Finished? Then go here.

Y’all know I watch a lot of TV. So believe me when I tell you, this is one of the best shows I’ve ever watched. Yes, it’s about high school. Yes, Paris Hilton makes a cameo. Yes, the first half of the third season was completely tragic. But other than that, it’s a really fantastic show. And it totally deserves to be made into a movie.

Because I need me some brooding. And if it’s in space, then well… I’ll just die.  (Okay I don’t really expect it to be in space, but how awesome would that be??)

Okay last birthday post…

Well probably not actually, since we haven’t gone to the beach yet. So technically I’m not yet 35 since the ocean hasn’t washed away 34 yet. But I digress…

So my birthday was on a Monday this year, which meant Jason had to work. But he had a Dr. appointment that day, so he got home early. Which meant I got to see him in daylight on a weekday, which was a nice present in itself.

This year we continued the tradition of getting me a Cookie Puss ice cream cake from Carvel. Jason has gotten me one every year since we’ve been married, except for last year when he actually MADE me a cake (!)

The conversation went something like this…

Jason: Do you want ice cream cake this year?
Jen: Are you going to help me eat it?
Jason: Yes, I’ll help
Jen: More than one peace? So I won’t end up eating the whole thing again?
Jason: I’ll have two pieces. *pauses* And you’ve been doing really good with not getting doughnuts at the grocery store.
Jen: It’s been three weeks…
Jason: So I thought as a reward for not eating doughnuts, I’d buy you an ice cream cake.
Jen: Sounds reasonable…


So I got a Cookie Puss. And Jason and the Little Man sang to me. It was awesome.


It was a really nice day. I got lots of calls and texts and FB messages. Lots of singing and birthday cards with kitties.

It’s also my BIL’s birthday. (All the cool people are born on February 11th). He sent me this video awhile back and I just KNOW y’all want to watch it. French kitties!

Thanks to my love for making every birthday (and every day) special.

30 Days of Lists- Day 28

Little joys in my life-

  • Time for quiet and solitude.
  • Reading.
  • Having everything laid out the night before so I don’t have to rush in the morning.
  • Curling up on the couch.
  • Hearing the people I love laugh
  • Marking things off my To-Do’s
  • Holding hands
  • Spacing out while watching BBT
  • Squishy kitty faces
  • Walks
  • Taking pictures
  • Cooking a good meal
  • Having someone else cook me a good meal

I really like this one. I think I want to repeat it once a season.

List made 9.25.12

Curious about 30 Days of Lists? Check them out here. See all my lists (so far) here.

30 Days of Lists- Days 23-25

Current favorites
Anything grey
Thinking about decorating with Maps, Text or Stripes
Salty Caramel frappuccinos
My new laptop
Couch snuggling
Talks with my sister

Yesterday was-
Filled with at least four of my Current Favorites above.
A bit scary with wildlife entering my house
A pretty typical Monday

Places I’ve lived- (short list)
W. Palm

List made 9.25.12

Curious about 30 Days of Lists? Check them out here. See all my lists (so far) here.

Recipe for my favorite homemade pizza

I’ve been making this pizza ever since my friend Robert gave me my bread machine back in 2000. That’s how much I love it. The book it came from is literally falling apart. And this recipe in particular has so many stains on the page that it’s almost illegible. I’m going to write the recipe out as the book has it, then put my own notes in bold.

First the crust. It’s supposed to be made in a bread machine, but I’m assuming that you can make it without the machine, just do it like you would make regular pizza dough. I’ve never tried this before though.

Crust Ingredients-
1 cup plus 2 tbs. water Room temperature
2 tbs. olive oil or vegetable oil
3 cups Better for Bread flour I have used all purpose before and it’s been fine, but you might need to add a little more water to get the right consistency 
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 1/2 tsp. bread machine yeast Regular yeast works fine

Add ingredients to bread machine in the order listed. Set to Dough cycle. Do not use Delay cycle.

If you don’t have a bread machine…
I found a similar recipe to mine that uses a stand mixer instead of a bread machine. You can see it here on Simply Recipes. Note that I’ve never tried it this way, but it seems similar to what my machine does in terms of kneading and resting time, etc.
Combine water and yeast. Let stand 5-10 minutes until yeast is dissolved. Stir if necessary. Using the paddle attachment, combine yeast mixture with remaining dough ingredients and mix on low for 1 minute. Remove the paddle mixer and put on the dough hook. Knead on low to medium speed for about 10 minutes, until it forms a smooth elastic dough ball. (You can also hand knead the dough if you don’t have a mixer).
Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for an hour, or until doubled in size. (See linked recipe for more details on this step). Punch down and let rest for 10 minutes.

While your dough is working, you can start on the Chunky Sauce.

Chunky Sauce ingredients-
3 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped or you can use 2 cans diced tomatoes, drained
1 medium onion, chopped or use 1/2 cup pre-chopped frozen or fresh onion
1 cup sliced mushrooms I usually use the whole container of mushrooms because I love them. If you don’t like mushrooms, you can just chop up another tomato to bulk up the sauce 
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp. fresh basil, or 1 tsp. dried
1 tbsp. fresh oregano, or 1 tsp. dried
1 tsp. salt I usually only use 1/2 tsp if I’m making a sausage pizza
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

Combine all ingredients. This can be made ahead of time and kept in the fridge to let the flavors mix together.

Pizza Ingredients-
Pizza dough
2 tsp. olive or vegetable oil
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (about 8 oz.)
1 pound sausage or ground beef, cooked and drained
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
Chunky tomato sauce

Now you have three choices, regular crust, thick crust, or really thick crust.

Thinner crust-
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Grease a jelly roll pan (15 1/2 x 10 1/2 x 1 inch with oil). Press dough into bottom and sides of pan. Brush 2 tsp. oil over dough. I’ve skipped the extra oil before and it’s been fine. Sprinkle with 1 cup mozzarella cheese. Top with sausage, chunky sauce, parmesan cheese, and the remaining mozzarella.
Bake on bottom oven rack for 25-30 minutes, or until crust is brown and cheese is melted and bubbly. Let sit 10 minutes before slicing.

Thicker crust-
Brush two round pans (9 x 1 in.) with oil. Divide dough in half. Press dough into bottom and sides of pans. Continue with instructions above, placing half of the ingredients on each pizza. Bake as diected.

Super thick crust.
My two round pans got destroyed after a bad trip through the dishwasher. Instead of buying new pans, I decided to use what I had, which was a glass 9 x 11 cake pan. This makes a really thick squishy crust, ad I think it’s my favorite. The directions are the same, except you might want to keep it in the oven about 5 more minutes.

A few notes…
According to the book’s recipe, using hydroponic tomatoes is not recommended for the sauce due to higher water content.
I have made this using wheat flour, but it’s been awhile. I think my ratio was 1 cup wheat flour and 2 cups regular flour. I’ll try that next time and edit the recipe accordingly.
You can, of course use different toppings. I’ve made this pizza with many combinations of toppings.

Twelve for August

This is a completely scrapbooking post. If you don’t have the Scrapbooking Rabies like me, feel free to skip. Unless you’re my dad, because he’s the one who shelled out the dollars for this class for me, so he might be interested in where the dollars went. 🙂

I’ve been taking an online scrapbooking class this year called Twelve. It’s taught by Stacey Julian, who is seriously like my scrapbooking idol. She is awesome in so many ways and on so many levels I could probably do a whole series of posts just about how much I heart her.

I’m going to backtrack a little and say that when I first found this hobby, I was pretty overwhelmed. There was just so much stuff. Photo editing, journaling, techniques, products. Through my “evolution of scrap” I finally figured out what my main purposes and goals were for my pages. This was a long process, but something I think every scrapper needs to go through. I found that I loved the photos, and I wanted to use them to tell stories. Some people like it for the artistic expression, some want to leave a family legacy for their children. But those things didn’t really interest me. I love great product and if others want to look at my pages, that’s great. But I mostly scrap because I want to tell stories with photos and words. Okay and pretty products too.

The main premise in the class is that we all have so many stories to tell. We need to find a way to cultivate our own ways of capturing our ideas and setting them up for future reference. You are the curator of your stories. When you have set up your own “inspiration file”, you have a place to keep all the random bits and pieces of inspiration. When you’re actively looking for inspiration in your life, you’ll find it literally everywhere you look. Having a place, whether physical or virtual (mine is in Evernote), to keep everything together means that I very rarely have “scrapper’s block”.

If I’m assigned a kit with a theme to CT for, I can easily know what story I can tell and often what photos to use. I have a good 200 ideas just ready and waiting for me to scrap them at any time. And I get more ideas all the time.

Stacey decided that she wanted to concentrate on twelve topics for this year. The topics are Me, People, Places, Things, Personality, Holidays, Rituals, Everyday, Inspiration, Fun, Family Stories, and Seasons. Each month she tries to do a page or project about each topic. She has also expanded the projects to include things like mini books, home movies, and even a website. She will eventually have 144 pages/ projects for this year.

Throughout the past 9 months I have not made a LO for each topic each year. Not even close. But the topics are never far from my mind and they have had a great influence on the pages I’ve made this year. I’ve never been this consistently inspired. It’s been amazing.

I would like to share a few of the pages I made last month based on the Twelve Categories.

Me: Pretty self-explanatory. I made a LO about my birthday this year (which could have also gone into the Holidays category) and a siggy for the forums.

People: LO about the Little Man

Places: Jacksonville Naval Base

Things: A great photo my FIL took and a LO about mini golf

Personality: Miss Kitty definitely has personality 😛 and a LO about how Jason and I feel about being on boats.

Holidays: Not strictly a Holiday LO, but it was about the beginning of the summer with Little Man.

Rituals: I don’t necessarily love the word “rituals” (reminds me of satanic rituals), so I think of this as the “Stuff we do a lot/ habits/ patterns” category. A LO about Little Man playing guitar with Daddy and Grandpa M. And a LO about how I like to take sneaky pictures while nobody’s looking.

Everyday: A LO about the music I listen to a lot. I also count Project Life LO’s in this category.

Inspiration: A LO about a gorgeous chocolate sculpture

Fun: LO’s about riding in min cars and all the fun places I’d like to travel to with Jason.

Family Stories: a story about Jason’s grandfather singing in the car. Could have also gone in the Rituals category because we sing in the car at the beginning of every long trip.

Seasons: A LO about saying goodbye to LM for the year- my least favorite time of year. And a LO about hurricane season.

This was a really prolific month. I was just brimming with inspiration after an eventful summer, so most of the LO’s had something to do with that, or traveling. I was also lucky enough to work with several really fabulous kits in my CT this month.

This was a super long post. If you’ve made it this far, Thank You! 🙂

30 Days of Lists- Day 11

Today’s prompt is-

Favorite scents/ smells

Pi cologne
Bread baking
Medical tape
Vanilla candles
Oranges, or anything citrusy
Onions, celery, carrots, and garlic cooking (because it means there will be soup)
Cilantro, basil, mint, or any fresh herbs

I’m pretty boring with smells, except maybe the medical tape. I seriously love that smell. Mostly I love food smells and homey smells. 🙂

List made 9.10.12

Curious about 30 Days of Lists? Check them out here. See all my lists (so far) here.

Some of my favorite posts

Now that I’ve reached the milestone of writing 100 posts, I wanted to gather up a few of my favorites since I started this blog, waaaayyy back at the beginning of February.

Our Love Story and Our Engagement Story

52 in 52 Weeks original post and update

Thoughts on Home, a post I wrote during the stress of moving

Jason is Great Week, Jason’s (belated) birthday week

Hatsume Fair, fun day with friends

Cinco de Mayo, our first celebration at our new place

Father’s Day, where I got a little crafty

Talking about spending the summer with the Little Man, and how much he’s changed in a year. And of course the trip to pick him up.

Working out my feelings once he left.

Trying to start a garden

Fourth of July, Pinterest style

My obsession with Hunger Games

Posts on gratitude

And a few more goodies from my sidebar right now. I add these because I’m planning to change things up in the fall, so it will look different soon.


I have really loved having this space to document and share what’s going on in our lives. Can’t wait to see what the next 100 posts will bring 🙂