Conspiracy Theory

I have a theory.  A conspiracy theory.

I am starting to believe that there are unseen forces at work to keep me from exercising.  Sprites…gnomes…gremlins…I’m not 100% sure what form they’ve taken, but they are definitely out to get me.  First it was shin splints.  Then a weak hip.  Then a broken toe.  Most recently?  A stupid cough.

It’s always something, right?

Six weeks ago, I got an upper respiratory infection of some kind (viral), and the cough lingered forever.  I had to take four weeks off from exercise, since any small movement – getting up, sitting down, breathing in general – sent me into a coughing fit.  I finally got back to my aerobics two weeks ago, and even though I could only give about 90% effort at first, it felt good to be active again.

We’ll see how long it lasts before the next sprite-ly attack occurs.

My family fell prey to the potpourri of winter ailments, too.  Double ear infections, strep throat, fever…the usual January/February stuff.  But I think we are all on the mend.

We’ve had a few warm days recently, and even though I LOVE winter, I have to admit the warmer temps are nice.  With the pending time change next month, I hope I will be able to get back outside for walking/jogging/running.  I love being outdoors!  Exercising to an aerobics video in my bedroom is good, but getting fresh air and walking past my beloved cow-spectator-friends in our neighbor’s fields is way more fun!  Tonight, I compromised.  Aerobics in my bedroom with our balcony door open.  :)

open door

Such a pretty day!

Despite not being able to exercise for most of January, I did lose about five pounds – yay!  Mostly just because I was no longer stuffing my face at holiday parties.  No weight lost in February, sadly.  But it’s good to be back on a “normal” (read – “busy”) routine with Spring just around the corner.  Our Spring Break starts in 18 days.  Can’t…get here…soon enough….

I mentioned in a previous post that my 20-year high school reunion is this summer, and the committee recently announced that it will be in July.  What a motivator to get back in shape!  I’m not under any delusions that I can ever reclaim my high school size, but I would like to look somewhat healthy when I reconnect with my old chums.  I can’t wait to see how everyone has changed!

Well, that’s about all the news I have for now.  I hope you are sticking to any New Year’s goals you set for yourself.  I recently heard on the radio that the first week of February is when most people give up their New Year’s resolutions.  Here is a link to some fun facts about how people did with their resolutions in 2015:  http://www.statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statistics/

Whatever goal you’re working toward, don’t give up!  :)

Cooking Goals

So, the first week of my revamped weight-loss efforts went fairly well.  :)

I exercised four of the seven days since my last post.  Not a bad start!  I’m starting over very slowly.  As someone who’s dealt with shin splints and other workout-woes in the past, I know from experience that starting out easy then increasing the intensity of activity gradually is key to avoiding injury.  I’ve done too-much-too-soon in the past, and it makes you want to quit when you’ve barely even begun!

Today was my first day back at work after Christmas break.  Let’s just say it was a Monday…ten-fold.  But exhausting day as it was, I managed to use what little stamina I had left to cook a healthy dinner.  It wasn’t a very fancy dinner – pork loin, green beans, and rice – in fact, it’s very dull – but it’s a step toward a new goal I’ve set:  cooking at home more often.

I like cooking.  I’m not very good at it, but I enjoy it.  I’m way better at baking – sweet treats, especially – which I’m sure accounts for a good portion of my waistline problems.  But I am not a very experienced cooker-of-dinners.  Why?  Several reasons.  First, my mom wasn’t a very fancy cook.  Everything she prepared was delicious, but it was usually pretty basic.

Second, I never really bothered to learn to cook beyond my comfort zone when I got married.  There were only two of us, and as many newlyweds have discovered, it wasn’t really worth all that effort to cook for two people.  Eating out was way more fun, and since we didn’t have kids or serious financial commitments early on, we could afford it!

Now, if you know me, you know I love my husband more than anything on God’s green earth.  Anything.  Even chocolate.  But you also know that he is the single most picky eater I have ever encountered.  That is…until our children were born.  Our firstborn is almost as bad as his father.  Our second-born is a hundred times worse.  Oh. My. Word.  It boggles the mind.

So I have a house full of picky eaters.  Or, people with “very selective palates,” as my husband says in attempt to make it sound classy.  Nice try.  You’re picky, honey.  It is next to IMPOSSIBLE to get them to try new foods.  I’ve even bribed the children (and the hubs) with trips to fun places…like Disneyworld.  No dice.  They’d rather go hungry.  So I am resigned to cook very plain, simple meals that they will eat.  While I’m happy to eat anything and everything under the sun!  Except olives and mushrooms.

<shivers>  I shudder just thinking about them.

I have decided to try what lots of people out there do:  fix a large (healthy) dish and take it to work with me during the week.  I’ve added this goal to my weight-loss plan, because eating out for lunch was one of several contributing factors to my putting on ten pounds of the twenty I lost.  I used to treat myself to eating out for lunch once a week.  That was a splurge I allowed myself to have when I went back to work full-time.  I love taking the opportunity every week to sit and have lunch alone.  Occasionally I will go with a friend, and that’s lots of fun too.

But this summer and fall – during and after the dreaded auction preparations – I was so stressed out that I stopped making an effort to pack healthy lunches.  There were weeks when I’d eat out two or three times for lunch.  Couple that with eating out a few nights every week, and I was eating out waaaaay too much.  So I would like to start cooking healthy dishes that I can take to work.

New, bold, exciting dishes that no one else in my house will want.  :)

Does anyone out there have a stack of magazines like this:

Cooking Light

Magazines that you’ve saved for reasons you can’t explain?  Pictures of home décor you keep meaning to cut out?  DIY projects and crafts you think you might try someday?  Vacation spots you’d like to visit?

Back when I started this blog two years ago, I started a subscription to Cooking Light so I could discover fresh, new, healthy recipes.  I think in two years I have cooked one recipe from this magazine.  Because I kept waiting for a dish I thought my family might enjoy.  Clearly, I will never find new favorite recipes if I factor in their “selectiveness.”  So I am going to forge ahead and cook new dishes that I want to try.  I am going to revisit these old issues of Cooking Light, looking only through the lens of what I think sounds appealing.

I’m thinking maybe cooking on Sunday nights will work.  We almost always eat a big family meal on Sunday afternoons, so I rarely eat dinner on Sunday nights.  If I do, it’s just a bowl of cereal or a small bag of popcorn.  Occasionally, my husband has to be gone overnight, so those nights will be good for adventurous cooking, too.

If you have a favorite recipe that 1) is healthy, 2) doesn’t have lots of pricey/hard to find ingredients, and – most importantly – 3) is easy to prepare, please share it in the comments section.  I’m open to anything!  :)

Happy cooking, friends!

The blog is back!

I am that blogger.  The one who only published a handful of posts, then didn’t post at all for over a year.

Oops.

But I’m back!  I’m disappointed that I let the blog go for so long, but I’ve been a very busy lady.  My last post was in June 2014…a year and a half ago!  For shame.  Thankfully, in The Rules section of this blog, I hinted that my posts might be sporadic.  But I didn’t mean for them to be that sporadic.  (By the way, if this is your first time to read my blog, feel free to poke around!)

I’ve changed my countdown in the right margin to June 2017.  That’s quite an extension from my original deadline of June 2014!  But based on how busy things have been for me lately, I’m guessing I better give myself a lot of leeway, both for losing weight and for saving money.  Next year will be my 20-year high school reunion (ummm…WHAT?!?) and I’ll turn 40 in 2017 (ummm…DOUBLE WHAT?!?).  So there are several big milestones on the horizon to motivate me.  :)

Here are a few highlights – and lowlights? – from the last 18 months of my life:

June 2014

At the outset of this blog, I mentioned in The Dream that I wanted to celebrate achieving my goals by taking a big vacation with my husband.  I also mentioned that it would take a significant chunk of change to make that happen.  Last June we ended up having to replace the roof over our garage…which took every penny of our vacation savings.  Boo!  But that’s life.  We started saving again.

July 2014

July was a very busy month!  My boys and I went with my parents to St. Louis for a Cardinals game over 4th of July weekend.  A couple weeks later, I got to go to New Orleans for a mission trip with the women’s ministry from my church.  Road trips do usually mean lots of eating out, and I did splurge several times, but I stayed plenty active on both trips!  No significant weight loss, but no weight gain.

Cards game!

Busch Stadium

October 2014

On October 4th – which is my birthday! – I got to participate in my first 5K…Race for the Cure!  I’ve participated in the Race at least a half dozen times, but I have always been with a group, and we have always done the 2K walk.  This was my first time doing the 5K walk/run.  It was so much fun!  :)  I didn’t get to participate in the 2015 Race (explanation coming), but I hope I’ll get to participate next year.

2014 Race for the Cure

November 2014

We decided to list our house for sale by owner.  Nothing is more exhausting than trying to clean and prep your house for sale.

January 2015

My husband began his third term in the Arkansas legislature, and he was also sworn in as Speaker of the House for the Arkansas 90th General Assembly.  It was overwhelming!  We also had the honor of attending the Governor’s Inaugural Ball for our newly elected Governor.

At this point I also started planning the Speaker’s Ball, which is held every two years to honor the Speaker of the House.  It was a huge undertaking, with only two months to plan!  And only two months to find a dress.  ;)  While the planning was fun, it consumed a lot of my “free” time.  Between that and cold winter temps, I did very little regular exercise during that time.

March 2015

The Speaker’s Ball, held March 19th, was pretty much one of the top ten nights of my entire life.  It was absolutely magical.  We designed the event with an old Hollywood/Great Gatsby-ish them, and we gave out “Oscars” to the House of Representative staff.  It was an INCREDIBLE night!

Speaker's Ball 1

Speaker's Ball 2

Speaker's Ball 3

April 2015

In April, we took a four-day weekend to go to the beach!  It was my children’s first trip to the beach, and they loved it.  We went to Orange Beach, AL, and decided it was something we would gladly make an annual trip…if only we could afford it.  <sigh>  I miss the ocean.  This little taste of summer and the warmer weather got me back to slightly more regular exercise, but again, not enough to see any significant weight loss.

May 2015

Our house did not sell after a six-month listing, but we REEEALLY wanted to sell it, so we decided to have an auction to see if we could attract buyers that way.  More cleaning.  More prepping.  More stress.  More savings used for repairs.

July 2015

The first week of July, I took a nasty fall down the stairs in our house and nearly broke my big toe on my right foot.  Ow.  Based on the amount of pain I was in, I say it was broken…but x-rays showed otherwise.  This put me out of running and aerobics for over three months.  So much for all those summer workouts I had planned.  Well, who am I kidding…I was so busy getting things ready for the auction, cleaning had become my main form of exercise anyway.

July marked the beginning of a rough patch in my weight loss success.  :(

August 2015

School started.  The auction was held.  Our house did not sell…again.  <sigh>  All that work for nothing.

It was very discouraging, but we decided that God must have some reason for us to stay in our current house.  And as disappointed as I was that the house didn’t sell, I was SO happy to have all that housework behind me.  I don’t think I cleaned again for about two months!  I had a cleaning block.  I simply could…not…dust…or vacuum…one…more…room.

After the auction, everything was pretty much a blur.  And during that extremely stressful time, the weight I’d worked so hard to lose started finding it’s way back to me.

And then the holiday season started.

And here I am.

Four days before New Year’s…resurrecting my blog…because New Year’s weight-loss resolutions are just around the corner.  So I figured I’d go ahead and start now.  It feels really good to be blogging again.  :)  I was much more aware of my weight-loss progress – or lack thereof – when I was using this blog.

Late last year, I did reach the halfway point of my goal – I lost 20 lbs of the 40 lbs I set out to lose.  Ten of those pounds are already back.  Ugh.  So I have 30 lbs to lose from this point forward.  I had gotten to the point where it was necessary to buy smaller sizes in pants – yay! – but those pants are now a little bit tight.  Uh oh.

Starting over is somewhat of a bummer.  I’ll have to walk more than jog for a while…I’ll have to go back to my 25-minute aerobic video until I work my way back up to my 45-minute video…that sort of thing.  Yes, starting over is a drag, but it’s better than not starting at all.

Rough patch over.  :)

Thanks for taking a few minutes to catch up with me.  I hope you had a very Merry Christmas!  I have been to nine Christmas parties this month.  NINE.  Oh boy.  I have my work cut out for me in 2016!  And I pray that 2016 will be the year YOU set out to follow a dream or goal of your own.  Even if it’s been 18 months since you first started.  ;)

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2:14

The countdown is over?!?

Wow.  The past eleven months have flown by.  I started this blog last July with a goal of losing 40 lbs by my 15th wedding anniversary…which was Thursday!  Not only have I not reached my goal, I’m not even halfway to my goal!  Haha!  Guess it’s time for a little reflection….

So I lost 15 lbs last summer and fall, and somehow managed to keep it off through the holidays and winter months.  I had really hoped to be halfway to my goal (down 20 lbs) by the end of 2013, but I didn’t make it.  A faulty hip and several other obstacles kept me from exercising as much as I would have liked, not to mention the hectic holiday season.  I had high hopes for spring, but it is such a busy season for my family, and it seemed that I would never get back into the swing of things.  Now that school is out for summer (hallelujah!), I have finally gotten back into a (mostly) consistent exercise routine.

Some of you may have noticed that I have a countdown running on the side of my blog that was counting down to me and my husband’s 15th anniversary: June 26th.  As you may recall from The Dream, I wanted to lose those 40 lbs before we reached this milestone.  Well, today is June 28th, and I have not reached that goal.  But all is not lost…I’m giving myself a deadline extension!

That’s the beauty of setting your own goals, right?!?  I can adapt and rework them as needed.  So my new goal is to finish losing the weight by November 15th.  What’s so special about November 15th, you ask?  My husband and I are still saving and planning for a big, getaway trip to celebrate our anniversary.  Because he is a farmer and busy with the harvest during the summer, we knew we’d have to take a trip sometime this fall or winter.  Because my husband is also in politics, he will also be busy from now until the November election.  So we’re thinking we might try to sneak away after the dust from Election Day settles, but before he takes office in January.  (Spoiler alert:  He’s unopposed in his race, so unless something bizarre happens, he wins!)

So an extension to November gives me almost five additional months to meet my goal.  And if I haven’t lost those 40 stinkin’ pounds by then, I’m sure I’ll give myself another extension.  ;)  I’ve heard that it is good to lose weight slowly…but I didn’t mean to lose it this slowly!

The summer is off to a great start, though.  After taking off a week and a half from running to get rid of that cough, I started back VERY slowly to build up my endurance.  I probably shouldn’t say this out loud, but…so far, so good.  No shin splints, no hip problems, no cough.  Maybe, just maybe, I am starting to get the hang of this running thing.  I hope so, because I really enjoy it.

I know not very many people read this blog (which is fine, it’s really more for myself than anything), but for those of you reading this, please continue to pray for me.  And keep those comments coming…I love hearing from you!  :)

I’ll leave you with some more pictures from my morning walking/running path and the obvious joke that goes along with them.  Here’s to a good summer!

chicken1

Q:  Why did the chicken cross the road?

A:  To get away from the crazy runner who was slightly scared of them and the strange noises they were making!

chicken2

chicken3

And of course, my cows are still cheering for me.  And they are happy about my extension to finish my goal.  Can’t you see it on their faces?!?

cows

My Love/Hate Relationship with Running

Oh boy.  How to begin this post?  I have so much on my mind I don’t know where to start.  First of all, I hate that I have only been making about one blog entry a month…not very bloggy of me.  It’s been more than a month since my last post.  A lot has happened during that time, and yet I feel that there’s not much to report.  Just the usual life-stuff that keeps me hopping.  The most noteworthy news is that I got to squeeze in a quick trip to Albuquerque to visit with friends…yay!  Other than that, it was business as usual.

I need to clarify two things in the title of today’s post: 1) it’s really more of a like/dislike relationship that I have with running (love and hate are probably too strong), and 2) when I say “running,” I really mean jogging/walking.  I do not – and sadly don’t think I ever will – consider myself a runner.  Remember when I first tried running last fall, I ended up with the most terrible shin splints.  I think that the main culprit of those shin splints was that I was running a path in my neighborhood with lots of hills.  After I finally recovered, cold weather had started to set in and the days were getting shorter, so I never really got back in the groove.

I really thought things would turn around for me this spring, but it seems they may not.  I can’t really come up with a cohesive way to tie together all my thoughts about my running experience, so today you are getting a list of random thoughts, some funny, some serious, and a few pictures sprinkled in.

Running Randomness

  1. Consistency is my biggest problem.  When my oldest son’s basketball season ended in February, he moved right into spring soccer.  At our local soccer complex, there is a decently smooth paved path between and around most of the fields.  Since the weather was starting to get nicer, I decided to start taking my running clothes to work so I could walk/jog at the soccer fields after work.  I was amazed at how easy it was!  A nice, flat area to run meant no shin splints for me, thank goodness.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t always the one to take him to practice, and soccer season was short-lived with several rainouts.  There is also a nice running/bike trail near my work, but I almost always have to hurry to pick up my boys from their grandma’s house.  The only time I can run on that trail is if my husband can pick up the boys.  Which leaves me with running in the mornings or evenings in my neighborhood.  So this past week, I started jogging in my neighborhood again, this time going a different direction that is not as hill-y as my previous path.  Here is a picture of said new path:running path
  2. Swallowing bugs is so gross.  I’m sure this happens to city-dwellers too, but running on a country highway has caused me to swallow lots of extra rough-age.
  3. But the fragrance of honeysuckles is amazing!  Oh my, the air is heavy with the smell of honeysuckles right now!  This was something I haven’t encountered yet since I started running in the late summer/early fall.  Running in the spring is great!honeysuckles
  4. Running is giving me bronchitis.  Okay, maybe that’s a little dramatic, but this week I have encountered a whole new problem with running…runner’s cough!  It’s a real phenomenon!  This week I ran on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  Wednesday night I started having a little bit of a cough, and by Thursday afternoon it was getting worse.  Friday morning I was coughing so deep that my chest was burning and I had to get out my cough drops.  I have heard of “runner’s knee” and things like that, so I decided to search online for information about “runner’s cough”…and I found all sorts of information about it.  The biggest thing I learned from my research is that I’ve been breathing wrong.  Figures.  I guess I’m supposed to be breathing from my belly.  And also inhaling through my nose, which I’ve tried before and found to be very difficult.  Anywho, I read several interesting articles.  Here is the link to an article from Runner’s World, which I found to be the most helpful:  http://www.runnersworld.com/tag/breathing  I debated about whether or not I should run yesterday (Friday) since my chest was already hurting a little, but I decided I would go ahead and run a shortened path with my newfound breathing information.  Today I am coughing up green stuff.  Yuck.  This has not been an issue before.  Why is it happening to me now?  I read that it could be the pollen, humidity, or other environmental factors, but who knows.  I’ve wondered if running on a treadmill would be better, but now that I’ve run outdoors, I’m not sure I could enjoy a treadmill.  <sigh again>  Maybe I’ll give it a try.
  5. Cows make a great audience.  I pretend that they are cheering for me as I pass them.  Or maybe telling me to “Eat Mor Chikin.”  No, I cannot run on a treadmill without cows.running audience
  6. I enjoy running.  I really do.  I love being outside, and I feel like I’m going somewhere.  As I mentioned in The Plan, I’d love to run a 5K someday.  It’s still a goal I’d like to reach, but boy running is complicated.  For me anyway.  Does it come very naturally to some people?  It seems like a science, this running business.  And I never really did care for science.  I’m not giving up yet, but I can’t seem to get the hang of it.  Between trying to arrange childcare and getting my body to cooperate, it seems like running may not be in the cards for me.  I guess we’ll see how things go after I get over this cough.

Well, it’s about time for me to sign off.  Despite my yucky cough, I did a ton of yard work this morning, and I’m worn out!  I wish you all a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend.  Please thank a service man or woman for their dedication to our country!  My silly running problems seem trivial when thinking about those who gave their all for our nation and our freedoms.  May God bless and comfort those who lost someone in the line of duty.  Goodnight, friends!

 

Printemps!

C’est le printemps!  It’s spring!  The birds are singing, the flowers are blooming, and we can enjoy the outdoors again!

Goodness, I hate that I only posted one time for the entire month of March, but spring is always a super busy time for me.  (Well, what season isn’t, really?)  After Upward basketball we rolled straight into spring soccer, which I vowed I would never do again.  Spring soccer is so cold and so rainy.  We’ve already had two games cancelled.

Because of all the snow days we had – ice days, really – our boys had two days of Saturday school.  They also had to give up two days of their Spring Break, but after that we managed to sneak them away to Branson for a few days.  It was cold, but we had a great time visiting some classic Branson haunts like Silver Dollar City.  Our oldest son tried his first adult roller coaster and loved it!

One thing I always love about Branson is the outlet mall.  We did hit a few stores, but this year I didn’t shop nearly as much as I would have liked.  I am hoping that I will continue to lose weight, and therefore need to go on a shopping spree for smaller sizes than are currently in my closet.  I have lost enough weight that some of my pants are swallowing me, so I’ve bought a couple of new pairs of pants to get me through my work week.  But I’d love if I needed a whole new wardrobe this fall and next spring!

Besides being busy, I also didn’t post much during March because there wasn’t much to report.  I didn’t lose a single pound, but I also didn’t gain anything, so I guess that’s good.  April is already off to a great start!  I have started taking my running shoes/clothes with me to my son’s soccer practice so I can walk and jog during that time.  My hip seems to be doing better these days, so I’m back to my aerobics at home, too.

Sorry this post isn’t very exciting…I was determined to post something tonight, even if it is dull!  Hopefully my next post will be juicier.  I’ll leave you with a few spring-inspired pictures from my mom’s flower beds, our fruit farm, and our trip to Branson.  Hope you have an opportunity to get outside this week!

flowers1

flowers2

butterflies

 

Fondue for Two

Greetings from Antarctica!  Oh wait…I mean Arkansas.  We are iced in…again…and it makes me forget where I live.  But that gives me time to catch up on the blog, so I won’t complain!

As mentioned in my previous post, my husband and I had to postpone our Valentine’s plans on account of the flu in our household.  Our plans finally came to fruition last Saturday, and we had such a great night!  Let me give you a little backstory first….

My hubby, Jeremy, and I have a tradition of taking turns surprising the other with Valentine’s Day plans.  So one year, he’s in charge of planning Valentine’s, and the next year, I’m in charge of our plans.  And so on and so forth.  Several years ago, I surprised him with a trip to Memphis to see “Spamalot” (which was so stinkin’ fantastic) and dinner at The Melting Pot.  When I told him it was a fondue restaurant, my usually up-for-anything husband said, “Do what?!?”  Haha!  He is a very picky eater, and fondue was something he never intended to try.

When we got to The Melting Pot, we were shocked to discover that you cooked your own food.  We were like, “We came all this way and are paying all this money to cook our own dinner?”  Little did we know what a fun experience it would be!  For any readers who have not experienced The Melting Pot, you get four amazing courses when you order the whole nine yards: cheese fondue, salad, entrée, and chocolate fondue.  The entrée is the part where you do your own cooking – and it was so much fun.

We were hooked upon the first bite of the cheese fondue, but if we hadn’t been, the variety of meats would have sealed the deal for my husband, and the chocolate fondue would have made a believer out of me.  All this to say, we love The Melting Pot!  It is a bit pricey, so we usually only go once a year, usually for Valentine’s Day or our anniversary.  We love the fondue experience so much that we asked my parents for a nice Cuisinart fondue pot for Christmas four years ago.  And they bought us one.  And we never used it.  Until now….

Flash forward to Valentine’s Day 2014, my year to be in charge of Valentine’s Day.  I thought to myself, “By golly, I am going to use that fondue pot that’s been in the cupboard for four years to fix a romantic fondue dinner for us at home.”  I hadn’t gotten around to using it because I knew it was going to be a huge undertaking.  But I was determined to make it happen!  I got on The Melting Pot’s website back in January to see if they had any of their recipes listed, and lo and behold, they are now selling a Melting Pot cookbook!  I ordered one right away, along with some marinade, salad dressing, seasoning, and chocolate wafers.  My goal was to recreate a night at The Melting Pot…and we did.

It really was quite a production…it took us five hours!  Lol!  We started at 5:00pm and didn’t finish until 10:00pm.  There was a half hour break in there for me to rest…I was worn out!  Not only was there TONS of prep-work that started the night before, I had to clean the fondue pot between each course.  My back was killing me from all the cooking and dishwashing.  But it was so much fun.  Jeremy was my sous-chef, and I every time I needed him I’d holler, “Get this, Sous!” or “Fetch that, Sous!”  It was great bossing him around the kitchen, and he learned a lot.  Together, we cooked a fabulous meal.

Here are some pictures from each of our four courses:

We started with a traditional Swiss cheese fondue.  Not nearly as good as the cheddar one we order at The Melting Pot, but I wanted to start with a classic.

cheese fondue

Next up were salads with The Melting Pot’s house dressing.  Can you guess which salad is Jeremy’s?

salads

The main course included teriyaki sirloin, jumbo shrimp, barbecue pork loin, and four cheese ravioli (for me).  On the side, we had potatoes and broccoli.  We had so much leftover food, it was ridiculous.

main course

The fourth and final course was Bananas Foster fondue, which is made with white chocolate.  Absolutely. Divine.  This course was all mine, and I had all kind of goodies for dipping: strawberries, bananas, pound cake, marshmallows rolled in graham cracker crumbs, Rice Krispie treats, and sugar cookie pieces.  And of course, plain iced sugar cookies for my honey.

chocolate fondue

It was a memorable evening for sure, and even though it was hard work, I look forward to doing it again.  Not anytime soon, but sometime.  I am so thankful for my Valentine.  He is my best friend, amazing father, hard worker, and love of my life.  He has been very supportive of my weight loss goals, and I look forward to celebrating with him when I accomplish them.  Maybe we’ll celebrate with a trip to The Melting Pot.

Ode to a Cadbury Creme Egg

“Oh, messenger of spring,

how you lift my soul when I see you in the store.

Your shiny foil wrapper brings a tear to my eye,

and I realize that everything is right in the world.

Your milk chocolate shell…so scrumptious.

Your soft fondant center…so decadent.

Your richness is worth more than all the gold in the land.

Though each moment with you is precious,

it’s for the best that our time together is brief.

When Easter has passed, we must go our separate ways,

for I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I…keep going.

Oh, and I love you with milk.”

creme eggs

Okay, you get the point.  I love Cadbury Creme Eggs.  And yes, I bought a five-pack of them at the store last weekend.  I couldn’t find them last year!  By the time I gave in to the urge to buy one, all I could find were the mini-eggs, which are totally different and completely inferior.  So even though Easter is still two months away, these babies are hot-off-the-shelf so I don’t miss out this year.

In other news, I am still struggling to get back to a regular exercise routine.  Things have been super-busy lately (nothing new there), and I’ve only managed to squeeze in a few sporadic workouts.  The good news is that I have been able to exercise without any serious flare-ups with my hip.  It’s still sore sometimes, but it’s not popping out of place anymore.  For the time being….

I was really looking forward to a fun night of cooking with husband for Valentine’s Day, but our oldest son came down with the flu.  :(  Thankfully we caught it very early, and he recovered nicely.  So our cooking plans have been rescheduled for this weekend.  Stay tuned for details!

One thing that has made me determined to get back on track ASAP is the warmer temperatures we’ve had this week.  It’ll be time for flip-flops and shorts before we know it, and I am hoping to buy some new spring clothes!  My winter clothes have gotten pretty loose, but I’m trying not to buy too many new clothes because I am only about halfway to my weight-loss goals.  I think it will be kinda fun – and kinda sad, because I get attached to my faves – to pull out my spring and summer clothes and find that they are too big for me.  Warmer weather has also got me thinking about that tropical vacation my husband and I would like to take for our 15th anniversary.  I still don’t know if the stars will align for it to happen, but I can almost hear the ocean calling and feel the warm sand between my toes!

As we dream of palm trees and warm breezes, I pray that we all stay safe and warm during this last month of winter.  I love winter, but I think I’m about ready for spring!  And Easter candy.

The Numbers Don’t Lie

Just a short post tonight to share a small victory.  For the first time in over six years, I have dropped below 200 lbs.

scalesI think I was somewhere around 185 lbs when I got pregnant with my second child, and I cleared the 200-pound mark during that pregnancy.  And I haven’t seen a “1” in the hundreds place since then.  It’s a little hard to share these numbers with you, but I am so happy that they are steadily going down!

I know that our body weight fluctuates a few pounds throughout the year and at different points during each month, and that you should also watch BMI and other indicators to assess your healthy weight.  But jumping on the scale every morning before I eat breakfast and watching those numbers decrease (slowly, but surely!) gives me a nice little boost and lets me know my efforts are not in vain.

I am also proud to see these results on the scale since I haven’t exercised in over a month.  I still haven’t gotten back into my exercise routine since hurting my hip, but I have been diligent in counting my calories and planning my meals.  I hope to reboot my exercise routine next week…we’ll see how the old hip feels on Monday.

Hopefully I won’t see that “2” in the hundreds place for a long time…maybe even forever.  :)

Strong > Sexy

When I was in high school, I was very tall and fairly thin.  Strangers often asked me one of two questions:  1) Did I play basketball? or 2) Was I a model?  One woman at a supermarket even asked me if I was a Swedish model.  I don’t know what made her think this brown-eyed brown-haired girl was Swedish, but I was flattered nonetheless.  I never did play basketball, but I did play one year of high school softball.  I never aspired to be a model, though I was once invited to walk in a fashion show for evening wear, which I accepted.  I modeled three or four different dresses, and I enjoyed the experience.

As a young woman, I remember looking through Victoria’s Secret catalogs and wishing that I looked like the supermodels on the pages within.  Most women want to feel sexy and desirable.  (There’s a sermon here about vanity, but don’t worry, I’m not going to preach tonight.)  Thankfully the good Lord blessed me with a husband who has said I am sexy through all my different sizes and shapes, and would find me desirable in a potato sack.  But as I’ve gotten older, my idea of “sexy” has changed and matured.

athelta

I used to get excited about a new Victoria’s Secret catalog, but now…not so much.  Now I look forward to receiving my Athleta catalog.  (In case you’re not familiar with the brand, Athleta is Gap Inc’s line of athletic clothing.)  I look at the women – mostly my age – in the pages of an Athleta catalog, and I know I would choose to look like one of those models over a Victoria’s Secret model any day.  Some of the VS models look fit and toned, but most of them look thin and frail.  Athleta models look active and strong.

Sexy...And that’s what I want to be…strong.  I want to be strong so I can play with my kids now and with my grandkids later in life.  I want to have the energy to make it through my crazy-hectic schedule each day.  I want to remain active as I get older.

If nothing else, this “trick hip” I’ve developed (it pops in and out of place) has reminded me that I’m getting old.  I will be 40 in three and a half short years!  My body and my overall health are starting to require more maintenance.  The skinny body of my youth is long gone, and I’m perfectly okay with that.  It wasn’t a particularly healthy body.  I ate a Taco Bell bean burrito, a Snickers, and a Coke several times a week for lunch.  Not exactly the diet of champions.

...Strong

This goal of trying to get back in my wedding dress is not some attempt to reclaim my glory days, because I think my glory days are still ahead of me!  I want my body to be a tool for God’s service, and that motivates me to get in shape more than getting in my wedding dress.  He’s not done with me yet, and as long as He chooses to leave me on this earth, I want to be ready for whatever adventure He assigns me.  What better way to ready for action than with a strong and able body?

That’s way better than sexy in my book.  :)