Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Like we needed proof...

But, you need to see this show on the history channel. I watched it from 6-8am this morning. If you know me, you'll know it had to be good. :)

I usually am not a huge fan of history channel stuff that attempts to prove or disprove Biblical accounts. This is the best I've ever seen. The show follows an explorer/researcher through his pursuit to confirm that the Exodus of the Bible was a real, historical event. The evidence he found gave me chills. I have to say that seeing this kind of thing helps my faith grow. I'm recording it for Nick later today...

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

My Favorite Dinner

Chicken Stir Fry, originally uploaded by sakalomi.

Nick found out he is allergic to chicken. Yes, it's weird. How can you be allergic to chicken? But, he is. He also had to work late tonight. Guess what I made?

Okay, so it's not terribly photogenic, but this is my favorite dinner of all. I lived on this stuff while I was in college. I'd make a big 'ol pan of it and eat it for days. I don't know what it is about this stuff, but I'll tell ya how I make it.

Chicken Stir Fry
Serves 1-3

1lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-1 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 onion, chopped
3-4 different kinds of vegetables, chopped (I like carrots, celery, red pepper and zuchini)
2-3 cups chicken broth
2-3 tablespoons flour (rice flour works great for us gluten-free folk!)
Olive oil

In a deep skillet over medium heat, saute the onion in the olive oil until transparent. Add chicken, stir occasionally until cooked through. Add veggies and enough broth to not quite cover them. Put a lid on the pan and allow it to steam the veggies until al dente, or tender, whichever you like. Then, shake tablespoons of flour over the whole dish and stir gently. The flour will thicken the broth and give you almost a stew. Adjust the amount of flour and broth for the thickness you like. Add salt and pepper to taste, and a little marjoram or oregano is good too.

Serve over cooked brown rice with extra salt and pepper, if needed. (Don't be afraid to add salt for flavor - this is not as good if it's bland! :)

Voila! Healthy comfort food!

Friday, January 26, 2007


I've been doing a lot of reading about women lately. That kind of sounds strange, I guess, but it's true. Ever since having my children, I've been thinking a lot about why God created us women, and what it means to be a wife and mother.

I have read a few books about this. Captivating (Eldredge) is mostly about God's heart toward women. It talks, among other things, about how men show the strong, warrior side of God, and women can show the merciful, lifegiving side of God. Since we're created in His image (ok, long theological debate there, but go with me for a minute), He demonstrates aspects of His character through His creation. That resounds with me, especially when I look at my babies and think, "You did not even exist before." I had a part in giving life to a person. That is a massive thought.

I also recently read The Red Tent (Diamant). Before you go out and get it, let me warn you that it is very sexual in content. No worse than the standard paperback novel, I would guess. I don't read many of those, but definitely at least PG-13 rated in my book. This book is the imagined story of what Dinah, the daughter of Jacob and Leah in the Bible, could have been like. The author took her extensive knowledge of Jewish tradition and married it with the Biblical narrative. It makes for fascinating reading, even though you know it's just a story. Anyway, the main point of the book is exploring feminine relationships - sister to sister, mother to daughter, friend to friend, and the power that is there. The book treats the husband-wife relationship just as powerfully, but shows there is also something unique to female relationships that is needed in our lives.

Besides those books, I also have my own experiences. I've had one emergency c-section and one homebirth. I know women who have had both experiences, and there are many common things between us. I also lead a small group for women, which probably monthly makes me realize interesting things about how women live and make life work. I also have two sisters and a mother in town, and we communicate fairly openly between the four of us. And, I have two amazing little girls whom I love dearly.

I haven't yet found some answers I'm looking for. I think maybe that's because I'm not sure what the question is. What does it mean to be a woman? Maybe. Seems a little too broad (no pun intended!:). How does God use us as women? Yes, but still not quite right. Maybe it's about purpose and what I'm meant to demonstrate to the world around me. I'm just not sure.

One thing I do know - I'm enchanted by women who are doing it, whatever it is, well. And I'm deeply grieved by women who have been broken down by the world and can't do it at all.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Prayer Request

My friend Kim and her family are facing a major challenge. Please be praying for them!

Monday, January 22, 2007

We got our car!

So, once at least one of us practices enough to drive stick for the first time in our lives, I am no longer stuck at home every day. Wow. I can't even imagine it yet. I am so excited!

And...Audrey slept from 9pm to 5am last night. It was glorious.

Sunday, January 21, 2007


Money is an interesting teacher.

First, a little background. I've already written about how I grew up financially. We lived sale-to-sale on nothing and then like kings after one. This carried over to my first home on my own as an adult. At 22, I decided to quit delaying the inevitable, and went away to college. Due to my medical stuff and the fact that I treat it nutritionally, the private university that "required" all single students to live on campus and buy a dining room meal plan basically forced me to get my own apartment and move out of the dorms. This was great except for two things: I never made many close friends at school, and I did not have the money to live on my own.

I was in school as a music student full time (which all music students know means full time plus practice time. The schedule is insane.) The economy was not great at home so my parents' business hit a lull. I had to figure out how to even stay at school. I took I think 15 private piano students and charged them $15 per lesson. My own piano teacher who had most of her doctorate didn't make much more than that I don't think, and after asking what I charged, was furious with me for charging that much. Hey, people were willing to pay it and I gave them everything I had.

I barely scraped by each month on my piano income, and lived for the day that my school loans would be paid out to the school, and I could request and receive the refund check from the school for the amount I borrowed that went above the cost of tuition. Usually that check would come halfway through the semester. It was usually around $1500.

Having that much money all at once, finally, felt normal to me. I made up for lost time. I went tanning, bought new clothes, at one point bought a palm pilot. But most of all, I would go to Walmart. Every time I got one of those checks, I would spend at least $100-200 at Walmart. Now, I was basically setting up my own new household. I started with nothing, so I'm sure some of that "stuff" was necessary. However, I could have done without a whole lot of it. I remember hiking up the stairs to my third floor apartment, arms full of bags in triumph. I also remember the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach when I set all the bags on the folding table in my dining room and thought about how much I had spent and what it had bought. Why did I think I needed all those things? Nothing I bought was bad. It was kitchen utensils, things for my apartment like pillows for the couch, gardening stuff for the pots of flowers on my deck, etc. All of it useful and most of it was something about which I had said, "I wish I had a....(fill in the blank)." So, I had bought one. I also would buy a back-up for everything I used - from ziplock bags to hand soap. It felt better to me to never run out of anything.

Fast-forward to now. Nick and I are working through Dave Ramsey's teachings about debt and money management. We have made a promise to only spend cash that we have in hand. Recently, we realized that our groceries would not last until grocery day, so we stopped by the store to grab a few things. We had limited cash, but only needed to round out the fridge by a few things to make it through three days. We also needed diapers before more money would come. I went into the store...and spent almost every penny. No money for diapers. In the past, Nick would move bills around and smooth it over, even paying something late if we needed to, in order to accomodate my compulsion. This time, he gently suggested that I take back the extra things. Without even wrestling, I knew he was right. As I stood there feeling very conspicuous, watching the new guy at the register try to figure out how to return vegetables, I had a realization: It's all about provision.

That's what this is all about. A question...Will I have what I need? God, after this is gone and I have needs again, will You provide for me again? I fear the answer is no and therefore I hoard. My attempt at control. I can hold out for a while. I have my spare package of toilet paper. I can wait, even if You are late. Even if You forget I need money for food and deprive me for some time, I can provide for myself and my family out of my over-stocked pantry. It sounds so ridiculous, and yet "stuff" has been my security blanket. I have been through so many seasons when God's timing seemed to be off, that I stopped trusting and starting taking matters into my own hands. Instead of allowing my faith to grow and surrendering my sense of timing to His, I took provision on my own shoulders. Yuck.

I guess I post this because I doubt the problem is unique to me. I get such a sense of purpose from helping other people's lives to be better. The thought that I don't have to carry that weight anymore is incredibly freeing to me. If by chance you see yourself in this blog, maybe you can be freed also. I won't make this cheesy by drawing conclusions myself. You can do that. Just know that God is working in my heart through this process. I like stories like that. Thanks for reading mine.

Thursday, January 18, 2007


We always pray with the girls before we put them to bed. Hannah has several different funny responses when we're finished. Sometimes we say "Amen," and she says, "mmm-hmmm..." "Okay!" is another favorite. Tonight when we finished, Nick said Amen, and she said, "AMY!" Amy is my sister/her aunt. Amen...Amy...sound the same to me!

When I grow up

I really love my life. I feel the need to preface this post with that, because it could be taken to mean that I'm discontent or unhappy. That's really not it. I have a ton of interests. Since I only have one lifetime, I have chosen the things I most want to do with it. If I had more than one though? I would...

-Stay single or at least not have kids, and do full time worship ministry. I still may do this at some point, but it will have to be later in life, and somehow a 50 year old woman is just not as cool as a 20 year old woman when we're taking about band chicks. Ha!

-Become a naturopathic doctor and do for people what Dr. P does for us.

-Become some sort of scientist involving plants. Preferably one that could work all day in a massive greenhouse. I am fascinated by that kind of thing.

-Live in New York, Germany, California, Australia, and Israel. (As an adult. I lived in CA as a child. Doesn't count.)

-Own and operate an organic farm. Maybe we'll do this one yet!

-Be in politics. Run for office or go to Washington and work as an intern.

-Teach high school English. I LOVED my high school English teachers.

-Publish a book. Maybe I still will!

There are probably more. Maybe I'll think of them and add them later. The great thing when I think about this, is I really have chosen my favorite thing - being a mom - at least for the time being. That was always a non-negotiable in my childhood dreams.

What would you do?

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


toes, originally uploaded by sakalomi.

Aren't these some of the cutest feet you've ever seen?

A Confession

I HATE eating leftovers. I don't know what it is. Maybe it's my newfound enjoyment of cooking. Maybe it's the fact that I cook what I feel like eating, when I feel like eating it or I can't eat. Maybe it's my upbringing. I think my mother spent most of my childhood rebelling against the fact that she was made to eat leftovers growing up. Maybe it's the smell of unheated food. It makes me want to hurl. Maybe it's the poor job a microwave does of maintaining the original texture of the food.

I have no idea. But I hate them.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

If I could be...wasting my time...with you

A little throwback to my mountain/hippie/band chick days there for ya...some Phish lyrics.

This has been a pretty good week, I have to say. Among the fun things:

-Nick and I got to have a date tonight. We're making a new attempt at the weekly date night. So many couples we know swear by it. My sister Holly and brother in law Dave stayed with the girls, and a good time was had by all, I believe. Hannah says "Holly?" (Hawyee?)

-At tonight's date, Nick broke his week-long cleansing fast with Halibut, sweet potatoes and salad at Ranch Steakhouse. They're great - organic produce, wild-caught fish. A little pricey, but not bad when you split something like we did. After doing this fast, everything tastes wonderful. Your taste buds sing when you eat...a carrot. Nick, in whom I have always appreciated his sense of wonder anyway, is so much fun to watch because he is enjoying food so much. Plus, it doesn't make him sick anymore. He has tons of energy, needs only 5 hours of sleep or so, doesn't get headaches, he lost 10 POUNDS in one week - some fat, mostly water weight that his food allergies were keeping him from getting rid of... I wish everybody had the motivation and money to do this stuff Dr. P suggests. The world would simply be a better place.

-Took the girls and went grocery shopping today. There's a little co-op natural foods store that we go to every week. They all know us. The owners always offer Hannah a banana while we shop. We walk in, and there's a collective "HI!" from the staff. It's nice to be known. It's a little like CHEERS. Ha!

-We are, in fact, getting a second car this week. It's literally turquoise, but it's a jeep cherokee that my sister and brother in law are selling us. This is terrific news that I am so excited about. We did do the one-car thing for almost three months though, I think. It can be done. It's not fun, but it can be done. The downside of all this, is the check engine light came on in the jetta this evening. We also still have to get the damage fixed from the hit-and-run incident. If it's not one thing...

-The girls seem to be well again for the most part. Audrey is taking a little longer to get rid of the stuffy nose, but Hannah's croupy cough that sounded awful Friday morning never developed into anything at all. Yay!

-We still haven't dedicated Audrey at church. They do baby dedications every first weekend of the month. We went to Dillard's and found a beautiful christening gown for $25. Hannah has one from her shower, but we needed a stroller instead of an expensive gown when Audrey was born, therefore we've been waiting. Those are just something I wanted the girls to have for keepsakes, and we were able to get Audrey a pretty one. I was so happy about that!

-I got a copy of "The Devil Wears Prada" on I still haven't seen the movie, but decided I would read the book, just for fun. I'm not a huge fiction reader at all. Anyway, the book is silly and entertaining. "Frivolous," I think is the word the review used. It's fun to do something frivolous now and then.

Alright. I'm done cooking squash for Nick's breakfast (heehee-he has to eat squash for breakfast!), so I suppose I should go to bed. Goodnight all!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

I feel...

really good today. And so does Nick. And Dr P is my hero. Again. And Hannah no longer has croup. And she is currently eating sweet potatoes with a spoon because she is a big girl. And Audrey is 4 months old and sleeps 6-8 hours a night. And life is pretty good. Thought I would share.

Have a lovely Saturday.

Friday, January 12, 2007


join em, originally uploaded by sakalomi.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Seriously. You need to do this.

Got my first door-to-door organics delivery today. I'm impressed! First of all, they're super easy to work with, very friendly. And, all the produce was perfect. Much better than what I could find at Vitamin Cottage, both in selection and price. I'm excited. This week, we're trying chard and leeks. Haven't had those. Everything else is stuff I would normally buy, and if I didn't want to try chard and leeks, I could tell them and they would bring me something else! Super cool...

Oh, and if you're in the springs and you want to try it with me, we'll all save money if we can get 4 people together to have it delivered to the same location every week. Let me know if you're interested.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

today's headlines

*Nick starts his Dr. P diet today. It starts with a week-long fast with just water and this protein shake stuff.
*I need new print cartridges. Why are those so expensive?
*The outlet my computer is plugged into keeps turning off. There's nothing wrong with the circuit.
*My girls have fresh, new...colds. With coughs.
*I'm starting door-to-door organics delivery this week. It's gonna be fun...
*I have a new student starting this week. Yay!
*This is a boring post.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

This is scary...

Did you know the FDA has decided to allow ranchers and farmers to sell meat and milk from cloned animals? Unless you buy stuff labeled Organic (which has always and continues to have higher standards), you won't even know, because they aren't required to label it. Who knows how this will work? Just as an example, I've been doing lots of research on celiac disease, since Hannah has a gluten intolerance. It seems that celiac wouldn't even exist if we weren't constantly eating hybridized grains. Over the years, companies have produced grain that was stronger, better able to grow during droughts, resistent to disease and insects, etc. This has changed the genetic makeup of grain, and therefore it no longer matches what our body recognizes and digests. Bad news. Now they're doing the same thing with animals, except to a greater extent. What new problems will this cause, and what new drugs will they produce to "cure" it? Yuck. Read this for more info.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Today is my mom's birthday

So, all 11 of us (two parents, all five kids, two grandkids, and two sons in law), went to Cracker Barrel (her favorite) for dinner, and then to Mr. Biggs for bowling. It was really fun. I haven't been bowling in probably 10 years. My friends always wanted to go, and I always refused because bowling alleys are always such smokey, nasty places. I have a hard time having fun in that environment. Yes, I am a nerd. Anyway, with so many adults to pass babies to, it was easy and fun to have the girls there. And my brother Ryan, newly operated-upon knee and all, walked with Hannah all over the whole place. She had a blast.

My family has always made a huge deal out of birthdays, and I'm not even entirely sure what we did that made them so fun. The birthday person always got to choose a restaurant for lunch or dinner, and usually an activity. When we were young, we'd have massive parties with 10 or 12 little kids sometimes. I don't know how my mom did it. Yet. I'll be figuring it out shortly!

What do you do to make birthdays special?

Teaching Enthusiasm

I have a piano student who showed up for his lesson today, asking if he could learn something and maybe perform in his homeschool graduation ceremony in May. Apparently they have kids audition. He'd have to win the one available spot. No pressure. However, I thought almost immediately of this one piece by Jon Schmidt. (He has lots of free downloads on his site, if you're an interested pianist.) The coolest thing about the piece, is the section in which you use your forearm across all the black keys. With a little flair, "All Of Me" will be quite the performance piece. It's tricky - not something I can play very well right off, even after 20 years of experience. When I played a little of it for him though, his eyes lit up. This kid can be summed up in one word...mellow. Not easily excitable, very methodical. Trying to get him to give me a difference between forte and piano is like pulling teeth. But, with images dancing through his head of playing a fun piece like that in front of all those families, his enthusiasm may just carry him to "greatness." I hope it does.

Finding the thing that will make that "spark" is the hardest part. The spark does the work for me as a teacher, if I can only find it.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Do you ever watch mythbusters?

It's Nick's favorite. They just smashed two semi trucks into a compact car.

After further thought...

...about the "online relationships" thing, it seems that it is important to strike a delicate balance. On the one hand, revealing enough about yourself that people can know you and learn from you. On the other hand, maintaining the privacy of yourself and your family members. Kind of a no-brainer, I suppose, except that so few people do it well. I think especially my generation and younger have a tendency toward revealing too much. Myspace users are notorious for this. Word to the wise: do not gripe about somebody--anybody--online. There's no such thing as a secret. I suppose there are also people who only present the best parts of themselves online, and therefore people don't realize they also have problems, but really.... Everybody has things to work through. We all know that.

Sorry for the rambling. I suppose I'm trying to work out what's appropriate in my own blogs. :)

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Online Communities

My friend Kim posted this today about whether the relationships formed through online dialogue are "real." I think she makes some great points.

I have this to add: I am currently re-reading a book by John and Stasi Eldredge called "Captivating." Here's an excerpt I think applies:

"For many centuries women lived in close fellowship with other women - gathering at the well, down by the river,m preparing meals - many occasions for femininity to just sort of naturally pass from older women to younger women. Our intuition, our keen eye for relationship, our ability to grasp matters of the heart made any sort of formal "passage" into femininity unnecessary. Nowadays those opportuntities are nearly gone. When we meet as women, it tends to be in high-stress situations - corporate meetings with deadlines, ministry meetings with agendas, PTA meetings with concerns. The home is the only place left for this vital transmission of feminine identity."

I submit that the internet has become another place for this "vital transmission." We can learn how to cook, how to take care of children, how to manage our households, how to clean, how to love our husbands, how to love our God, and any number of other things from watching other women. When we blog, we give a little glimpse into our private lives that I think have become a little TOO private in our society. We need to know that others have struggles, and they need to know the same about us. When we have other capable, loving women we are learning from we are able to be confident in our methods.

This is a post for another day, but I also see it as proof that humans were created for relationship. If we don't have them, we FIND them. In whatever way necessary!

The Total Money Makeover

Growing up, we had kind of a strange financial situation. My dad owned his own business selling high-end accounting software. It was a very decent living, but it was...rather up and down. For example, he could possibly make a sale that would be $30,000. And then it would be four months before he would make anything else. This led to some spending habits. When we had money, we would feel like making up for lost time. When we didn't, we lived VERY cheaply. There was always the hope that a huge check would come in the mail, maybe any day. It may not, and things may stay hard that week, but there was the hope.

Now that I'm married, we have a weekly paycheck and no more. But it's steady. Because of how I grew up, that has always been weird.

My dad, of all people, "discovered" Dave Ramsey a few months ago. He now has Nick and my brother-in-law Dave listening to the radio show. This guy has provided more encouragement to us financially, than anything else we've done. And we've done quite a few things to figure out our finances.

Nick and I are currently reading Dave Ramsey's book, "The Total Money Makeover." We have actually never finished a book we started reading together. Last night Nick read to me for 1 1/2 hours. I was shocked! :) We feel like we know how to made good decisions that will help our situation finally. Confidence makes all the difference!

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Thrift store finds and classified ads

So, for Christmas we had wanted to get Hannah a toy kitchen. Went to Toys R Us...nothing under $100. You gotta be kidding me. We did other things instead, and she had a great Christmas. Then, tonight we hit Goodwill on the way home from our date, and what did we find? A kitchen. For $6. Seriously. Now, I have no idea if she'll actually play with it all that much, but for $6 I'll find out.

In addition, we got a two-door filing cabinet for $5, with which I will organize the never-ending pile of papers that always somehow ends up on my kitchen counter.

And, I put an ad in the local American Classifieds for the washer and dryer we don't need since our rental has them included, and the desk we don't have space for. Nifty, huh? Anybody need a washer and dryer? They don't match, but they work! :)

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

...two steps back

Somebody hit our car in the last 24 hours and didn't stop to tell us. Therefore, we have to pay the deductible to get it fixed because we're planning on selling it as soon as we can. Why in the world would somebody do that? It's hard sometimes to realize how many people lack integrity.


Okay, since I was up till 1:30 last night waiting for beans to cook, I figure I'll let you know that the hummus is delicious. If you've never tried it, you should. But you should make it yourself because I'm sure it tastes better. Here's the recipe I used, thanks to Gluten-Free Girl


--one can of chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans. I cooked my own, and used 2 cups)
--five tablespoons of tahini (this is basically pureed sesame seeds. Not as weird as you think)
--three tablespoons of olive oil
--the juice of two lemons (I used 4 tablespoons)
--two to four cloves of garlic (4 would make it VERY garlicky!)
--half a tablespoon of sea salt
--1/4 cup of reserved liquid from chickpeas (or water is fine)

Combine in blender or food processor.

Eat with chips or raw vegetables, or spread it on bread and have a sandwich with tomato and avocado. Yum!

Maybe I have just not paid attention, but until recently I didn't cook beans and didn't know if you cook beans the right way, they won't make you sick. Always soak them overnight and drain the water and put fresh water in for cooking, then skim away the froth that forms on top of the water as they cook. That's the gas, and you can get rid of most of it.

Monday, January 1, 2007

Christmas gifts

My parents have always spent a whole lot of money on Christmas. More than most people's families, anyway. My mom just loves to give gifts. It's expensive, but it sure is fun.

With that little disclaimer, I took my Christmas money and bought cooking stuff tonight. I feel like an official domesticated dork. I got a food processor (since the old one melted in the dishwasher), a new cutting board, and a colander. Therefore, I decided at 10:30 that I would make hummus in my new food processor, thus the reason I am still up at 12:30, waiting for garbanzo beans to cook. I am a nerd. I'm not even sure we'll like it. I've had it once, I think.

For Christmas at my parent's house, I got a real skillet. A real one, as opposed to the $40 12-piece set we've been using since we got married. If you consider yourself a poor cook and do not have good tools, you should try getting good tools. I'm telling you, I'm amazed at how different it is cooking in this little pan. Speaking of...I'm going to make myself an egg.

Recipies and such

This is an email Dr. P's office sent out at the beginning of December. The suggestions here are good year-round, plus there are some interesting recipies. I'm planning to try a couple of them this week.

Celebrate with Seasonal Tips & Guilt-Free Recipes

The winter and holiday season can seem like a five- or six-week buffet. But with some simple preparation, many of us can make it through the season without getting any heavier. So eat, drink, and be merry. But most of all, be healthy!

6 Tips for Success

1. Set realistic goals. Expecting to lose weight amongst all the celebrations is probably unrealistic and will make you feel guilty if you don't. Instead, plan to keep your weight and body fat percentage the same. Allow yourself an occasional indulgence, but don't go overboard. Even if you only maintain your present weight and/or body fat percentage, then that's still an accomplishment! Don't get discouraged and quit—just resolve to make a new goal for the new year and move ahead full steam!

2. Eat a low-glycemic-load diet. Eat foods that have a low glycemic load (GL)—such as vegetables, lean proteins, and fiber-rich carbs—which help you stay fuller longer, maintain a smaller rise in blood glucose levels after meals, prolong physical endurance, and keep insulin levels low to burn fat more efficiently and help you lose weight. Research suggests that consumption of high-GL foods (sweets, simple carbs, processed foods, sodas) may promote obesity by causing you to eat more. Other evidence suggests that following a diet comprised of primarily low-GL foods may be important in the treatment and prevention of chronic diseases. So stick to low-GL foods for high yields in health!

3. Eat frequent, small meals. It's good advice year round, but especially during party season. Don't go to a party or event on an empty stomach. The trick is to continue eating the recommended six small meals a day so you never get to the state of hunger that wears down your resistance. Before going out, have a small meal or healthy snack that includes protein, which satisfies hunger and helps you eat less.

4. Increase your activity. In addition to lifting your spirits, exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle program. Even if your eating habits stray (just a little), you can still stay on the track to better health by expanding your current exercise routine to burn those extra calories.

5. Plan your indulgences wisely. If you are going to give into temptation, do so with thought. Don't waste your calories on foods you don't really love. Scope out the scene, ID the food you can't live without and go for it (ideally a small portion). Following are some common buffet items that you can feel good about (next to your favorite indulgence):
Veggies (skip the dip) Sliced turkey & chicken
Smoked salmon Hummus and pita bread
Salsa Mixed greens (no dressing)
Bean salad Lean roasted lamb or beef
Fruit (berries, melons) Black-eyed peas
Fresh shellfish Nuts (not candied)
Sweet potatoes (no marshmallows) Green bean casserole (w/o fried onions)
Brown rice Lettuce wraps
Guacamole Chicken fajita meat & veggies

6. Relax and enjoy. Stress management is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Don't let the holidays run you down or stress you out. Simplify traditions, watch your commitments and don't get caught up in the rush. Make time to enjoy the season's sights, sounds, and flavors!

Creating Non-Guilty Taste Pleasures

Try these great recipes to make a part of your winter traditions or everyday meals. They'll also make a great addition to the gatherings you attend. Savor the flavor without the guilt!

Warm Mushroom Salad Serves 6

1 tbsp. olive oil 1/2 cup water
1/2 pound mushrooms 1 pinch salt
3 cloves minced garlic 1 pinch fresh ground pepper
1 tsp. each, basil & marjoram 1 Tbsp. fresh chopped parsley or fresh coriander (cilantro)
1 medium tomato, diced
3 Tbsp. lemon juice

Heat oil on low in a frying pan, then gently sauté the mushrooms for 2-3 minutes. Do not overcook.

Sprinkle in garlic and basil, then toss the mixture for a minute or two so that mushrooms are well coated. Add the tomato, lemon juice, water, salt, and pepper. Stir together and cook until the tomato softens. Remove from heat and let cool. Garnish with chopped herbs.

Spaghetti Squash Parmesan Serves 6-8
1 spaghetti squash, cut in half 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 cup chopped fresh tomato (substitute canned if necessary) 1 tsp. each, basil & oregano
1/3 cup sliced green onions Salt and pepper to taste
4 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese

Place the squash, cut side down, on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350o for about 30-45 minutes or until a knife pierces the skin without resistance. Allow the squash to cool and scoop out and discard the seeds. Using a fork, scrape the flesh into strands. In a Dutch oven or large pot, add tomatoes, green onions, Parmesan, lemon juice, basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Toss well to coat with sauce. Cook 1 minute over medium-high heat to heat through.

Pumpkin Custard Serves 4
2 eggs 1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 cup agave syrup 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 1/2 cups canned or pureed pumpkin 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp cinnamon 1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp ginger Butter

Butter a shallow, 1 1/2 quart baking dish. In a medium mixing bowl, mix eggs, syrup, and 1 1/2 cups pumpkin. Slowly mix in milk. In a separate medium bowl, mix spices. Add liquid mixture to spice mixture and pour into prepared baking dish. Set dish in a large baking pan. Add hot water to the large pan to a depth of about 1 inch. It should come about halfway up the side of the inner baking dish. Bake for about 50 minutes at 325° or until custard is set and a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool completely before serving; can be covered and refrigerated overnight.

Deviled Eggs Yields 12
6 large boiled eggs
3-4 Tbsp. roasted tomato hummus
Paprika (optional)

To boil eggs, place eggs in enough cold water to cover completely, bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Reduce heat to a lower MEDIUM BOIL and cook an additional 12 minutes. Promptly chill eggs so yolks stay bright yellow. Remove shells from eggs, and halve lengthwise with a knife. Carefully remove the yolks, and place in a medium bowl. Mash yolks with a fork and add tomato hummus. Very carefully spoon mixture back into the egg white halves. Garnish with a light sprinkling of paprika.

Fruit Salad Serves 6
1 large bag of frozen mangoes (or 3 fresh mangoes) Other fruit of choice
3 kiwis, sliced 1/2 cup chopped nuts (e.g., walnuts)
2 large oranges, divided into sections 1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 to 1 pint fresh berries (if available) Stevia or agave syrup (optional)

Defrost bag of frozen mangoes or cut up fresh mangoes and put in a pretty bowl for serving. Add kiwi fruits, oranges, and fresh berries. (Frozen berries will lose their shape and are not advised. Pomegranate berries add beautiful color and are a healthy addition.) You may add any other acceptable fruit of choice. Top with chopped nuts yogurt. Gently stir to mix. If the taste it too tart, add a sprinkle of stevia or mix in some agave syrup.

Veggie Egg Wrap Serves 6
1 small onion, chopped 6 eggs
2 Tsp. olive oil 1/2 cup grated part skim mozzarella
3/4 cup leftover veggies of choice (mushrooms, spinach, zucchini, bell peppers) 6 low carb tortillas

Sauté onion in 1 tsp. olive oil, stirring until softened. Add veggies and mix until warm. Remove from pan. Add 1 tsp. more olive oil and scramble eggs with cheese until almost done. Stir in veggies and continue to cook until done. Fill tortillas with egg scramble and serve immediately.

Green Beans Almondine Serves 4
10 oz. pkg frozen French style green beans 1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, diced 1/3 cup sliced almonds

Steam green beans for about 10-15 minutes, or until softened. In a separate pan, sauté onion in olive oil. When onion is softened, add almonds and continue to sauté until just beginning to brown slightly. Add cooked green beans and stir to mix well. Serve immediately.

Sweet Potato Delight Serves 8
1 large sweet potato or yam (peeled and cut into small pieces) 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 small Butternut squash (peeled and cut into small pieces) Lowfat milk, soy milk or almond milk
1 tsp. cinnamon Sliced almonds & nutmeg for garnish
1/2 tsp. ginger

Steam sweet potato or yam and butternut squash together until soft. Blend in a food processor (a blender will not do the job) with spices. While processing, slowly add enough milk to make the consistency slightly looser than mashed potatoes. Place the mixture in an ovenproof dish, about 1 1/2 Qt. (You can make ahead up to this point and store in refrigerator until ready to bake and eat.) Sprinkle nutmeg and sliced almonds on top as a garnish and bake at 350o for about 15 minutes.

Frittata Serves 6
1 medium onion, diced Several fresh basil leaves (or 1 tsp. dried)
1 Tbsp. olive oil 3 Tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
1/2 red bell pepper, diced 1 avocado, sliced in wedges
1 cup mushrooms, diced Cherry tomatoes, halved
8 eggs

Preheat broiler. Sauté onion in olive oil in a 12-inch ovenproof nonstick skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until softened. Add red bell pepper and mushrooms and continue to sauté. In a medium bowl, mix eggs with basil. When vegetables are nicely acquainted, pour egg mixture into skillet and cook, lifting up cooked egg around edge using a spatula to let as much raw egg as possible flow underneath, until edge is set, about 2 minutes (top and center will still be very loose). Sprinkle parmesan cheese evenly over top. Broil frittata about 6 inches from heat until set, slightly puffed, and golden, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Cool frittata 5 minutes, then loosen edge with a clean spatula and slide onto a large plate. Garnish with wedges of avocado and cherry tomatoes cut in half. Cut into wedges.

Breakfast with Michelle

my new plant, originally uploaded by sakalomi.

Nick's sister Michelle drove down from Boulder to see us today. She brought me a plant. Isn't it pretty? She and Nick watched the Nebraska game. We had eggs, turkey sausage, gluten free cranberry orange muffins, grapefruit and orange juice. The girls played and made us laugh.

After the girls went to take a nap, we really got to talk some. She's 40 years old, never been married, always wanted to be. She has a job for a massive company that is a continual struggle. Boulder is a ridiculously expensive city to live in. She's planning a major life change - moving back to Nebraska, finding a new job, and trying to adopt a child. This is the first we had heard of it. She really has nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Several thoughts cross my mind. First, what an adventure to dream about! I have found you can handle just about anything if you have hope. If there are dreams of a better day, a possibility for happiness and joy down the road, dark places aren't so bad. Second, how blessed I am! My life is full of people to love and people who love me. I always had big dreams of doing something grand with my life. I dreamed of being famous, of changing the world. Maybe I still will, who knows? For right now, I'm pretty grateful for my husband who is gentle and kind, and my girls who make my life so full of joy.

Finances can be hard, relationships can be tricky, health can be somewhat elusive, and all of my dreams have yet to come true. But, the bottom line is we're blessed!