Healthy Supplements!

Here is the link (below) to my latest published article. This one is full of healthy over the counter supplements and natural remedies. My husband and I take just about every one of them.

Crustless Quiche Cups to the Rescue!

Here is a fool-proof recipe for crustless quiche cups. These are great to have on hand for grab and go breakfasts or snacks.

This is such a simple recipe, I’m almost embarrassed to talk about it. Besides this, all one has to do is google, “Basic Quiche Recipe” to find something similar. I am sharing this here because if you are like me, you’re a fan of the following three things:

  1. Easy recipes
  2. Re-purposing leftovers.
  3. Healthy & Delicious grab & go food

I started making these every other Sunday because Charlie, my husband, is a body-builder and a sugar addict. Before and after the gym, he needs healthy snacks to feed his body. These are packed full of protein and vitamins and the bonus for me is that he loves them. Typically I make a dozen regular sized muffins and six extra large ones. Out of the dozen, I usually take four or five to my father. I’m trying to get him OFF those horrible, processed protein milkshakes and onto something better for him.

The basic recipe for a dozen cups is simply six eggs and a half a cup of heavy cream whisked together and poured over anything your heart desires! The possibilities are endless. Seriously. The photo below is from four weeks ago. These were filled with leftover rotisserie chicken that I shredded, broccoli, bacon, red bell pepper & onion, plus one can (drained) of Mexican style diced tomatoes and some cheddar cheese. I seasoned them with cilantro lime seasoning, some fresh cilantro, salt, pepper and a little bit of cumin. They came out smokey with just a hint of spice and they received rave reviews.

img_6200

img_6237

As you can see in the photo above, I am very generous when I fill the cups. This last time, I added even more filling than you see. In order not to make a huge mess, I always pour my egg/cream mixture into a measuring cup or other vessel with a spout. If your vegetable/meat/cheese combo seems too dense, just poke the backside of a knife around a bit and pour in little batches. Once the cups are full, wrap the pan on the counter gently to be sure the mixture gets to the bottom. Often, I use a fork to poke around to make sure I’ve gotten the egg evenly incorporated. I do not mix the eggs and cream with the veggies and then pour because it would come out in plops. I don’t like plops. Plops are messy. However, I do like to say the word, “PLOP”. Say it with me…

Plop! (you’re smiling, I can see it.”)

When they come out of the oven, I let them sit in the pan for about five minutes; then I cover them with a cooling rack and flip it upside down so the quiche fall out. They’re upside down at that point, so I turn them over and let them cool to room temperature. These were the Mexi-style ones I made weeks ago.

img_6215

Below are the muffins I made this past Sunday. These were filled with freshly sauteed onions & red peppers and freshly fried bacon crumbles. (We like onions & peppers, so I usually have to make them fresh for my quiches because we never have left-overs of them.) I always have broccoli on hand, so I also added chopped cooked broccoli, cheddar cheese & chives. Per usual, once the cups were filled, I added more cheese, bacon and chives to the tops. (I like pretty food!)

img_6432

img_6430


Crustless Quiche Cups

Ingredients: (Makes 12 regular-sized cups)

For the Egg Mixture:
6 eggs scrambled
½ c. cream
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
Optional: Dash of hot sauce

For the filling:
2 ½ cups cooked chopped broccoli florets
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 medium onion, diced
5 strips of bacon, fried (reserve the bacon fat)
1 tablespoon butter (USE REAL BUTTER)
2 cups shredded cheese (whatever you like, I used cheddar)
1 bunch chives, chopped (you can use the dry variety if you need to)
½ teaspoon Lawry’s Seasoned salt
½ teaspoon fresh cracked pepper.

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Whisk together all of the ingredients for the egg mixture. Set aside while you work on the filling.

Fry the bacon until crisp, then remove it to a paper towel. Do not drain the skillet.

Sauté the onion and red bell pepper in the bacon grease. IF you are scared of bacon fat, you can clean out the pan and use 2 Tablespoons of olive oil or butter instead. I added 1 Tablespoon of butter to my bacon fat because I’m craaaaaazy about butter! Once the onions and peppers are just barely translucent, turn off the heat and set the pan aside to cool.

Once cooled, crumble the bacon (reserve 1/4th of it for topping) and add it to the pan along with the cheddar cheese (reserve a little for topping), broccoli, chives (reserve a little for topping), and seasonings. Combine gently using a spatula.

Spoon the mixture evenly into prepared non-stick muffin tins. (I spray mine even though they are non-stick.)

Pour the egg/cream mixture evenly into each cup.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.

Note: Ovens vary, so start checking at 20 minutes.

Once they have cooled, I put them in pairs inside sandwich-sized zip-locked bags. From here they go into the refrigerator. If I am going to freeze them, I wrap each one in plastic wrap and then put them all in a large zip lock bag or container.

When we serve these, we usually heat them in the microwave about 30 -40 seconds, then top with hot sauce or sour cream, salsa, and/or fresh herbs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cleanse Update, Day 4

 

Guilty!

Confessing my sins.

Yesterday was a mixed bag of up and downs. For the most part I did very well. The shakes went down well, I took my walk, I even took a long soak. I planned every single detail of what I would do in the evening. YET…..

I cannot tell a lie. Despite all of my efforts, I cheated. (Argh!) Last night we had decided to do steaks, fingerlings and steamed broccoli for dinner. I was doing just fine until I got in the kitchen. All of the sudden I felt like I’d literally been struck in the heart with a horrible feeling…deep sadness mixed with a little anger. It felt like a vice grip on my heart. I wanted to scream. I wanted to cry. I felt like someone had just hurt my feelings in the cruelest possible way.

I tried everything. I stopped what I was doing and prayed for strength. I ate a salad. I went out for a short walk. I sat down and tried to be rational about where the feeling was coming from. I even tried to write about it. Nothing came.

When my hubs came in from walking the dog, he took one look at me and he knew what I was contemplating. At first he said he was not going to say a word because whatever words he chose would be wrong. Then he reminded me that I had been working the plan like a pro and that the only person imposing the no wine rule was me. (It isn’t part of the actual “plan” I am on- I threw it in.) I kept telling him I refused to fail. Yet there I sat in misery. He told me it isn’t wrong for me to indulge one day a week. I know that. Two glasses of wine is a far cry from falling down drunk over consumption. Still, in my heart I felt a total failure.

My brain urged me to go immediately to the kitchen and stuff my face with dinner. My stubbornness refused. “I. Don’t. Wanna.”

So there ya have it. I had one glass of white wine. I had one glass of red wine. Then, I had dinner and it was delicious.

I could spend the day feeling like crap because I cheated (I do feel crappy about it) or I can do something constructive. Today I am right back on the plan and because I indulged last night, I will accompany the hubs to the gym today to do my penance. Oh, how I hate the gym!

I remain determined to stay the course and so I will push forward and not allow last night to fester into more failure. ❤️

Progress, not perfection, right?

 

 

Cleanse Day 3, Update

I am very encouraged by yesterday’s efforts. I knew it would be hard having to work in the morning and then cook dinner for a huge crowd. As I reported in yesterday’s update, I did experience the usual, “Why am I doing this? …

take the step

Cocktail consumer Alexis would fall asleep shortly before 9:00 PM; sleep until 11:00 PM; wake up to go upstairs to bed; then sleep until 2:30 or 3:00 AM. From there it would be a failed battle to stay off the Internet until around 5:30 AM, when sleep would be intermittent at best. The whole shebang would end at 7:00 AM when it was time to rise to meet the day.

This morning I actually slept until almost 8:00 AM, which is highly unusual for me. I can only attribute it to the fact that I am continuing to execute my cleanse plan. I was awakened again about four or five times, needing to pop into the ladies room, but each time, I was able to fall right back to sleep with very little effort. When my hubs came to awaken me this morning, I was in total shock by what time it was.

I am very encouraged by yesterday’s efforts. I knew it would be hard having to work in the morning and then cook dinner for a huge crowd. As I reported in yesterday’s update, I did experience the usual, “Why am I doing this? Why can’t I just go home and have one or two drinks to relax? I don’t have to tell anyone.” Of course, the other side of my brain knew better.

Shortly before we started breaking down the kitchen to clean, I forced myself to eat dinner. It wasn’t easy because I was hot and defiant Alexis didn’t want to! However, I knew that if I didn’t, the chances of my going home hungry and pouring myself a cocktail stood at about 98%. I thought it through all the way to how I would feel waking up this morning knowing I couldn’t follow this plan for even two straight days. (Argh! To be honest it pissed me off. It angers me that I’ve gotten into this habit so much that it’s a chore to break.)

Two pieces of fish, a pile of rice pilaf and some Italian green beans later, I was satisfied. On the way home I thought about the things I wanted to do that would keep my mind, body and soul engaged in non-alcoholic activities. Tops on the list was taking my new dog, Sam, on a long walk and then settling in to read some new blogs.  Check. Check. I did both.

As a treat, I pulled out some organic, all natural yogurt and I giggled my head off when my husband tasted it and declared mightily, “OH MY GAWD, that tastes like ASS! It’s ASS with a side of sour fruit!” He’s a sweets person. I am not. I thought it was great! It’s a brand called, “siggi’s”. I highly recommend it! (siggisdairy.com)

Today on my way home from visiting my parents, I will stop at the health food store and pick up some more yogurt and some more super cool bath stuff. Those who know me already know that Thursday visits with my parents can spell disaster in the emotional department, so believe me, I must have my armor ready.

I will need extra prayers for strength for the time just prior to and right when I get home today. Although I have a plan, a hard visit with “The Units” (my sister and I nicknamed our parents this eons ago) can throw a wrench into almost anything.

I took my Day 3 selfie this morning and thought I looked better yesterday. Of course, I hate nearly every photo taken of me, so there’s that. First thing this morning when I looked in the mirror I could see a trace of “Less Puffy Me” and I smiled.

Day 3 Summary: I’m happy. I’m Blessed. I feel good, but I’ve still got one eye open for the demon temptation who wants to take me down.

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. James 1: 2-3

Tonight’s menu will be Mahi-Mahi, sauteed apsaragus and left over coconut rice mixed with whatever I decide to mix it with. My thoughtful husband went out this morning and rented the latest “Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles” movie, so we’ll eat dinner and then curl up and watch it together.

Prayers up. Over and Out until tomorrow. ❤

Cleanse Day 2, Update

The magic number is six. Six times last night my sleep was interrupted because I had to get up to use the rest room. You would think I would be upset about this. Instead, it’s the exact opposite. It makes me happy.

image

The magic number is six. Six times last night my sleep was interrupted because I had to get up to use the rest room. You would think I would be upset about this. Instead, it’s the exact opposite. It makes me happy.

This is of course, the by-product of the first day of the two-week cleanse. It means to me that my liver is working on cleansing the rest of the body and it’s a nice sign that things are on the right track.

Even though my sleep was interrupted quite a bit, this morning I am feeling more rested than yesterday morning. Better than this, I feel more determined than ever to carry on. I know it’s just the second day, but I choose to take the good feelings as they come. BTW,  I took my “Day 2 selfie” and I can all ready see a very slight difference. (I’ll post those in two weeks.) Joy, Joy, Joy!

Yesterday I planned what to make for dinner well before I got home. I planned what I would do to reward myself for not having a cocktail and for eating a sensible dinner. On the way home from work we stopped at an organic market and I bought myself some bath salts. Last night when dinner was finished, I excused myself to go and take a well-deserved, relaxing, glorious soak. I have always been a bath girl, so treating myself to something special was just the little treat I needed. Once I had my PJ’s on, the feeling that I was missing out on a glass of wine just wasn’t there.

image

I told Charlie this morning that I wished I’d bought more than one variety of bath salts, so I would have them tonight when I get home. Tonight will be one of the hardest nights to get through.

Why?

On Wednesday nights, my husband and I work together to produce a Fellowship meal for about 100-150 people who are members of the church where I work part-time. Every week we plan the menu, shop for the food, prepare the meal and drinks, help to serve it and help to clear it away when it’s over. It is an arduous task but I love it, which is why we do it.

Each week I get to work shortly after nine am and do my regular work. (I do the finances of the church.) At 1:15, I change clothes and head into the kitchen where we have until 5:00 to prepare the meal and set up for dinner service. We start serving at promptly 5:15. Like I said, it is NOT an easy job by any means. The pay-off for me is seeing people enjoy something I’ve made. It’s in knowing I worked very hard in the service of others and knowing I’ve given it all of me…and I do. My husband and I joke that, “It is ALWAYS Wednesday!” in our lives. Some weeks it seems to be so.

At some point every single Wednesday between the hours of 5:00 and 6:30 my brain starts to tell me I’ve earned the right to go home, put my feet up and have a few cocktails and usually, this is exactly what I do. (The last thing in the world I want to do is go home and eat dinner after I’ve just spent hours in the kitchen.)

Tonight will be a challenge and I admit to feeling a wee tinge of anxiety. The plan, however, is to force myself to eat dinner before leaving church so I will be full and will not want anything else. Writing this blog helps me to stay accountable too, because I hate to fail and I hate to lie. I don’t want to have to come back here and report that I cheated. I refuse!

Back to last night: For dinner this week, we decided to try to consume mostly fish and fresh vegetables. Last night’s fare was salmon that we picked up on the way home, coconut rice, mango salsa and freshly steamed broccoli.

image
My plate last night.

 

I was shocked that I enjoyed the rice because I am not a fan of coconut, but it was lovely. (Recipe is below).

I will check back tomorrow to report on how I did this evening. Pray for me.

 

 

 


Coconut Rice

image
This was Charlie’s plate last night. Mine is above. I’m not that fancy.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups Jasmine Rice

1 1/2 cups Coconut Water

1 cup unsweetened Coconut Milk

1/2 Teaspoon Salt (I used a little more)

3/4 Teaspoon White pepper

Directions:

Rinse and drain the rice in cold water. Place in a saucepan with the coconut water, coconut milk, and salt & pepper. Place the pot over high heat and, bring the liquid to a boil. Stir and reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting and cover the pot tightly with the lid. Continue cooking for 15 minutes.

Ideas:

When I make this again, I will tweak it and add herbs and zest depending on what I am making. Last night I was wishing I’d put some lime zest in it, but it was still really light and delicious!

 

 

 

Best Laid Plans

    “Much of the stress that people feel doesn’t come from having too much to do. It comes from not finishing what they’ve started.” -David Allen
    The plan for this past weekend was to finally get our house back in good order and cleaned after the past three months of traveling back and forth to Chicago. The last trip we made there, we brought back furniture and other items that my beloved mother-in-law wanted us to have. Said items have been sitting in the middle of our family room, with no place to go, for weeks. It’s amazing to me that I’ve let them sit there this long because I am not a person who lives well with clutter. In fact, clutter tends to make me crazier than I usually am and that is never a good thing.
    So, the plan was to re-organize and clean in order that today I could begin my two-week cleanse on a good note.
    It didn’t happen.
    Last week I was wandering around on Facebook when a friend posted the picture of a dog she’d just encountered. She was asking that someone adopt the little guy because he was far too cute to be in doggie jail. His story was that his owner died and he was placed in a shelter and was on death row because of his age. (He is 7.) Our local rescue went and got him and he was up for adoption.

14462729_10157457635885573_596834189456653577_n
This is Sam

    It was more his story that got to me than his cute face. This is because I had a beloved dog, Jack, who came to me in exactly the same manner. We got Jack at age 5 and just last year at the ripe old age of 16, we finally had to let him go. It was devastating. Jack had been my constant companion all those years. In fact, he had even gone to the office with me daily. He was little, but he was fearless and he left a huge hole in our hearts when we had to let him go.
    I took one look at Sam, read his story and I knew he was waiting for us to come and get him. Without ever meeting him in person, we immediately did the paperwork and turned it in within 24 hours.

1655_107595240572_1161_n
Jack, the office dog

Friday evening we’d just settled in for the night. The pizza was in the oven and we were sipping wine and chatting about the day when the phone rang. We’d been approved and when would we like to come and pick Sam up! OMG! OMG! I was unprepared for being as excited as I was. When I hung up the phone I jumped around the house like an adolescent who was just told she was going to Disneyland! Then of course, I made my husband swear that we would get up early and get the house in order! I was so excited and nervous, I barely closed my eyes all night.

Saturday morning came and although we did get a lot of furniture moved upstairs, we simply did not have time enough (or energy) to do a full re-organize or clean! We were off to pick up our new baby, Sam.

14560186_10157461637110573_9006379250146235848_o
This is what Sam really looks like!

Two days into having the little guy, my heart is full. It’s such an interesting realization of how much I truly missed having a little one in the house. He walked in like he owned the place, exactly as Jack did so many years ago. I had no idea how much I loved Jack until this little being came onto the scene. There are so many similarities between the two. Even our other dog, Chinah, who is 14, got excited about having another little brother. What a Blessing!

So how does this all work into the 2 week cleanse I was supposed to start today? First off, the protein shake mix I re-ordered from Usana did not arrive on Friday as expected. Instead, I am told it will be arriving tomorrow. (Built in excuse not to start today #1) Second, the house is still a complete wreck. (Lame excuse #2) I got a new puppy dog. (Okay, that doesn’t even pass as an excuse, does it?)

On the way to work this morning I did take a photo of my face because I said I was going to photograph  my face every day in order to note any differences. Good grief do I look bad! Granted, I have not slept a full night in about a week or more. All I can see is puffy, tired eyes and wrinkles everywhere. Wrinkles. Humph. My skin is dry and dehydrated and I look old and just generally horrible. I am not just being overly critical. Do I have the guts to post said photo? Oh double hell to the double no. I did take a bathroom selfie when I got to the office this morning. I MIGHT post that one. I will save the close up head shots until the end of two weeks and then I will post them all together.

Now I have a few built in excuses not to start and I have one very ugly real reason not to give into stupid excuses. This morning for breakfast I had half an avocado mixed with sliced baby cucumbers, baby heirloom tomatoes, and red onion marinated in balsamic vinegar & olive oil and a side of about two tablespoons of cottage cheese. For lunch I made a salad of romaine lettuce, organic carrots and celery and a small avocado. My feeling is that I can at least eat healthy until the shake mixes come, right? Tonight we had all ready planned Italian for dinner (hubby’s choice). I will consider today a win if I can have dinner early -sans the wine that usually goes with it. Otherwise, I will wake up tomorrow and begin again. How I truly will hate that, but it is what it is.

Here are some positives I can take away from all of this:

  1. Perhaps I am meant to break out of the psychosis that tells me I can only begin new things on Mondays. Maybe I am supposed to begin this project on a Wednesday, which is typically the hardest day of the week for me.
  2. In keeping with that line of thought, maybe my house doesn’t have to be perfect in order for me to start a new project.
  3. I think Sam was sent to me by Jack. This has nothing to do with my project -unless I mention that Sam really likes to walk. I need exercise and walking seems doable.
  4. The Lord works in truly mysterious ways and I am grateful no matter what.

I woke up feeling happy and Blessed (because of Sam), but also anxious about not having the tools to start my cleanse today. My opening quote about being stressed about not finishing something one has started is so true. Of course, I haven’t really started yet, have I? Argh.

image

 

image

 

 

Reflection Imperfection.

Isn’t it funny that sometimes when a person is all ready feeling low, self punishment can come into play? We think we are comforting ourselves, but in reality, we are doing the opposite. So I will just own the fact that …

yellowsprite2

As I stated yesterday, I wasn’t in a very good frame of mind for a Monday. (I usually love a Monday–clean slate and all that good stuff–but not yesterday.) This morning again, I wasn’t feeling my best self, but I DID force myself to get in the kitchen and make my two shakes for the day. Both of them today are plant-based protein from Usana.com. I added a couple of strawberries, a tiny bit of banana, a couple of raspberries, some aloe juice & a dash (just a dash) of honey. I have to say they are not the best tasting things on the planet but they do fill me up. Usually after the first day, I adjust nicely and best of all, any and all cravings go away. The other benefit is that this stuff is so expensive, I wouldn’t dream of cheating!

Still even having accomplished this small task, I felt a bit sad. Of course, I know why. For whatever reason I am NOT doing the things I know I need to do in order to feel emotionally balanced. Typically, the first thing I need to do in the morning is sit quietly to write in my prayer journal. Today I sat right next to it; I stared at it; I contemplated it; but I didn’t write in it. Instead, I ran off to figure out what to wear today.

I arrived at work this morning and as I was running around opening the office, turning off the alarms, turning on the phones, etc. I stopped at the front desk where I found a small piece of white paper.  I picked it up prepared to throw it in the garbage, but when I turned it over I discovered the following:

A Prayer For Today:

This is the beginning of a new day. God has given me this day to use as I will. I can waste it or use it for good, but what I do today is important because I am exchanging a DAY of my life for it. When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever, leaving in its place something that I have traded for it. I want it to be gain and not loss; good and not evil; success and not failure, in order that I shall not regret the price I have paid for it.

Amen

I stood there reading it knowing darned well this was a not-so-subtle message from above. This is relevant to me because yesterday afternoon as I sat there on the couch, I felt depressed, defeated, drained and sad. Of course I did. I didn’t do a thing to improve my mood. In fact, I did the exact opposite and what for? Self sabotage? Self punishment?

Isn’t it funny that sometimes when a person is all ready feeling low, self punishment can come into play? We think we are comforting ourselves, but in reality, we are doing the polar opposite. So I will just own the fact that on the way home yesterday we stopped at McDonald’s and ate Mcdoubles and french fries. (I feel so dirty saying this!) This is almost unimaginable to me. We NEVER eat fast food; and I mean not EVER. Who’s idea was it? Mine.

Message received loud and clear, God. I will not exchange another day of my life for a minute’s worth of unhealthy behavior. I will use this day for good. I will succeed and I will not regret the price I paid for it.

Amen. Amen. Amen. (and thank You!)

More tomorrow.

take-the-step

I don’t feel like it.

How is it possible to wake up on a Monday and feel defeated even before I’ve had breakfast? I had a perfectly lovely day yesterday and I went to bed feeling grateful and happy.

tiredanimals

How is it possible to wake up on a Monday and feel defeated even before I’ve had breakfast? I had a perfectly lovely day yesterday and I went to bed feeling grateful and happy.

(I had slated today to begin my protein shake program again since the last time I did it I was interrupted by a trip to Chicago.)

Yet, this morning when Charlie asked me if I was ready for my shake, I told him no. I don’t feel like it today.

I don’t feel like it today?

Translation: I don’t feel like having any rules today. I don’t feel like being restricted. I don’t wanna. I.DO.NOT.WANT.TO!

Looks like yours truly needs a really big attitude adjustment or perhaps just a fresh pair of soul glasses. How is it that just a few weeks ago I was excited to begin this program and not only that, I was having success with it. Today I woke up and said, “No. Not today. Nope.”

I’m tired, for one thing, and for another, I failed to do my preparation work. For me that means that I did not take the time over the weekend to feed my spirit with what it needed. I didn’t take the time to write in my journal. Although I always pray, I did not spend enough time actually feeling my prayers. I didn’t plan for today. I didn’t even think about today. I just went on my merry way letting the spirit blow me around wherever it wanted to.

Did I mention I’m tired?

And so thankfully, tomorrow is another day. This evening I will revisit my reasons for wanting to do the 2 weeks of protein shakes. I will again look at the photos of my pudgy face and squinting eyes and I will reaffirm that I want this face back again.

1477612_10156338116340573_258924886173400322_n

Yes, I know it’s been a while but this girl…she’s still in there. Is it wrong to miss my eyelids?  Methinks not. Last time I did this, after just four days I saw signs of this girl coming back to life…

Just so you know, it’s not just the face I would like again, it’s the confidence and the health benefits I want too. I’d like to be able to look in the mirror again and love the face looking at me. I don’t feel that way right now. I don’t feel I even know the person in that mirror.

I just need to set my sites and start again….AGAIN.

And so I will. (I end a lot of stuff like this lately! ha ha)

 

11133714_340944409435395_3836395117751034917_n

 

Day 5 Progress Report. God Sees.

As I reflect back on the week, I am reminded of what I have always known: when I suit up and show up and do the work with God in front, miracles happen. God isn’t just for the big stuff, He’s here for us for all things and He responds in all sorts of wonderful ways.

i-can-do-it

Amazing grace, I made it to Friday! Wednesday and Thursday were really hard days for me, but I had armed myself with my “plan-ahead” weapons, so I made it!

To recap: Monday I began a two-week jump-start project which I am calling, “return-to-me”. For two weeks I am working on rehabbing my tired body, mind and spirit. For me this means more prayer, replacing breakfast and lunch with protein shakes, eating a healthy dinner, limiting alcohol and writing (because it feeds my spirit.)

I knew Wednesday and Thursday would be  trigger days for me because they are the most stressful of each week. Wednesdays my hubs and I work until 1:00 PM and then we head into the kitchen of a local church, where we create, serve and clean up after their Fellowship Meal. Usually this meal serves about 100 people, but sometimes it can rise to 150. This week we served pork tenderloin.

So you get the idea, it’s laborious, but glorious. I always go home smiling when the people are full and they’ve loved the meal. (In case you are curious, the sides were wild rice and a veggie medley of carrots, broccoli and cauliflower with a three bean salad or coleslaw plus cake and brownies for dessert.) We aren’t playin’!

My Thursday afternoons from 1 until 4:30 are spent with my aging parents. While I am so grateful both of my parents are still here on earth for me to visit, it can be hard at times. (This is a story for another blog, though.) I usually arrive home emotionally drained in some form or fashion.

The problem for me on both of these days is that we have fallen into the habit of evening cocktails on these nights. Everything is so stressful, it’s a nice feeling to get home, change clothes, flop in our favorite chairs and sip on whatever it is that we’ve decided upon for that night-sometimes it’s wine; sometimes it’s vodka; sometimes other things. The bottom line is, this is what we’ve done for years, so it’s a habit that we equate with “reward”.

I knew this would be an issue at the beginning of the week so I intentionally prepared for it. Wednesday morning I woke to my usual prayers for strength and perseverance, then I wrote in my prayer journal. I planned to eat a meal at church just before going home so I would be full. Even with all of this, the drive home a battle raged inside my mind.

“Just one won’t hurt.”, said my ego.

“You made a commitment! And you’ve prayed to God, too! If you do this, it’s like you are quitting on God, ya know. You have to give Him a chance to work.”, said my heart.

“Drat! Blasted Heart! But still, you don’t have to do this all at once, ya know.”, said Ego.

“If not now, when? I’ve prayed over this and over it. God will help me fight you when I get home, now shut up.”, said Heart.

“Still”, Heart thought silently, “What if I fail yet again? Why can’t I just do this?”.

When we arrived home, I went straight upstairs opting for a long, hot bath, which has always been a source of comfort. While I was in there I prayed again for strength and I thought about just what I was asking for and why. (Aren’t I worthy of having the life I was intended to have? I am. It’s up to me to do the work in order to get back there. I’ve let things go for TOO long-taking care of everyone else. It’s time for ME. If not now, WHEN?)

So I went downstairs, had a banana, flopped on the couch and turned on a comedy show. Later, I went to bed happily thanking God for seeing me through the day.

Last night, having battled through Wednesday night, I knew what to expect out of that darned ego-talk. Even though I was prepared the same as the night before and EVEN though I knew Friday was slated to be “cheat night”, as far as dinner and cocktails are concerned, it was still THE hardest time I’ve had. I went to my parents per usual, then stopped at the grocery on the way home (my happy place) in order to select something I’d like to cook for dinner. (This is my way of tweaking the usual routine.) I even went so far as to go to a market I do not frequent. I selected some nice filets, fresh asparagus and I planned on serving the last of the fresh squash I’d made nights before. I even bought two tiny cheesecakes as a treat. Then, I stopped at Redbox and rented a funny movie as a non-food, non-alcoholic activity.

Still, when I arrived home the temptation to throw it all out the window, met me right at the front door. Blasted demon ego!

“Look, you made it past Wednesday! Isn’t THAT enough? You are stressed and sad. You can make up for this later. Next week you can tackle Thursday over! Have a drink. If it makes you feel better, you can skip dinner!”, Ego quipped as if it were nothing.

This time my heart was silent. Instead, I thought of what I’d written in my journals to God. I thought about what I really want. I thought about why I started this in the first place. I thought of starting over and over and over again, never making it over the hump.

“Darn it. This is ridiculous. I am worth MORE than sitting on the stupid couch with a stupid cocktail.”, said Heart.

Just then, I remembered I’d ordered a special herbal bath potion to soak in. Walking to the mailbox I told myself if it was there, I’d use that as my reward. It was.

Determined, I went back into the house, made a nice salad, and sat down and ate it so I would not be hungry while I prepared dinner. After dinner, I headed up the stairs and took a glorious, “I DID IT” soak!

And so here I am today. It’s Friday. (Tonight, I get to have wine and homemade pizza and it doesn’t even feel important any more.)

As I reflect back on the work-week, I am reminded of what I have always known: when I suit up and show up and do the work with God in front, miracles happen. God isn’t just for the big stuff, He’s here for us for all things and He responds in all sorts of wonderful ways. There is something to be said for journaling thoughts, hopes, dreams, prayers etc. to God. (I think it cements things in the heart more securely.) Is it necessary to do so in order to communicate with God? Absolutely not. (In fact, I’m sure there are some people out there who will be offended that this is one of the ways I choose to be connected. Oh well.)

Having said all of this, I am fully aware that after tonight, I still have to go through Saturday and Sunday in order to truly say I had a successful week. (This is a Holiday weekend so I know it will be a little harder.) These days I really am trying to keep focused on the day at hand. While I do plan ahead,the object is to keep my emotions and my determination centered on “one-day-at-a-time”.

So color me grateful. I know God sees me and I like to think He’s happy with my tiny bit of progress. I am feeling joyful beyond measure! The bonus factor that I knew when I began this is that I’m feeling closer to God than before. Lest you think all I do is pray about getting through these two weeks, among other things, I also pray that my relationship with all things spiritual, especially God, continue to strengthen. It’s working.

NOTE: Although I missed a couple of days blogging, I am still here, and I am not going anywhere. Admittedly, this is a lot of harder to do than my blogs of days-gone-by where I had a set routine and outline to follow each day. I WILL persist!

****************

So you have a visual, here is a photo of the tiny journal I keep in my purse. I pull it out and write in it whenever and  I have something on my heart. (The first page I always use for my favorite verses.) When I get home later, I’ll photograph the book I use there. It’s similar but large. The one below is about five 1/2 inches by 3 and 3/4″. It fits perfectly inside my purse.

FullSizeRender (1)                    FullSizeRender (2)

BTW, if I talk about food, I will always leave the recipe here:


Roasted Pork Tenderloin

Ingredients:

  • (2) 1/2 lb Tenderloins (1 package of tenderloin has two 1/2 lb tenderloins inside)
  • 4 tablespoons
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Any seasoning blend you like. I used a prepared one that had garlic, lemon, oregano, chili pepper etc.) You can even use prepared rubs OR just make your own with whatever you like–you want enough to coat the Tenderloin all over.
  • 1/2 c. honey
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1 c. balsamic vinegar
  • Fresh ground pepper (to taste)
  • Kosher salt (to taste)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • On a baking sheet, sprinkle each tenderloin with the balsamic vinegar. Rub it into all sides.
  • Drizzle olive oil and rub into all sides.
  • Coat with your seasonings (or prepared rub)
  • Let the pork sit for up to 20 minutes prior to cooking.
  • Roast in hot oven for 20 minutes. If it still gives a lot to the touch, flip it and let it go for 6-8 minutes.

Meanwhile:

While the pork is cooking, to a sauce pan add the following:

  • 1 c. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. honey

Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Let the sauce reduce by half until it will coat a spoon. When your pork comes out, drizzle it over the top prior to serving.

Grateful Heart stays the course.

happy-heart

Good grief, it takes so little these days to truly MAKE my day. Yesterday I posted the second little blog I’ve done in years. It was with a bit of trepidation, because I am such a perfectionist! (I have a hard time showing anything that I do not deem to be my personal best.) I did it though, because I am attempting to challenge myself in new ways; ONE of which is to relax my standards a bit. (Who am I kidding, that’s really never going to happen the way it sounds! ha ha) It’s probably better to say I am currently challenging myself in all sorts of new, uncomfortable ways.

Anyway, before I hit that “publish” button, I held a silent pep-rally for myself.

“It doesn’t matter-no one is going to see this anyway. It’s just practice. You can share the links later when you are back in the saddle, etc.”.

Soon after I hit that button, I left my home office determined not to think about it again; just happy I could cross, “write something” off my list.

Then last night something happened. I started getting email notifications that people were subscribing to and liking this blog. I nearly cried. It’s such a small thing, but truly, I am so grateful. It’s the little things that count, right? ♥

So with this tiny boost to my heart, I was able to get through last night without veering from my current eating plan. (Protein shake for breakfast; chalky protein shake for lunch; sensible dinner.) Instead of my planned menu, I made perhaps the best meatloaf I’ve ever made in my life (recipe below), steamed broccoli and regular baked potatoes. The plan had been to make naked burgers and sweet potatoes, but I wasn’t feeling it. (Also, long about four PM, I was starting to have food fantasies, so I made a salad of romaine, tomato, artichoke, onion and light Caesar dressing. It hit the spot.)

(Did I fail to mention I’m a foodie? I probably should have said something. Soon you’ll be seeing photos of my creations!

Tonight is the biggest challenge of the week. Wednesdays are always hard as my hubs and I cook the Fellowship meal for a hundred church people each week.  (Of course today, I FORGOT to pack my lunchtime caulk – I mean shake- but that’s not the real challenge.) Wednesday’s we get into the kitchen around 1PM. Dinner is served promptly at 5:15, so it’s a lot of running around in between. (Did I mention it’s four thousand degrees in the kitchen right now?) The challenge comes when we hit the door at home and it’s almost 7PM and we’re tired. The last thing I want to do is eat, but we’re so wired from working, we don’t want to just lie down either. So what do we do? Usually Wednesday night we have a well-deserved, delicious celebratory cocktail. Not tonight.  I made a vow to stick to this program for 2 weeks, so no imbibing for me this evening.

How will I manage? Determination, dedication and prayer and lots of it. This morning before I got out of bed, I had my morning convo with Jesus. Later, when I went downstairs, I got out my prayer journal and wrote for a while. It’s making a huge difference. There is something to be said about keeping prayer in the forefront of your heart. There is something to be said about keeping a journal just for prayers and intentions. For me it feels as though it’s written on my heart as well as in that journal and it helps me STICK to the PLAN!

Tomorrow I will start to include photos of the things I’m talking about in the hopes that you are currently in the midst of a challenge, you might think about the things that are working for me and give them a try! (I even keep the cutest mini journal in my purse for times when I feel I need a boost. Yes, I do jot down notes and prayers to God there. You’d be surprised at how often the answers come in all sorts of ways.)

OH and…ALSO tomorrow, I have to share the coolest thing EVER…one of my new favorite things…a piece of art that someone rescued from a dumpster for me! (perks of working part-time for a church!) Stay tuned!!

If you are following me, THANK YOU! You make my heart smile! If you have a blog, I will be visiting soon!


Best little Meatloaf Ever 

meatloaf

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground beef (we had a grass-fed 80/20 on hand so that’s what I used)
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce (I had organic pizza sauce on hand so I used that)
  • 1/2 minced onion
  • 1/4 grated Parmesan
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 3/4 c. steel cut oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • Dash or two organic ketchup for the top (optional)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Combine all ingredients (except the optional ketchup).
  • Press into a 8″ x 4″ loaf pan, top with a slathering of organic ketchup if you so desire.
  • Bake 45 minutes.

This recipe will serve 4 – 6 people depending on how large you like your slices. Since it’s just my hubs and I, he will have leftovers for a couple of lunches!

PS-I adapted this recipe from one I found on the Internet.