Monday, January 25, 2016

Menu plan for the week of January 25

This week the meal that Hubby is preparing is a little different.  I like it.  The children will still complain about it, though, since it's soup, and they claim to not like soup.  By the way, MC liked the Campbell's chicken noodle soup from a few weeks ago, so that's good.  And gives lie to the whole not liking soup thing.

I like it, the soup Hubby is making this week, but I haven't made it in ages, because it's a lot of work, and I found a new favorite that is so much easier (open can, dump in pot, repeat.  Add seasonings.  Stir.  Simmer).  I'm happy to let Hubby make it, though.



Sunday, January 24, 2016

If I Knew Then What I Know Now: A Review

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

My honest review? Don't waste your money. It was boring, irrelevant, and poorly written, and truthfully, I couldn't bring myself to finish reading it.  If I knew then what I know now about this book, I wouldn't have wasted my time.

Bottom line:  Just don't.

Trim Healthy Mama Plan: A Review

You may recall that a couple of months ago, I reviewed  Trim Healthy Mama CookbookEat Up and Slim Down with More Than 350 Healthy Recipes, written by sisters Pearl Barrett and Serene Allison.  I thought that there would be enough information in the cookbook about the plan that I could take a short cut and just read the cookbook, skipping the plan.  I was wrong.  As I wrote in my review, "if you are not following THM, you will find this cookbook frustrating and confusing.  If you are not yet, but would like to start, following THM principles, start with Trim Healthy Mama Plan, then get Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook."

So that's what I did.  I requested Trim Healthy Mama Plan: the easy-does-it approach to vibrant health & a slim waistline to review.

Trim Healthy Mama is anchored in protein.  Pearl and Serene suggest that each meal and snack contain protein and either complex carbohydrates or healthy fats, but not both.  The book is organized into 4 sections: The Basics, which explains, well, the basics of the plan, including types of meals; Let's Go, which is kind of a quick-start section; Menus, Eating Tips, and What to Expect, which addresses the concerns of several different types of folks who may be using the plan, including pregnant or nursing mamas, and allergen-free; and Trim Healthy and Beyond, which is kind of the advanced learning section, talking about exercise and balance.

I have mixed feelings about the book and about the plan.  One of the biggest criticisms I've heard about Trim Healthy Mama is that it's difficult to understand and that there is a steep learning curve.  I think that criticism is absolutely valid.  If you already have a good understanding of nutrition, especially macronutrients, you will find the plan easier to understand and follow.  If not, you are going to have a really hard time with this.

Another criticism I've heard about THM is that it requires a lot of specialty ingredients that are difficult to find in your local grocery store.  While that's not entirely true--in fact, it is possible to follow THM eating principals with no special ingredients at all--this is also a valid criticism.  The sisters are forever talking about and recommending special ingredients I've never heard of and wouldn't know where to find (except for on their website).  They way they talk, and the way their recipes are formulated, it seems so much more difficult to achieve success without those special ingredients.

On the other hand, the message makes sense.  I really do feel like if one was able to successfully follow the principles of THM, it would work.  And I also think that once the reader navigated that steep learning curve, eating this way would become easy and second nature.  I just don't feel like it makes sense for me right now.

I received this book for free from the publisher through Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

Sandcastle Kings: A Review

I recently finished reading Sandcastle Kings: Meeting Jesus in a Spiritually Bankrupt World by Rich Wilkerson, Jr.  In this book, Mr. Wilkerson uses the context of the stories recorded in chapter 7 of the Gospel of Luke to highlight 4 different ways that we build our castles on sand, instead of finding the true joy and fulfillment found in building a life on the solid foundation of Christ.

With personal anecdotes and vivid story-telling, the author explores the stories of the Centurion, the Widow, John the Baptist, and the Sinful Woman, showing how our deepest longings and needs will never be met in the places we tend to look: in self-reliance, in other people, in the world and material things, or even in religion, instead encouraging the reader to seek Jesus.  Mr. Wilkerson contends that our ultimate desires can only be satisfied in Jesus.  Only in looking to Him can we find the peace and joy we desperately crave.

I really liked the book.  I found it easy to read, and enjoyed the personal narrative woven throughout.  I was inspired to really take a hard look at to what or to whom I am looking to find joy and fulfillment.  And what I discovered is that I, like the Centurion, Widow, John, and Sinful Woman, I am not always looking in the right place.

I did find the chapters to be a bit unfocused at times--I would have to flip back to figure out which story, and which "sandcastle" we were currently evaluating--but I still enjoyed the book and learned a lot.

Bottom line: this is an engaging book which will make you re-think your focus.

I received this book for free from the publisher through BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, January 22, 2016


I've never really considered myself to be a skier.  The first time I ever skied was during my senior year of college.  I had to take 4 PE classes for my degree, and my friend Bob convinced me to try cross country skiing for one of them.  He even had skis and boots and poles for me, and offered to wax my skis every week.

See that sticker on my right ski?
First of all, that means I had my skis on the wrong feet.  Who knew there was a right and left on those things?
Second, I got these waxless skis at Goodwill for $1.99.  Whoop!
Unfortunately, I have no idea how to care for waxless skis.
It was a lot of fun, and I got pretty good at it.  Fun fact: I never, ever fell going downhill.  The only times I fell were when I was going uphill.  Funny, huh?  You would think the higher speeds assisted by gravity would encourage falls more than the slower speed of fighting gravity.  Not for this girl.

After we were married, Hubby and I would go skiing together.  Not regularly, but several times each winter.  Then we moved to a less snowy location and the kids came along.  I took a hiatus from skiing, but vowed to get back to it someday.

So here I am, back in a place where there is snow on the ground for most of the winter, and there are trails that are groomed.  And I'm back to skiing.

It's a funny thing.  I seem to remember being a whole lot more graceful way back when.  I'm trying to figure out if my equipment is at fault, or if I can blame on the terrain and trail conditions, or if my memory is faulty, and I never was very good at it.

The "bridge to nowhere."  I love this bridge.
I think it's probably a bit of each.

Don't worry--I turn around when I see this sign.  Maybe someday I'll feel confident enough...
But I'm skiing again, regularly, even, and I'm loving it, even though I feel like mostly I'm just walking around in the snow with long skinny boards on my feet.  Good thing I rarely see anyone on the trail.

Surely there was more glide in my stride back in 1995.

The other day, I passed a cute couple skiing together, so apparently there is at least a little glide going on in my technique.  We were on the river loop, a side trail that goes out to the river.  They were going slow.  So slow.  And I was going slow, too.  Because I was behind them, and I couldn't remember the trail etiquette for passing.  Do I call out to them?  Do they get out of the tracks or do I need to pass them in the center "skate" zone?  Which, let me tell you, would have been an embarrassing disaster.  I remember being able to "skate," but apparently, my body does not.

We came to the river, and they stopped to look.  The woman saw me behind them, and told her man to get out of the tracks so I could pass.  Grateful, I said thank you, and skied on past.  In response to my thank you, the woman said, "it's no bother, we're in no hurry.  No hurry at all."  And she smiled the most glorious smile.

That's how I want to be.  That's how I want to live my life.  In no hurry at all.  And with a glorious smile on my face.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Menu plan for the week of January 18

So Hubby has a goal this year.

I meant to make goals.  Like think of them, and then write them down, along with a plan for accomplishing them.  But they're still just floating, amorphous, about in my brain.  Oops.  January's not over yet--maybe I should make a goal to make goals by the end of January?  Of course, at this point, the only one of these goals that is sorta kinda clearly defined is to make kale chips when kale is in season.  There.  I wrote it down.  I've got goal, people.  Halfway to goals.

Oh, wait a minute.  I do have a goal!  My goal is to show up in one of my Facebook's friend's posts where you list your 1st ten friends, you know what I'm talking about?  Like Santa's naughty kids' list?  So and so was caught replacing all the wrapping paper with toilet paper and someone else was caught taking the sleigh for a joyride?  So I'm stalking my friend on Facebook.

It is so good to have goals.
Goal setting
Anyway, Hubby has a goal this year.  And I kind of feel like he should have run it past me first, because his success depends heavily on my cooperation.  His goal is to take his wife out on a date once a month this year.  I'm his wife, which means I have to go on dates with him once a month for him to achieve his goal.  The first of these monthly dates is coming up this week.  The kiddos will be left to fend for themselves.

Continuing with the Hubby-cooks-food-that-the-kiddos-will-complain-about-and-I-also-don't-particularly-care-for series is enchiladas this week.  I'm still not quite sure what Hubby means when he says enchiladas.  I know what I think of when he says enchiladas, but that's not necessarily what he's thinking.

Anyway, here's what's on the menu this week.

  • Beef stroganoff (similar to this), corn, salad
  • Tacos (from the freezer), taco toppings
  • Omelet (with lots of veggies) or sausage egg english muffin
  • Hamburgers with or without buns, grilled green vegetable, salad
  • Pizza, salad
  • Out to eat/fend for yourself
  • Enchiladas

What's on your menu this week?

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Once upon a time

Once upon a time, there was a girl who lived in the woods.

OK, she was actually a woman.  A married woman with a child.  But she did live in the woods.  No grass.  Rocky creek bordering the property.  Closest year-round neighbors about 1/4 mile away.  It was awesome.

One day this woman and her husband had some people over for a bonfire.  Because she was a married woman with a child, a child who was nursing, she found herself left behind when the others traveled the 1/8 mile or so down the gravel road to the firepit.

It was a lovely night, but overcast, and it was dark out, darker than she thought it was, when she set off, with her baby, down the path to join the others.  If she had realized how dark it was, she might have looked a little harder for a flashlight.  Or stayed in the house.

But she didn't, and soon the lights of the house faded behind her.  It was dark.  So very dark.  She felt alone and afraid.  She could not see where she was going.  She considered turning back to the house, but couldn't see light in any direction.


When she arrived at the firepit, the others asked her how she was able to find her way in the dark.  "I looked up," she responded.

You see, there were no trees over the road, so by looking up, the woman was able to see the contrast between the trees and the not-trees, the slight difference in blackness, and she stayed on the path.

And then she realized that's how she should navigate through life, to look up when she felt alone and afraid and in the dark.  To look up, to the Creator, trusting God to show her the way to stay on the path.


Years later, the same woman was walking through the woods again.  This time, she wasn't looking up, because it wasn't dark out, and she was wearing snowshoes and didn't want to trip, and there were all these tiny little black bugs on the snow.  They were kind of distracting.  I mean, what kind of bug hangs out in the snow?

No, seriously.  What kind of bug likes to hang out in the snow?  They were itty bitty tiny, like gnat-size.

Anyway, she wasn't looking up.  She didn't need to.  Until God tapped her on the head.  The tap looked like a clump of snow falling from a tree branch, but it was a tap.  A gentle reminder.  To look up.  Even when it's not dark.

And it was beautiful.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Menu plan for the week of January 11

When I was planning meals for this month, I asked Hubby for suggestions.  He gets a little frustrated when I ask him for meal suggestions, because I reject a good portion of his ideas.  I reject them because I know most of the kids won't like them, and my personal feeling is, if I'm going to make something that my kids won't like, it needs to be something I really love, to make enduring the whining worthwhile.

Please note that I said if I am going to make something the kids don't like, it needs to be something I love.  I.  I told him if he wants to eat those things, things the kids won't eat and I don't particularly like either, he needs to make them himself.  And he said OK.  I hope he's mentally prepared to deal with first the whining, and then the leftovers.  Can you guess which meal that is this week?



So, what's your guess for Hubby's meal?  

It's the white sauce with linguine.  That's white sauce from a jar.  Oh my.  I'm not sure how I'm going to be able to even bring myself to buy such a thing.  You can tell it's his meal by the preponderance of starch and the lack of green vegetables.  Oh, I love him :)

Monday, January 4, 2016

Menu plan for the week of January 4

Hello, everyone.

It is good to be home.  Of course, the problem with being home is at home I have to plan meals.  If you find yourself in a similar situation, let me help.  Here's our menu plan for this week.  Feel free to copy.

You might notice Campbell's chicken noodle soup on the menu this week.  Well, now you'll notice it for sure.  MC announced several weeks ago that he likes chicken noodle soup.  A couple of weeks later I made chicken noodle soup, which was not, apparently, the kind he likes.  I'm not sure that I've ever actually made chicken noodle soup before then, so I'm not sure where MC tasted it or what the recipe might have been, so I've decided to heat up the classic, see if he likes that, and work from there.

You also might notice (or will for sure notice now) that I'm also making creamy chicken and wild rice soup the same night.  This is the same soup I made and loved not too long ago, but this time I'm going to use cauliflower to thicken and creamy-fy the soup.  I'll let you know how it goes (if it's good, at least...)

Slow Cooker Chicken Burrito Bowl
Slow cooker chicken burrito bowl courtesy of No. 2 Pencil


One giant peanut butter M&M cookie to cure even the largest peanut butter cookie craving!
Giant monster cookie courtesy of Sally's Baking Addiction

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Top 15 posts of 2015

Hey y'all.  Welcome to 2016.  Whew.  We made it.

Today I thought it would be fun to look back at my 15 most popular posts from last year.  Here ya go:

15. Everything you need to know, from January

14. Recipes to share, from April

13. The Lego Storage Problem, from June

11. God's Story in 66 Verses, from March

6. Psycho Cannibal Chickens, from February

5. The Dirty Floor Blessing, from April

3 & 2. Mock "KIND" Bars {Fruit & Nut Bars}, from January; Playing Cards, from February

And the number one most popular post in 2015 was ...

Hope you enjoyed this little trip down memory lane.  Here's to a fabulous 2016!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Favorite Christmas posts countdown: 1

This week I'm sharing some of my favorite Christmas posts.  This post was originally published in November of 2011.


It's getting to be the time of year when I think a lot about light.  I don't recall ever thinking this way before moving back to the upper midwest 6 years ago.  I think it's because we're more than halfway to the north pole, and as the earth tips away from the sun, we have less daylight here in November and December than in any of the other places I've lived.  We also don't have street lights where we live, so when it's dark, it's very dark.

As I get older, I'm beginning to hate driving at night more and more.  I don't like not being able to see beyond my headlights--it's such a narrow view.  I was thinking about that last week as I was driving home from somewhere. As I drove through a section of road lighted by streetlights, I thought, hmmm, this is nice--I can actually see what I'm driving through, but it wasn't enough, though.  Those artificial lights, our feeble human attempts at dispelling the darkness, are nothing compared to the sun.  And the light of the sun is nothing compared to the light of the Son.

The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.
Isaiah 9:2
Curiously, it usually seems much lighter to me in January, when in reality, near the beginning of January we have even less daylight than we do now, in November.  I think it's because every year, at the end of December, I'm reminded, in a powerful way, that Christ, the Light of the world, has come into the world to shine His light into the deepest, darkest places.

But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light,
so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done
has been done in the sight of God.
John 3:21
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