Sunday, March 31, 2013

I Am Not Alone - Week 13

"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?"
                                                                                                                          Matthew 6:26

Friday morning I vowed to get up early so that I could be at the historic farm I wanted to visit by the time the sun was coming up.

I did get there shortly after it first peeked over the horizon. I was thrilled to have the place to myself, alone in nature, and able to wander at will.

After I finished getting the shots I wanted, I decided to drive to and explore the other two park entrances, planning for future photo walks.

The last entrance that I stopped at is also where the sledding hill is located. After I got out of the car I was delighted to again be the only person there. I headed towards the top of the sledding hill. As I neared the base of the hill this is what I saw.

I approached slowly and quietly, hoping that this majestic hawk would stay for just a bit so I could get a few pictures of him. I was bummed at first that I didn't have a zoom lens on, but then I thought - no God has given me this gift, just do the best I can with what I have and enjoy it.

I was able to get fairly close and he just sat there watching me. After I had snapped a few shots of him I climbed to the top of the sledding hill, I sat on one of the benches and just watched him, eventually he flew away. Probably bored with watching me. As I sat there I was reminded of the fact that even when I think I am alone, I am never really alone, God is always watching me. A good reminder on Good Friday.

The theme this week at 52 of You was Black and White. 

This week I lost: 0 lbs
Total weight loss: 7 lbs.

I am okay with where I am at, at this point if I lose more I will have to buy new jeans, and I would rather wait until Fall to do that. I am hoping shorts season comes soon.

The weather was very cooperative yesterday, so we took advantage of it and went out hiking. Working on building strength and endurance for hiking in Glacier National Park this summer. Sand dunes are good practice.

I made my favorite chili recipe this week. Not so sure about the healthy aspect of it, but it is packed with protein.


1 (14.5 oz) can stewed tomatoes, chopped
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
1 carrot, sliced
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/4 cup white wine
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/3 cup bottled steak sauce
5 slices bacon
1-1/2 lbs. ground beef
1 package chili seasoning mix
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 (15 oz) can kidney beans, drained
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

  1. In a large pot over medium-low heat, combine tomatoes, tomato paste, carrot, onion, celery, wine, pepper flakes, bell peppers and steak sauce.
  2. While tomato mixture is simmering, in a large skillet over medium heat, cook bacon until crisp. Remove to paper towels. Cook beef in bacon drippings until brown; drain. Stir chili seasoning into ground beef.
  3. Stir seasoned beef, cumin and bacon into tomato mixture. Continue to simmer until vegetables are tender and flavors are well blended.
  4. Stir in beans, cilantro and parsley. Heat through and serve.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Mary Kay Calling - Week 12

Often people attempt to live their lives backwards: they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want so that they will be happier. The way it actually works is the reverse. You must first be who you really are, then do what you really need to do, in order to have what you want.                                                                                            
                                                                                                               ~Margaret Young

It might surprise some of you to know that in my early days of motherhood I was a Mary Kay Beauty Consultant.

The thought of getting out once in a while to meet other women and play with makeup sounded like fun to a housebound young mom.

I should have known that when the colors of the lipsticks and eyeshadows were more enthralling than the money making part of the business, that I was destined to be an artist and not a salesperson. Although, the Mary Kay training did come in handy when I worked in retail, selling Pandora jewelry and Vera Bradley bags. And if it wasn't for Mary Kay foundation being so light and covering so well I still probably wouldn't be wearing it.

What made me think of my past life in Mary Kay is a book I just finished by Brene' Brown called The Gifts of Imperfection. In the book Brene' talks about authenticity. "Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It's about the choice to show up and be REAL."

I know when I was a beauty consultant I didn't feel very REAL.  I also didn't see a lot that realness in the pep rally meetings, but I did see a lot of fakeness. I remember one of our local directors, who always had a happy smile plastered on her face and had that sappy sweet tone to her voice. I would always think - is she really like this all the time? Does she ever get mad? Or get sad?

One thing I always strive for in my writing and in my life is authenticity. I want to be REAL. I know that I put myself out there sometimes but that is me, that is me being honest. I am happy, but I also get angry, sad, and discouraged. 

I close with this passage from Brene's book, "If you're like me, practicing authenticity can feel like a daunting choice - there's risk involved in putting your true self out in the world. But I believe there's even more risk in hiding yourself and your gifts from the world."

This week's 52 of You theme was work. Since I don't have a 9 to 5 away from the house, I captured some of the stuff I do in my 9 to 5 at home.

With two golden retrievers, vacuuming is a never ending job.

Along with dog hair and the tiny bits of gravel that seems to be on everyone's feet when they come in the house, this is another endless task in the winter and spring.

A weekly weekend activity, once the work clothes have been worn for the week, and then washed.

This week I lost: 1 lb.
Total weight loss: 7 lbs.

Feeling a little more on track this week.

This week I started some interval training on the treadmill. I have to walk at a very slow pace (2.5) for 90 seconds and then at an incline of 5.0 and speed of 4.4 for 30 seconds. Heart rate up and heart rate down. I can do up to six sets of this for a total of 20 minutes on the treadmill. This is the first major cardio thing we have added in at training. I love it that I can do it at home as well as at the gym. 

I made a salad this week that Glen called an October salad, and it is true with the sweet potatoes and cinnamon it tastes very much like fall. This is the first time I have used Wheat Berries, I was pleasantly surprised how much I liked them.

Roasted Sweet Potato & Wheat Berry Salad

1.5 cups cooked wheat berries (about 3/4 cup uncooked)
2 cups of mixed greens (baby kale, spinach, arugula, etc.)
1 large sweet potato, chopped into cubes
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup crumbled feta
1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds (toast on a small skillet for 30 seconds)
pinch of red pepper flakes

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 clove minced garlic
2 tsp. honey
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
4 sage leaves, finely chopped
salt & pepper

cook the wheat berries: (you can do this ahead of time) Cook these like pasta, not like rice, so the ratio of water doesn't matter, you just need to make sure the water covers them. Fill a pot with water, salt the water, add the wheat berries. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 1 hour (sometimes longer). About halfway through check to make sure there is still water covering the wheat berries. If most of your water has been absorbed but your wheat berries are still crunchy, add more water and continue simmering. They are done when they have a soft but still firm, not mushy, bite.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Chop the sweet potato into bite sized cubes. Drizzle with some olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast in the oven for 20-30 minutes, or until the edges start to turn darker and roast. 

Stir the dressing ingredients together, set aside.

Place greens in a large bowl. Place the warm wheat berries and hot sweet potatoes over them so they wilt slightly from the heat. Add the dressing, as much or little as you like. Toss. Add in the rest of the ingredients, gently toss again. Taste and adjust seasonings.

*recipe source

Sunday, March 17, 2013

It's Just a Number - Week 11

"The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman is seen in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides. True beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It's the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows and the beauty of a woman only grows with passing years."
                                                                                                                               ~Audrey Hepburn

It's just a number or a letter on a label, so why do we as women get so hung up on being a certain size? Instead of the "ideal" number we should be more concerned about how the clothes fit. I personally have jeans that range from a size 6 to a size 12 and they all fit. Although the ones in the middle, the 10's, are the ones that need a belt right now.

Every clothing manufacturer seems to have their own opinion on what is the perfect size 12.

What brought this matter to my attention was my daughter. When she was home for Spring Break she was going through her closet and there were a few pairs of jeans on the floor. She asked me what I thought she should do with these. I asked what was wrong with them. She said they were a little tight, but "I hate to get rid of them because they are 1's". Now no young woman with any even the slightest curves should still be wearing a 1. I know she has always prided herself on being small, and she still is, but at 19 you should no longer be shopping in the Junior's Section.

Embrace your curves and embrace your number on the label. As long as it fits good, that is all that really matters.

The theme for this week at 52 of You was details. Which, in my mind can be anything.

A life necessity is shaving.

All winter I live in my SmartWool socks.

This week I gained: .5 lbs
Total weight loss: 6 lbs.

If I said that I am not disappointed to be stuck at this plateau I would be lying. I feel like I worked really hard this week and ate quite healthy, but yet the number stays virtually unchanged. I know all that stuff about muscle weighs more than fat, and I know that I am gaining muscle, but still it would be nice to drop just a little bit. I only have 4 lbs. to go to goal weight and I have a feeling they will be hard fought pounds.

I have a new exercise to do at home using my 1 lb. hand weights, which doesn't seem like much until you are doing this exercise for 2-5 minutes. You have to stand with your back almost touching the wall behind you, stand straight, spine nice and tall, head positioned over shoulders, not out in front of you like a turtle, shoulders back and down. Have the weights in your hands down by your side, palms facing the wall, then bring your arms straight out and up to a 90 degree angle then back down again. It strengthens your neck and shoulders and upper back.

I have been in love with the sweet potatoes lately, so I tried a couple new recipes, here is one of them:


2 cans cannellini white beans, drained
1 large sweet potato, baked/peeled/mashed (about 2 cups)
2 Tbsp. tahini
2 tsp. maple or agave syrup
1 tsp. lemon pepper seasoning or Cajun seasoning
1/4 cup wheat flour
salt to taste if needed

Plentiful Panko crumbs
safflower oil for pan
Whole Wheat Buns


1. Bake sweet potato. Peel, place in large mixing bowl.
2. Add drained beans to mixing bowl. Mash beans and potato together.
3. Mash in seasoning, flour and any additional seasoning. Your mixture will be quite soft and moist. But you should be able to form a patty. Add more flour or a scoop of breadcrumbs to thicken the mixture if needed.
4. Heat 1 Tbsp. safflower oil in a pan over high heat.
5. Form a patty from mixture and coat in Panko crumbs. Thick coating. Then drop the patty in the pan. Repeat until the pan is filled. Cook until browned on both sides. You could also bake. If baking, use less Panko.
6. Transfer cooked patties to paper towel. Cool for a few minutes.
7. Serve on toasted buns with lotsa toppings

*toppings - I used baby spinach and honey dijon mustard. Glen wanted cheese slices on his.

recipes comes from:

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Heart to Heart on the Journey - Week 10

You can talk with someone for years, everyday, and still, it won't mean as much as what you can have when you sit in front of someone, not saying a word, yet you feel that person with your heart. You feel like you have known that person for forever...connections are made with the heart, not the tongue"
                                                                                                                                  ~C. JoyBell C.

There is always at least one heart to heart conversation with Mallory when she is home on a break. It is one of those conversations that you just wish would go on all afternoon, and many times it does. There is no rush to be somewhere, no looking at my phone to see what time it is, or looking to see what emails have come in.

This past Monday over a Cinnamon Dolce Latte, Vanilla Spice Latte, and a couple of chocolate chip cookies, we talked. We talked about all the important things in a college girl's life; boys, school and the future. We talked about all her fears about; boys, school and the future.

These conversations warm my heart as I see her grow, mature and become the young woman God intends her to be. Seeing her grow up into a beautiful young woman, shows me that making the decision and sacrifice to be a mostly stay at home mom was so worth it.

This week's 52 of You theme was reflections. I snapped a couple yesterday when Mallory and I were at my parent's house.

This week I lost: 0 lbs.
Total weight loss: 6.5 lbs.

Considering all the eating out that I did this past week, I am quite happy that I stayed the same and didn't gain.

A new machine to conquer this week at personal training. This is kind of a combination Elliptical/Stair Stepper machine. Targeting my gluts was the goal, and it definitely gets the burn on.

A wonderful healthy dessert: Raspberries with plain Greek yogurt and a sprinkle of granola.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

A Quiet Moment on the Journey - Week 9

"Snow falling soundlessly in the middle of the night will always fill my heart with sweet clarity"
                                                                                                          ~Novala Takemoto, Missin'

There is something magical about standing in the heart of the woods in the gray morning light, a blanket of freshly fallen snow all around you. The only sound you hear is the squeaky crunch of your boots walking on that beautiful snow. The quiet of the woods envelopes you as you head down the trail, your footprints the lone ones.

I had one of those magical moments last weekend when we were in Marquette visiting our daughter at college. We were out at Presque Isle Park at a reasonable morning hour by my standards (early by college student standards). Glen and Mallory had ventured over to the icy, snowy rocks along the edge of Lake Superior. I continued along the trail by myself with my camera in hand. Nobody had snow shoed or skied on this section of the park yet and there was a fresh blanket of snow from the night before covering everything.

The quiet was priceless.

Maribeth, my personal trainer has me working on stepping back and observing myself in my life. You would think that as a writer and photographer I would already do that, but I don't, not really. I need to observe how I interact with others and my environment. One thing I always knew but became even more aware of doing this exercise is that I need periods of quiet. There is already so much going on in my head that with constant noise around me as well, eventually I become overwhelmed and cranky from too much noise.

So I am working on creating more periods of quiet in my day, and more walks in the woods.

This week's theme at 52 of You was Eyes. It is very hard to hold the camera pointed at yourself and get it to focus on your eyes. My theme should have been eyebrows, since the camera seemed to find them without a problem. Which just drew attention to the fact that they desperately need to be waxed. I will be calling Nicole on Monday to set up an appointment for a brow waxing asap.

This week I lost: 0 lbs.
Total Weight Loss: 6.5 lbs.

I am happy with this, since we were traveling last weekend and dining at our favorite Marquette restaurants. 

Things are going well at the gym. We have narrowed it down to the fact that I really need to work on strengthening my lower back muscles and my gluts. My arms and legs are fairly strong, they are over compensating for my weak low back.

I discovered these great bars this week. Just to be clear they are not candy bars and they don't taste like them. They do fill you up and give you needed energy between meals. I have one packed in my camera  bag and one in the car. Just in case I am out somewhere longer than anticipated.

I made one of my favorite soups this week.


1/2 lb. bulk Italian sausage
1/2 lb. lean ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small green pepper, chopped
1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can (14-1/2 oz.) beef broth
1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
1/2 cup picante sauce
1-1/2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried oregano

In a large saucepan, cook the sausage, beef, onion and green pepper over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in tomatoes, broth, tomato sauce, picante sauce, sugar, basil and oregano. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Nutritional information: 1 cup serving (prepared with turkey sausage and reduced sodium broth equals 161 calories.

**Note: I usually double the recipe, then I have extra to put in the freezer.