Life is a journey…

Like many people, I have the best of intentions of eating right and exercising more. Like many people, I often do not meet my goals-in fact too often throw the diet and bathroom scale out the window! I want to be healthier, I follow blogs and Instagram that offer marvelously healthy recipes, visit websites that attempt to encourage and motivate and like many people have a gym membership that is currently being ignored and a bike that is gathering dust at the side of the house.

WHY????

Oh, I have bad knees, a busy schedule, birthday parties to attend and…well…frankly I have many other excuses too!  I’ll do well for a few weeks at a time but before I know it I am pretty much back to where I started. Maybe not all the way back but far enough.

One day I was catching up on blog posts and came across a posting that caught my eye at Blue Jangmi. She was participating in a Whole Food Challenge. The idea of the challenge is to remove specific items from you diet for 30 days, restart your metabolism,  and change the way you think about food.  When you reintroduce items you can possibly determine if certain foods are causing you problems.  You can then eliminate these foods from your diet. Also, after 30 days, you will have (hopefully) broken your bad food habits and maybe then you can begin healthier eating habits-right? Sounded good. I chuckled and commented to her that although it sounded nice, I just didn’t have 30 days in my life where I could avoid eating certain things and so good luck to her.  She kindly replied letting me know that there was never a perfect time to do something that was important for yourself.

…And I couldn’t stop thinking about it!
…And I decided to do it!

I didn’t talk about my decision very much because, frankly, I didn’t know if I could really do it. What started out to just be a personal challenge with some hopes of success turned into a meaningful journey. I committed to the September 2016 Whole 30 Challenge.

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I relied on Instagram for most of my information, motivation, and encouragement. I began to follow other people who were participating in the challenge and before long not only was I using some of their recipes but I was posting some of my own. I began to experiment and try new foods. Instead of just zucchini and yellow squash I tried acorn, butternut, and spaghetti squash. I learned to drink my coffee black, to forgo artificial sweeteners, to create a pumpkin chill that  was husband approved,  and make scrambled eggs with grated sweet potatoes (who knew you could do so many things with sweet potatoes???)

I read product labels for hidden sugars and started using something called coconut aminos instead of soy sauce to enhance the taste of some foods. I stared making my own ghee (a clarified butter) instead of actual butter. Full fat coconut milk and avocados became a part of my diet. No more wine with dinner (for 30 days anyway) or bread…but somehow I didn’t really miss it all much. (well, maybe the creamer in my coffee)

In a short while I noticed changes in the way my clothes were fitting. Since you’re giving up your relationship with food and your scale, I was not supposed to weigh or measure myself the entire 30 days.

Did I actually feel better you might ask? Well, yes and no. I was sleeping better but my joints still hurt. I didn’t have any specific food issues previously so I couldn’t judge changes in that way. I seemed to have more energy and I was not hungry between meals. My favorite meal of the day was dessert and I didn’t ( and don’t) even miss that!! Apples seemed to satisfy my sweet tooth most of the time.

I did feel a sense of accomplishment when I completed the entire 30 days.

I lost 11 pounds and a week later I was down 15 pounds. By November down 20 pounds. Now don’t get me wrong, I have a ways to go. The funny thing is I rather like maintaining this paleo-ish eating style. As we entered into the holiday season I knew there were many eating opportunities/challenges before me  and I took advantage of some (and maybe many?)  But… I needed to remember one of my favorite quotes:

Failing to plan is planning to fail.

So I planned and tried to make choices that worked for me.

During this time, one of my daughters  was busy jumping out of airplanes and challenging herself. She bought a motorcycle. She was learning to make changes in different ways  Her thoughts were if she can do this she can do anything!!  She was an inspiration to me! Anything is possible….

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I am happy to announce she eloped this past weekend!

(talk about moving out of your comfort zone!)

While I had no plans of jumping out of an airplane, don’t like motorcycles,  and happily married to Thommee for almost 29 years, I was excited to see where this journey might take me.

A January Whole 30 Challenge began this month and I jumped back on board.

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I felt the tune-up would help keep me on track after the holidays. It is going great. I will complete this challenge on January 30. I plan to continue on a somewhat Paleo diet. I love zipping up my jeans and tying my shoelaces. While my path might be somewhat modified, I found many people and supporters making this a life mission. They inspire me too! I am in awe of their dedication to good health but I don’t think it will happen for me in quite the same way. We all need to find our own journey and what works for us, right?  It is amazing what a few changes and attitude can make…and we can always learn and grow.

If you would like to review my journey, check out my Instagram. If you are curious about this Whole 30 program, just click on the link.

Any obstacles you are facing these days?

Happy 2017

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Boys and Girls

Isn’t it interesting how families seem to have more boys than girls, more daughters than sons, or more guys than gals? In our blended family we have 4 girls and 2 boys, 4 grandsons and 7 granddaughters, 1 great granddaughter and 2 more on the way (due in April and May). Thommmee is 1 of  5 brothers and 2 sisters, I am 1 of 4 sisters and 2 brothers.

In our more local/ immediate family we seem be surrounded by girls. As a result, I spend time with the girls in efforts of cooking, sewing, shopping, etc. We all spend time together camping, vacationing, playing games, barbequing,  beach trips, and a multitude of birthday parties. When it comes to doing ‘guy’ things, however, I have often felt that I fell short. I recently decided to make more of an effort to participate in some of the things that they enjoy. Surprisingly (or not) we actually ended up having a really good time.

A few weekends ago my 16 year old grandson and I made plans to attend an outdoors/sportsman event near me.  We were both really excited to spend this time together but honestly I was a bit apprehensive that I would disappoint him or he would be bored hanging out with grandma. Although we are very close and enjoy a very special bond, we are usually a part of a group since he has become a teenager. He lives about 30 miles away and this would also be his first trip managing the congested Southern California freeways by himself. On a Friday afternoon he headed my way as soon as he got out of school and arrived at my house about 3:30. I had decided to just go with whatever I would normally do so we quickly got busy making strawberry jam. Now, I realize this might not be a 16 year old boy’s idea of fun but I figured it was still hanging out with grandma so…. It was fun and he learned a thing or two about making jam.  Since it was Valentine’s Day weekend, we took a jar of fresh jam and decorated it for him to give to his girlfriend ( along with his other special mementos).

While I cleaned up, he went outside with Poppa (Thommmee) to barbeque some steaks and veggies. I made potatoes and garlic bread.  After dinner we settled down to play some board games and cards. We baked brownies. We talked. We laughed.  Eventually Poppa was ready for bed but we sat up and talked well past my  bedtime. We really shared with each other and I will treasure that evening forever.

Early the next morning the three of us were up laughing and talking over pancakes and bacon (which is enough to make anyone happy-right?) We didn’t invite Poppa or anyone else to go along on this trip so the two of us headed off to the event. Now, I don’t know what I expected, maybe a bunch of dudes in overalls chewing tobacco or some other foolish notions of what hunters, gun carrying survivalists might look like (sorry if I offended anyone here-I am somewhat a sheltered urban raised girl ). Anyway, it was mostly men (hey ladies, the ultimate place to meet a guy maybe?), normal looking people, a few women, and even a few families. Nonetheless, I am fairly certain I was the only proud grandma accompanied by her handsome 16 year old grandson. We had a great time but for me this was a one time event (just the show not the grandson).

Encouraged by this adventure, the following weekend I offered to take Thommmee to the Gold and Treasure show at the Fairplex (formally know as the LA Fairgrounds). He loves to watch all of those treasure hunting, prospecting, gold digging type shows so he was all in! (maybe this is where I got that stereo-type idea of the outdoorsmen?) They were selling all types of  machines, gizmos,  and every sort of prospecting gear you could imagine. They even sold dirt and a dirt of the month club membership so you could pan for gold in the privacy of your own home…really? Again, mostly men but more women and families at this event…..normal people! I think get these ideas from the shows Thommmee watches. They must pick extremes types to keep the shows interesting.

OK. I tried. I love the outdoors. If you read my blog you know I love to camp, I sleep in a tent and cook outdoors. These two weekends were a bit of a stretch for me but these men  appreciated my willingness to try something new and I got to spend time with these great guys.  I am not complaining at all. Next weekend our church is having a ladies afternoon tea which I will be attending. Not sure this is a fit for me either. I like my jeans, sneakers and bracelets. Perhaps I am someplace in between but I would like to keep an open mind.

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Looking Forward

What a great time to look forward!  Nothing like the thought of a new year to inspire us to set goals, make plans, decide to eat healthier, and to get moving. For me, not only am I faced with a new year but I am beginning my third year of retirement!

I eagerly jumped out of bed this morning, (well, maybe I lazily I climbed out of bed) full of optimism to begin the new year. Grand ideas have been swimming through my mind these past weeks about what I might do and what changes I might make. The Christmas cookies were finally gone, any leftover treats either consumed, given away, or tossed. The last of the gifts have been given, and the left over wrapping paper stowed away in anticipation for next year. The day was sunny and the spirits high.

After my healthy breakfast (and coffee without cream), I decided to tackle cleaning out my closet and drawers. Why this seemed more important than putting away the holiday décor I can’t say but I was in the mood to organize so I went with it!  I purged and tossed, I set aside things to be donated and organized everything in sight.

My make-up drawer is ready for the new year.

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 I could not bear to take a before picture.

A few loads of laundry later it was lunchtime. I had whipped up some fat busting cabbage soup

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and consumed multiple glasses of lemon water.

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Fortunately I planned ahead and went grocery shopping yesterday to make sure there were plenty of healthy options on hand. Reminds me of a favorite quote:

Failing to plan is planning to fail.

OK, so the rest of the day? I talked to some of the kids by phone, chatted with my sister, texted some family and friends, and watched some You Tube videos for inspiration for new sewing projects. I did not watch the Rose parade going on about 30 miles away. No football for me. Overall if was a very nice way to start the new year. The gym will probably have to wait until next week.

Happy New Year

and welcome to 2016!

Mommermom Cooks!

A great deal of my retirement is spent cooking. We have to eat-right? Cooking healthy is a challenge for me. We come from down home good old comfort food families. These past few years I have tried to use healthier ingredients and change the way we eat.  I have more time now to incorporate fresh foods and we seldom eat processed or fast food anymore. My recent favorite thing to cook up for dinner is…

Stir Fry

The beauty of stir fry is you can merge all of your favorite veggies together, with or without meat. It is quick, easy, and healthy! I don’t have any fancy pans or techniques but it always turns out and everyone enjoys it. For a more substantial meal you can include white or brown rice or oriental style noodles. They come in buckwheat, rice, grains, and a variety of other textures and flavors. Look around and see what is available in your local grocery or specialty stores.

Vegetables

This list is simply suggestions. Use any combination that you desire.  I might select at least 4-6 (or more) to keep it interesting. I tend to like a larger variety and use this as an opportunity to clean out the fridge!

  • onions
  • shallots
  • celery
  • garlic
  • bok choy ( I love baby bok choy)
  • napa or other cabbage
  • carrots
  • bell peppers (all colors)
  • bean sprouts
  • asparagus
  • mushrooms
  • broccoli
  • snow peas
  • zucchini

You get the idea. You can use whatever you like! I sometimes use chicken, beef, pork, and I bet shrimp would be good too.  Be creative.  Don’t be afraid to change it up. It is really hard to mess this up! This is a one pan endeavor which makes it even better.

Basic Stir Fry Recipe

Using a small amount of olive oil (or your favorite oil), cook chopped meat in a large fry or sauté pan. Season how you like it. Tonight I marinated my chicken in some cranberry/orange dressing that I found  in my fridge.

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You can also use soy or teriyaki sauce  for flavor.

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Make sure meat is thoroughly cooked. You can also use a rotisserie chicken or left over roast from dinner last night.

Select, prepare, and chop your veggies into smallish bite sized pieces.

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I usually remove the meat while cooking the vegetables but this is just my preference. (Usually because I am scrambling to finish gathering my ingredients together and I don’t want it over cooked.) You can also sauté chopped onion and/or garlic while you cook your meat or after it is removed from the pan. We are building the flavors as we go along to make sure we have a tasty result.

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Next, you will want to cook (over medium high heat), your more dense veggies like broccoli, celery, or zucchini. Remember this is stir fry so stir often! Depending on how crunchy you like your vegetables, have small pieces cook for 5 or so minutes before adding your softer vegetables like bok choy or bean sprouts as they cook very quickly. You don’t want a soggy mess. If you have not added your chopped onion and garlic yet, now would be a good time.

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If you are serving rice or noodles with your dish, you will have wanted that almost completed now as this next step does not take long at all.

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Tonight I cheated a bit and purchased a prepackaged bag of chopped vegetables. It caught my eye because the work was done and included finely sliced brussels sprouts.

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After cooking (and stirring) a few minutes, I added baby bok choy and bean sprouts. Add all of your remaining veggies and seasonings. I usually toss in a little sesame oil about now (if I have it). Of course salt is always good but since soy sauce has so much sodium I would use sparingly. I actually like a little coriander which sounds like a strange choice, but has great flavor. If needed, add some soy sauce (which I like)  or water to help steam veggies and as you stir to heat all the way through.

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Now that the veggies have cooked down a bit (and they will cook down) you can add the meat back into the pan. Stir together.

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How long should you cook this you might wonder? Well, depending on the doneness of your veggies or the type you select, this entire cooking process is finished in about 6-10 minutes. You just want to be sure that the vegetables are thoroughly heated for maximum flavor. Add soy sauce as desired.

I served on a bed of rice and my healthy dinner was ready in less than 30 minutes from start to finish.

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Enjoy!

 

A work in progress…

I have officially reached the age to receive Medicare. When I was younger it seemed a place so far away that surely if I ever reached this ancient age I would be used up and simply plant myself in a comfy chair to wait out my remaining years.

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Guess what?

I don’t feel that way at all. In fact, I have now reached a crossroads where I need to decide…

What do I want to do with the rest of my life?

If a normal reasonably healthy woman in the US has a life expectancy of 89 years old, I may have another 20+ or so years left. I realize that death came come “like a thief in the night, we know not when” as it states in the Bible, but just for argument sake, let me assume I will hang in another 20 years with at least moderately decent good health and a few good brain cells working.

So now what?

If you have read my blog you know I have a fabulous husband, many grandchildren, great kids, friends, am active in my church, and between all of that I am pretty busy with events, camping, birthday parties, vacations, and various outings. I also like to sew, get some reasonable pleasure from cooking, some gardening, and have recently started reading again (after a long dry spell).

Where do I go from here?

The first year of retirement  life seemed so clear. I had a purpose-I was now free of a daily required schedule and had the gift of life that retirement allowed. I jumped out of bed every morning relishing in the newness of not having to go to work every day. I was free to pursue the joys of life within my moderate budget. I don’t jump up quite so quickly these days. I joyfully  embraced the time I now had to spend time with those I loved and cared about. That has not changed at all. I was dedicated to getting to the gym regularly. Not so much any more (to be honest less and less). I sewed almost daily. Not now unless I have a specific project. I explored  and planned new adventures, combed blogs and the internet for ideas, and created new creations in the kitchen. Now-well, we have to eat so I have to cook. I blogged regularly. You can see that is not happening these days. I am lucky if I post twice a month. I was energetic and enthusiastic about almost everything. Now, yawn, is it naptime yet?

What happened?

I know, I need to eat better and exercise more.   I tried a crash exercise plan to get back into a groove with little success. Confession time-I have been slacking. I  know I thrive better on a routine so I have been attempting to tighten the reins on my daily activities-but remain somewhat flexible for unexpected opportunities.  (Isn’t it 5:00 somewhere?)

What now?

I crave to find a passion. Should I seek a new passion or revive an old one? Or a combination of both? Should I embrace a cause, volunteer,  get out more, or focus on the projects here at home? Is it all in my head or is it this aching body that seems to have slowed me down? Or is it all connected? Am I just finding a reasonable stride or am I really considering turning into that couch potato I was so worried about becoming? My kids laugh that I am so busy they can hardly keep up with my schedule. Am I being too hard on myself?

????

Life is a journey to be continued…

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Summertime!

I have been a bit absent and distracted from my blog for the past few weeks. I have tried to keep up with my favorite bloggers but may may have missed a few of you. It might take me some time to catch up.

What have I been up to????

Well…

I have been granddaughter and doggie sitting for a few weeks.

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 (while their parents have been in Alaska!)

A few beach trips…

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 …and poolside with grandkids or my swimming buddy.

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Giving sewing lessons…

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My recent project of sewing 150 zippered bags is complete and they are now finding new homes across the globe.

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Making more strawberry jam.

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(seems I give it away almost as fast as I make it…or eat it!)

 Hitting a few yard sales. Picked up this great rattan chair.

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 (One of the cats thinks we bought it just for her)

Planning a trip to Idaho via Yellowstone and the Tetons later this month. (Did I say road trip?)

 Heading to Big Bear Lake in the local mountains for a 3 day camping trip.

(No campfires allowed due to the drought and high fire danger)

 Catching up on some housework

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 with a little help.

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 And summer has only just begun!

All is quiet on the home front

I suppose it happens to the best of writers, the novice writers, bloggers, and just about anyone else that writes. Now It has happened to me. I have nothing to write about.

I stare at the blank page and try to think of something interesting to say. Unlike  Gwendoline, excited about an actual book she is having published, I cannot even seem to complete an actual post much less an entire book! With my very generic name-mommermom-I could write about anything really. I was going to update my cheesy-zucchini-rice. Getting all excited about sharing it, I took pictures and wrote down the changes but then it hardly seemed worth mentioning in a full post. If I were a more confident seamstress I could post another sewing tutorial or offer an update on the project I am currently working on-sewing 150 of my zippered bags.

wpid-20150605_080640.jpgIf I were a true gardening blog, I would tell you marvelous stories about our little garden and how exciting it is to cook up some fresh zucchini.

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(which I may still do as the garden yields more veggies). Sarah over at Coffee to Compost helps to keep me motivated.

I could share the sad saga of our cat,

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that we had put down after 16 years of being a faithful and beloved pet. There has been no vacation this year as we stayed home and nursed our ailing Kitty Boy until the end.

If I were a great photographer like Two Trails One Road ,  I might share some amazing photos.  I could post about the weather (again) but with all the heartache, flooding, and weather related tragedies going on in so many places, it seems a little shallow to talk about the May gray that is now turned into June gloom.

I take time to read many blogs and have chuckled to wonder what happened to Marlene’s grinder  or the next gorgeous painting taking shape over at The Contented Crafter, what adorable sewing projects Scooby or Sewlovable have stitched up or delightful recipes Rosemarie’s Kitchen has shared. Masgautsen might have taken another delightful trip or an enjoyable long weekend. She always seems to have such fun.  Lani recently got back from a beautiful Hawaiian vacation and I envy how comfortable she is in far away lands! I could tout the joy of retirement (which only gets better) but that can soon become an old topic for those who have been at it awhile or those who get up early to head off to work. Colin is no longer tramping in the woods but has moved on with an exciting new blog and Stonecrop Sister is also making changes to her blog. I too would like to make changes but am at somewhat of a loss as to the more technical aspects of WordPress.

Actually, life is good. Thommmee, 12 grandchildren, 6 grown kids, our large family, wonderful friends, church activities, gardening, sewing, cooking, catching up with many more blogs, and life in general keep me plenty busy! I have even started reading again.

Right now…

I just don’t seem to have much to say…