Sunday, January 10, 2010

Goodbye

I will no longer continue to post on this blog for various reasons. However, the spiritual, physical, and charitiable work will continue. I encourage all of you to do the best you can in 2010!

Thanks to all the bloggers that have been so supportive and generous. I really enjoyed your company......online!

God bless you and your families. Good night.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Day 9: Emotional Challenges

Some days start on a sweet note and end up on a sour one. Tonight's reason for things going downhill, is of my own doing. I get so caught up in doing things "just right" that I forget about what really matters.

My husband bought tickets to a concert and instead of making him feel like I was thrilled about it, I brought up the "money issue." It wasn't that much money, but I was being a "budget nerd" and ruined his moment in the sun. The reality of it is, he would've never done that to me, but I did it to him, and hence hurt him. I am not feeling like the good and supportive wife right now.

So, with a sullen heart, I am still going to make my entry of the day, on my food intake and exercise, which at the moment does not feel that significant.......but here it is.


Breakfast: Creamy Oatmeal


Lunch: Spinach salad with tomatoes, bell peppers, and cubed turkey. I used 2 tbsps. of Italian Vinaigrette to top it off.



Dinner: Turkey burgers with steamed endamame beans and side of salad.
This turkey burger recipe from Real Simple Magazine is so tender and juicy. Must give it a try. We as a family prefer turkey burgers over beef these days. They are healthier and tastier and juicier.

3/4 lbs. of ground turkey
1 medium zucchini, grated
1 medium carrot, grated
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3/4 tsp. dried thyme
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 large egg
3 tbsps. olive oil

In a large bowl, combine the turkey, zucchini, carrot, garlic, thyme, salt, pepper, and egg. Form the mixture into 4 patties. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the patties, turning once, until no trace of pink remains, about 5 minutes per side.

Exercise: 60 jumping jacks
Have not done those since grade school and let me tell you its not as easy anymore. I had to stop and do two sets of 30.

Good night dear friends!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Day 8:

Wednesdays and Fridays are also fasting days in the Eastern Orthodox Faith. Wednesday was the day that the council gathered to betray Christ and Friday was the day that Christ suffered death for our salvation. I need to educate myself more on the actual fasting from my Spiritual Father. I did the best I knew how for today.

Breakfast

Lunch
Snack
Dinner


I have been reading and listening to the importance of GIVING with a happy heart. It's not how much you give, but rather how willing and joyful you are at the time of your giving.

It prompted me to research a charity online called, Blessings In A Backpack. Please take a second to click on link and view their mission. I noticed that only 1 school in all of Colorado has been sponsored and that needs to change. I am certain there are a ton of schools with impoverished families that can use a little extra help with eating for the day.

My church has a group of kind hearted and committed women called the Philoptochos. They gather once a month speaking about and putting into action fundraisers to aid the needy. From battered wives' shelters to orphanages to nursing homes. The list is endless. I joined forces with them years ago, when I was a mother of one child. I showed up religiously and was a part of most events.

The following year, I only showed up to 3 meetings and this past year NONE! I can use the excuse that I was busy or that I have three kids now, but so do the other members. The truth is I lost my incentive.

The first meeting of the year is Tuesday, and I intend on showing up and bringing up Blessings in a Backpack to them. I am going to use all my resources this year, to make THINGS happen. One cannot bring about change by simply thinking about it.

I love the following passage from James 2:14-16:
Of what benefit is it, my brothers, if a certain one says he has faith but he does not have works? That faith cannot save him, can it? If a brother or a sister is in a naked state and lacking the food sufficient for the day, yet certain one of YOU says to them: "Go in peace, keep warm and well fed," but YOU do not give them the necessities for (their) body, of what benefit is it?

I also ran into old but familiar faces today as well. It gave me hope of building on friendships this year that will enrich my life. Have you ever had an acquaintance that is always welcoming and generous, but never made the effort to get together? Why do we do that?

I feel myself more open this year to God's intention for me. It feels easier than expected and more rewarding.

Good night friends!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Day 7: Weighing In

I am One Year into growing my hair for Locks of Love. After my husband trimming my hair this morning, I realized it would take two more years to make a proper donation. The hair needs to be at least 10 inches long from one tip of the ponytail to the next. Virgin hair is most preferable, but permed or colored hair is acceptable. No highlighted hair.


January 22, 2009

August 12, 2009


January 7, 2010


This morning was another moment of truth......I weighed in for the first time since my January 1st entry.......The scale was not looking so black and white anymore. I lost close to 4 lbs. Yeah, for progress. Mostly water weight, I am certain, but at least its heading down. The best part of the entire progress thus far is, I am already feeling stronger and not as easily out of breath.

P.S. I need a pedicure!

I only had a cup of coffee for breakfast this morning, because I was in a rush to get to my hair appointment. They only come along once a year. I'm married to the hairdresser, what can I say? I am the last one to get some TLC for my hair.

For lunch, I ate another bowl of the yummy hot & sour 10 vegetable soup from yesterday. I love having leftovers and not needing to cook ALL the time.

I also snacked one 1 small piece of dark chocolate and a serving of tortilla chips with tomato salsa. I really had a craving for both. I feel it's important to address our cravings instead or suppressing them. If we address them in moderation, it keeps us "on the wagon" instead of pushing us "off the wagon."

Dinner: Shrimp scampi over fettuccine. My own last minute throw down. A little bit of butter, some garlic, lemon juice, shrimp, and parsley. I should have kept track of the amounts of each, but I was in a rush. Babysitting another child today, and so I did not have the luxury.

No time to work out either, but as soon as I get off the blog tonight, I will at least go do 25 sit ups. I am unable to call it a day, unless I have attempted an exercise. Movement. Any kind, as long as its within your means.

Have a good night sweet friends and remember the journey to good living has just begun.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Day 6: Snow & Soup

Today, was a cold and snowy day in Colorado.
Temperatures ranging between 4-10 degrees Fahrenheit. On days like today, it puts me in the mood for lots of................

...................................soup!

But first, I had breakfast. A cup of my Chai,
one egg (sunny side up), and an orange.

Lunch: My husband's chicken with homemade noodles soup.


After lunch, I needed to quickly bake a batch of OVER SIZED chocolate chip cookies, to mail to my Aunt Mary for her birthday on Sunday. Of course, I had to have one of those bad boys. The only comfort I had, was knowing they were made for someone else and I could not indulge in more than ONE! Plus, I am weighing in for the first time in A WEEK tomorrow, and since it's on my blog,
I need to "watch it." After diving into the first dessert this week, 1 cookie was surprisingly enough.

Cured my sweet tooth and on we go...........


Dinner: 10 Vegetable Vegetarian Hot-and-Sour Soup from one of my favorite Chinese cookbooks, called Susanna Foo Fresh Inspiration. This soup has it all. Spicy, a tad sour, earthy, and just a mouthful of fresh vegetables. After eating one bowl of this soup, I was full and very pleased.

Here's the recipe:


4 oz firm tofu
3 tbsps. soy sauce
3 tbsps. of rice wine vinegar
2 tsps. kosher salt
1 1/2-2 tsps. freshly ground white pepper
2 tsps. of cornstarch, mixed with 1/4 cup of water
8 cups of Vegetable Stock
2 tbsps. corn oil
1/4 cup thinly sliced shallots
2 jalapeno peppers, stemmed and chopped
1/2 cup diced (1/4 inch) peeled celery root
1/2 cup diced (1/4 inch) peeled parsnips
1/2 cup diced (1/4 inch) peeled carrots
10-12 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in warm water for 20 mins., drained, stemmed, and diced
1/2 cup diced (1/4 inch) Yukon Gold potatoes
1/2 cup diced (1/4 inch) zucchini
1/2 diced (1/4 inch) tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1 tsp. sesame oil
2 tbsps. finely chopped fresh cilantro

Rinse the tofu under cold water, then place on several layers of paper towels to drain for 10 minutes. With a sharp knife, cut the tofu into 1/2 inch dice.

Combine the soy sauce, vinegar, salt, white pepper, and cornstarch mixture in a large bowl and mix well. Stir in the stock.

Heat the oil in a large stockpot over high heat. Add the shallots and jalapeno peppers and cook, stirring, until the shallots are soft, 1-2 minutes. Add the celery root, parsnips, carrots, shiitakes, and potatoes, stir, and cook for 2 minutes to sear and coat the vegetables. Add the stock mixture and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low and simmer uncovered, for 20 minutes, or just until the vegetables are soft.

Add the tofu and zucchini and simmer for another 10 minutes, or until the zucchini is soft. Add the tomatoes and scallions, stir, and cook for 1 minute.

Ladle the soup into bowls, drizzle with the sesame oil, sprinkle with the cilantro, and serve.

After dinner, I dropped my son off at his Destination Imagination meeting, while I ran over to the gym for that hour and worked out on the bicycle. 30 minutes, 10.76 miles, and burned 150 calories......that's probably 1/2 the calories of those enormous cookies.

I will be weighing in tomorrow, so please join me to see the results. Have I done enough for the first week? Do I need to push harder next week? What difference have the first 7 days made?

I would also love to hear from anyone else out there that is trying to improve their life from the outside and in. What are some of your triumphs, tricks, or goals?

Good night sweet friends and see you tomorrow!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Day 5: Day of Fasting

I was baptized Romanian Orthodox, and today is the Eve of the "Theophany" (the divine manifestation, God's appearance among men)of Our Lord & Saviour Jesus Christ. In plain English, the Baptism of Christ and when the worship of the Trinity was made manifest.

In the Eastern Orthodox tradition, this is 1 of the 12 great holidays. On the Eve we are in a Strict Fast. Fasting in the Orthodox faith is abstaining from all meats, dairy, and fish. Besides food:

"True fasting is the estrangement from evil, temperance of tongue, abstinence of anger, separation from desires, slander, falsehood perjury. Privation of these is the true fasting."
Saint Basil the Great

For more info on Fasting or the Theophany click on the words for the links.

Growing up in Romania, I can reminisce the gravity of following the traditions of the Church, especially in my grandmother's small town. On days of fasting, you did not do any chores. The dishes could be out to the roof of the kitchen and you did not touch them. The women in town prepared the day before in order to focus on just praying, Church attendance, and alms giving on the fast days.

It gave me so much comfort growing around that and I still get comfort from the little ole' Greek yiayia's at my church too. I respect anyone that can devote themselves and their time unconditionally. There are many blessings in that.

In the modern world, we make room for ways that we can alter the Scriptures to accommodate our daily lives. So much so sometimes, that we venture out from what was truly intended. Like I said, I am not one to preach, but it does make me sad that we have such little time for worship and reading the Bible.

Today, I took my little girl to Church and enjoyed the service and choir. I have been snacking all day, so there are no recipes to post. I had black coffee for breakfast, almonds & a pear for lunch, and chips & salsa for dinner. My focus today, was to learn about when Christ appeared in the Jordan River, to sanctify the waters and baptize man with the Holy Spirit. God did all of that for the forgiveness of OUR sins. A means of healing & restoring our souls. And a means of getting closer to Him and following in His path.

I am used to people who either don't believe or of different faith, making remarks or criticizing. Christianity is easily defend able. It teaches love, tolerance, charity, patience, unity, forgiveness, and hope. It's not about judging.
God can judge for himself, he needs US to help each other along.

This year I am aiming for balance. Balance of spirit & body!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Day 4:

On this day, I was craving a sweet treat for breakfast.

I have been really well behaved for the past 3 days,
and did not eat dessert. I figured I deserved a bowl of
granola & honey flavored yogurt!



I made the granola from scratch....a first for me. It gave me one of those giddy feelings inside, when I came to the realization that I had control of the amount of nuts, cranberries, and apricots in my mix. I am always disappointed at the lack of goodies in my granola, when I purchase it from the store.



The recipe yields 4 servings, I made enough for 8.

Here's the recipe from William-Sonoma's Essentials of Breakfast & Brunch:

3 cups of rolled oats
1/4 cup each of walnuts & almonds, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup sesame oil
1/4 cup dried apricots
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large bowl, using a large spoon (I used my hands), mix together the oats, walnuts, almonds, and coconut. In a small bowl, stir together the maple syrup, vanilla, and sesame oil. Drizzle the maple syrup mixture over the oat mixture and stir to moisten evenly. Transfer the oat mixture to a rimmed baking sheet and spread in an even layer.

Bake, stirring every 7 minutes, until the oats just begin to turn golden, about 30 minutes. The granola should feel dry, rather than moist. It becomes crisp as it cools. Stir in the apricots and cranberries. Let cool on the baking sheet. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

I found a new Greek yogurt at the supermarket, that is cheaper. The only problem is it only comes in honey flavor. Fine by me for this purpose!

During the cooking process, my little rascally cat Ferris, wanted to play...............in the middle of my Christmas tree with the ornaments......sigh!

Lunch: Leftover turkey meatballs (no pasta) just meatballs, from yesterday's entry.

Dinner: Butter seared scallops (or as my kids call them "sea marshmallows") over a bed of arugula with lemon juice. So light before bed time and tasty too.

No time to go to the gym today......instead I seated my one 1 year old on my hip, and went up & down my basement stairs 20 times. I switched hips and she had a blast. I definitely got my heart rate up and my calves were feeling it too.

At the end of the evening, I hung up my "Inspiration" Board. Always wanted one of those magnetic/cork boards. I was so thrilled to finally treat myself. Reminders on one side and crafty projects on the other. I am in Heaven.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Day 3: The Spiritual Path

Breakfast: Hard boiled eggs over bed of arugula with tomatoes and Dijon vinaigrette. My own invention, although I am certain someone else came up with it, and I just have not read that book yet. For now, I claim all rights to this dish.

After breakfast, it was time to put on our Sunday best and head to church.

Without the spiritual life in place, everything else struggles to stand on its own.

Today, we made sure that we got all 5 of us dressed and out the door in time for Divine Liturgy. I am not one to preach, because I was not the most outstanding Christian last year either. I missed so many Sundays, missed confession all together, fasted only P/T and my center of peace was off-kilter. One of the vows I made for 2010, in "NO MORE EXCUSES". Get up and go and think about how tired I was this morning after service, not before. The thought of doing something is not as relevant as doing it.

My spiritual father spoke today of walking the straight path of Christ toward the narrow gate. It rang loud and clear. Yes, we stumble along that path, but we are not expected to be "perfect". We are however expected to try and by the grace of God be given the knowledge to know when we are failing.

On the way home, my husband told the kids they were expected to do their chores. My 4 year old adamantly said,
"No Dad, not today."


"Why not?"

"Because, Mom told us that God worked and worked for 6 days to put together our Earth, and today was the day he took off. So we need to rest."

What can I say, he paid attention....AMEN!

While the children & husband napped after church, I ran to the gym. Yes, ALL was possible today after all. Remember, NO EXCUSES..........worked on the treadmill for 30 minutes (1.5 miles and burned 121 calories). Following the treadmill I hit all the arm and leg machines, for repetitions of 10. I need to build my upper body strength to do the monkey bars.

Lunch: Cup of broccoli & leek soup from yesterday's entry.


Dinner: Mario Batali's AWESOME Turkey meatballs & pasta sauce over fettuccine. The most tender turkey meatballs. The kids gobbled it up too. And I treated myself to a glass of wine with my Italian dinner.

Here's the recipe for the meatballs:

2 lbs. ground turkey
2 1/2 cups breadcrumbs
1/2 cup milk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
1 tbsp. hot red pepper flakes
2 tbsps. salt
2 tbsps. freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit.

To make the meatballs, in a large bowl combine the turkey, bread crumbs, milk, eggs, garlic, rosemary, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper; and mix lightly with your hands until just combined. Form into golf ball-sized meatballs and place in a shallow casserole.

Roast the meatballs until dark golden brown, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven.

As a side note, you then reduce the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and add your tomato sauce (of your choice) to the meatballs. Place the casserole back in the oven for 1 hour.

All I can say is.........perfection. Love, love this recipe. Gracie signore Batali!

To end the evening, we watched Santa Buddies. The kids are fast asleep, as tomorrow is, back to school day. Today was a great day.

Good night sweet friends and see you tomorrow.


Saturday, January 2, 2010

Day 2: A Little More Routine

Today, my husband was back at work, which made my day seem a little more routine and challenging to get things done.

I did however sleep for 10 hours, which felt amazing. Made up for all the sleepless nights during the Holiday Festivities.



Breakfast: Oatmeal with blueberries and a drizzle of 100% Maple Syrup. I have convinced myself that the 100% Maple has to have more nutritional value than that Pancake Syrup stuff. Will need to do more research on that and let you know.

We ran a ton of errands today. We also visited the library. If you want a new way to work out, just place your 1 year old on the floor at the library, and then run back and forth putting books in their original place. Left me pretty breathless.



For the real workout today.....the hula hoop. I cannot keep that hoop around my waist longer than.....ooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh 10 seconds at a time. Do it over and over again for 30 minutes, and you got yourself a full Cardio.



I figure if the Belly Dancing workout is the new craze, this is pretty close. My new goal, outside of crossing the monkey bars, is keeping the hula around my waist for 3 minutes straight like.........................



..........who else? My multi-talented 6 year old. He's my idol. If I can keep up with my children, I will be in fantastic physical condition.



Lunch: Cream of broccoli & leek soup, inspired by The Oprah Magazine Cookbook. Delish! Here is the recipe:

1 lg bunch of broccoli
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 med leeks, white and light green part only, thinly sliced
1 med baking potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
3 cups of vegetable broth
Salt & White Pepper to taste
1/4 cup Fat Free Half & Half
1/4 cup of snipped chives

Separate broccoli stems from florets. Using a vegetable peeler, peel stems to remove tough outer layer, then slice into 1/4-inch-thick "coins". Break or cut the florets into small pieces. Reserve stems and florets separately.

In a medium saucepan, heat oil and butter over medium heat. Add leeks and cook, stirring often, until softened and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add 3 cups of water, broth, salt and pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover partially and simmer until broccoli and potato are tender, about 12 minutes.

Add florets; bring to a boil and then simmer 5 minutes. Transfer soup in batches to a blender or food processor, and puree until smooth. Return soup to saucepan; and half & half and chives, and reheat briefly.



Dinner: Salmon burgers on whole wheat buns with lettuce, tomatoes, and Dijon.

Did a couple more hula hoop rounds and called it a day! Good night sweet friends and see you tomorrow.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Day 1: Let The Good Living Begin

There it was, staring back at me in Black & White! 161.1 lbs. I am a 5'7" woman who weighs 161.1 lbs and wearing a size 12. No muscle & no energy. I usually eat well, but I do not "portion control". And my one biggest addiction, SUGAR!!



I will not say the word "diet" because I do not believe in any diet out there. I believe in hard work and common sense. I do not want to be a size 0, I want to be comfortable in my own skin and able to run up the stairs without going into cardiac arrest.

That's why I made the choice of portioning out my food....get rid of those 10" plates. I am eating on the small plates with my boys. And the common sense part, well, stay away from lots of bad fats and especially Drive Thru windows. As far as my "sugar addiction", I am allowing myself to indulge in dessert ONCE a week, and not the entire batch of cookies.



Breakfast: Two hard boiled eggs with a touch of Tabasco for flavor, yellow bell peppers & tomatoes with a drizzle of olive oil and salt. Still enjoyed my morning cup of coffee too.



Getting me to actually go to the gym is a task and a half and I know most of you feel my pain. I am going to start slow and do activities that bring me joy, for example, walking to the neighborhood park with Ethan & Lance. They were so excited to go with mom. Ethan rode his bike, while Lance jogged there. The park is 1/2 mile each way.



Ethan drew a picture of his mother in the snow.......he forgot to add those extra pounds to the "stick figure".



Lance wanted to play tic-tac-toe in the snow. We spent an hour at the park, swinging, sliding, attempting the monkey bars, chasing each other with snow balls, making snow angels, and just getting out quality time in as a family.



We arrived home and were famished. First we washed off!

Lunch: Linguine with spicy leek & tomato sauce. Lite and flavorful. One small bowl, no seconds. Enough to fill my belly.

As expected, I got a sugar craving after lunch, because it was ritual for me to eat sweets after a meal. What to do? What to do?
Snack on an apple....ok....that kept me busy for a few short minutes. Now what? I am STILL craving sugar.......I walked around my house trying to make the best choice possible, without ruining this on the first day. Aha! A piece of gum. I chewed that piece of gum until it was the stalest piece of gum ever. It did the trick.

We listened to some children's music, read "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer", did some squats with my one year old on my shoulders, played the game Trouble and before you knew it, it was dinnertime.



Dinner: Prosciutto-wrapped cod w/ lemony spinach from Food Everyday. I know I poke fun at Dear Martha, but I do cook her recipes. I also added a small serving of green beans....the more vegetables the merrier.

I will share the recipe with you because it was quick and yummy and filling.

4 skinless cod fillets (6 t0 8 oz. each)
4 thin slices of prosciutto
2 tbsps of olive oil
3 bunches of spinach
2 lemons, 1 juiced & 1 cut into wedges

Heat broiler, with rack set 4 inches from heat. Season cod with salt & pepper. Wrap one slice prosciutto around each fillet; rub with 1 teaspoon oil, and place, seam side down, on a broiler proof baking sheet. Broil until prosciutto is browned and fish is opaque throughout, 8-12 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium. Add as much spinach as will fit in skillet; season with salt and pepper. Cook tossing and adding more spinach as there is room, until wilted and tender, 4-6 mins. Sprinkle with lemon juice; toss to combine. Serve cod with spinach and lemon wedges.

Finished eating by 6PM and finished the night off with a cup of Green Tea. Before calling it a day, and what a great day it was, we had one more task at hand........................


"The Three Little Pigs."
One that went to the Bank, One that went to Charity, and One that went "wee wee" all the way to Dave & Busters.

Yes, we set up our, SAVE, SPEND, and CHARITY piggies as a family. We will all contribute to them throughout the month.

We are not assigning which Pig belongs to what category, because our boys will only contribute to the Spending Piglet. We will deposit equally across the board, whenever we have extra change in our pockets. On the last day of every month, we will open the piggies up and do the following:

SAVE: deposit in the kids bank accounts
SPEND: spend the money on a family activity (bowling, movies, golfing, etc.)
CHARITY: choose a different charity monthly to designate our funds to

I am off to bed dear friends. Part of being healthy is adequate zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz's and I need to get my 8 hours in. Good night and see you tomorrow.

Swap for Substance

In 2010, I will be swapping "Distractions" for "Substance".

Eating a lot less of this....................

........for a lot more of this!

I will be swapping a lot less of this...........

.......for a lot more of this!
Goal, is to make it across the monkey bars
by the end of this year, just like my 6 year old.


I will be watching a lot less of this.............


.........and listening a lot more to this!

I will be reading a lot less of this..........

.....for the true "Living" provided in this!


I will be using a lot less of this...........

....in order to deposit a lot more in this!

What will your swap for substance be in 2010?

Follow me this year to witness the difference!

HAPPY NEW YEAR & NEW LIVING!

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