Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Make Your Own Mayo... and Ranch Dip

When I did the Whole30 last year... me and Mike were pretty much on our own. We had to find recipes and meal ideas without help. Well, other than google help. We found that we were eating the same few meals over and over and over and it just got really old and by the time we hit day 31 we were just ready for some different food!

This time is different though. I have a small, online support group and they have been very generous about sharing recipes and answering my food questions.

Something you should know about me...

I hate cooking.
I hate the kitchen.
I had a lot of questions!

Thankfully Mike has been a huge help and has done the majority of the cooking. We kind of have an unspoken deal... I find meals and shop if he cooks the food.

Anyways... one of the things I learned this time around is how to make my own mayo. And let me just tell you... It. Is. EASY! And if I say it is easy then it really truly is because I have another unspoken deal when it comes to the kitchen... if it's not easy I don't do it!

Seriously though... this mayo takes about two minutes to make and while it's not Miracle Whip it IS yummy! I've used it for many things... put it on a burger (even though I haven't been having burger buns), deviled eggs, just mixed some mayo and salsa up and put it on some tuna, and I now make my own ranch dip using the mayo that I make.

Who am I!?!?!

So how do you learn to make this super-easy-only-takes-two-minutes mayo?

CLICK THIS LINK!!

All the step-by-step directions are there and if you don't have an immersion blender then just go to Walmart and spend the $15 to get one. It's worth it. I even used the thing to mix up my laundry detergent after it gelled and it made the whole process of making it so much easier.

But I'm off track. We are talking about food... not laundry.

After I make the mayo I also like to make some ranch dip for my carrots. This also is really REALLY simple. And it's good! If you invite me to a party any time soon I will likely bring a veggie tray with my dip so that I have something to eat and you will all say "Wow! This dip is really good! Where did you get it?" And I will say "I made it" and everyone will think I'm awesome.

(I'm in a weird mood today.)

RANCH DIP
1 cup of the mayo you just made
1/2 tsp dill
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder

That's it! Two yummy, whole30 compliant food items in a super short amount of time!

Go make some!!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Discipline

I have never been one to make New Year's Resolutions or have a "word of the year" but I have a feeling that without even realizing it DISCIPLINE will become my focus this year.

discipline

/ˈdɪsɪplɪn/
noun
1. training or conditions imposed for the improvement of physical powers, self-control, etc
 
Yesterday I shared about Financial Peace and quoted Dave Ramsey. He said,
 
I don't like discipline - but I love what discipline produces.  

I'm working on regaining some discipline in my finances but I have also set out on a journey to regain discipline when it comes to food. Just after Christmas I began the Whole30. I did it last year and had great results. I wish I would have stuck with it... or at least much closer to it than I did. Today is day 29 of my Whole30. 

The quick explanation of Whole30 is that it is a 30 day detox, reset. Get all the junk out of your body so that you can reintroduce some foods, find out what affects you negatively and come up with a good eating plan for life. 

I'm tired of being ruled by food.
I'm tired of always feeling gross and bloated.
I'm tired of my clothes not fitting.
I'm tired of being addicted. 

Tomorrow marks 30 days of fruits, veggies, nuts, meat and eggs. 
30 days of no sugar, no grains, no dairy, no legumes... no a lot of things. I miss some of those things... but not as much as I thought I would. I have learned to cook differently. I've had a great support group and Mike has been doing it with me (and doing most of the cooking!) and with the help of others, I have found a lot of recipes and haven't felt deprived. I have been eating a lot and eating well. I am full. 

Sometimes I think gosh, dessert would be great right now. But then I realize I only think that because that is an old habit. Change takes time. I need to reprogram my mind when it comes to food. Whole30 was a great step toward reprogramming my mind. 

This time... I don't want to give up the progress I have made. I want to keep going. Last time I did the Whole30 I was talking with my kids about it and how I should just keep going and Jason said something along the lines of
Yeah! You should just make it Whole LIFE!
He's right. Whole30 is a great start... but the goal is to use it to help you make a plan that you can carry out for your Whole Life.
 
I'll be spending the next two weeks reintroducing foods from the "no list" and paying attention to how I feel after eating those foods. I'm at a place where I am ready to give up foods I love in order to feel good. I'm ready to be in control of food instead of food being in control of me.
 
It will take discipline... and lots of it... but the results will be worth it!
 
 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Financial Peace

About ten years ago we took Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University. The class costs $100 and it is absolutely the best investment we have ever made. In fact, it was so good for us that we decided to take it again.

Last week we joined a group of people from our church and began Financial Peace University for the second time. We decided to go through it again to get us back on track. It's not that we totally slacked off and went back to having debt. We didn't. But it's kind of like dieting... you start out real strong. You change your ways and your habits. But little by little over the years you slack off here and there... and before you know it you are well on your way to the place you had previously dug yourself out of.

That's what was happening with our finances and we wanted to tighten things up again so that we can pay off our house more quickly and build our retirement and college funds for the kids... and maybe one of these years fit in a good family vacation instead of a weekend trip.

While at the first class, during the teaching video, Dave Ramsey said something about how every ten years you will experience at least one financial crisis. In my mind I thought "Hmmm... we haven't."

And then I had a DUH moment because I realized that last year Mike did not qualify for unemployment and we had months to go before he was back to roofing. That's a financial crisis right??

Well it could have been! But it wasn't. My mind did not register it as a total crisis.

We were financially prepared for something to go wrong. Baby Step 3 in Financial Peace is to build a 3-6  month emergency fund. We had that in the bank and therefore knew we would be ok. We had enough money to get through the winter, but we ended up using very little of the emergency fund. Mike started delivering pizza and working at the church. I had offered scarf parties (I made those up) and was making money through those and my crochet business. (Wix-Works)

We managed to get by and still have a good portion of our savings intact... and I didn't need to panic through a crisis. That is financial peace.

It wasn't easy with all our weird work hours... but it could have been so much worse had we not been prepared!!

I am sooooo thankful for Dave Ramsey and his teachings on finances. He is extremely motivational and his teachings have kept us on the right path over the years. In his book Complete Guide to Money Dave says, "I don't like discipline - but I love what discipline produces." I agree! I hate that I have to practice discipline... but I'm willing to do it because I love the end results!

**********

If Financial Peace sounds like something you need you can CLICK HERE and change the location to be yours to see if there are any classes being offered in your area.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

12 Years

Holy cow you guys!

I've been married for TWELVE YEARS! That must mean that I am getting old.

Twelve years...

Some of the years were good, some were great and some were straight up awful.

The honest side of me insists that I tell you that the past two years... I didn't celebrate my anniversary. The past two years were kinda sorta miserable. The past two years had me thinking that all those people who tried to talk Mike out of marrying me were going to have a reason to say "I told you so."

But I'm not a quitter... and thankfully Mike isn't either!

We are still here and we are ready to actually celebrate this year!

This year... the end of the twelfth year of marriage... we celebrate
*making it.
*not quitting.
*surviving.
*honoring our commitment of "till death".
*change and growth.
*LIKING each other again.
*sticking together even when we didn't want to.
*still being an "us".

We don't have any plans for today because we didn't have a sitter. But we will be taking a weekend just for us in February. I'm looking forward to it!


In twelve years we have gone from this...

wedding 1

to this...

003

It's been hard... but it has also been worth it. :)

Friday, January 23, 2015

Contentment


noun
1. the state of being contented; satisfaction; ease of mind. 
 
Synonym... happiness.
 
 
During the summer I had ideas of what I thought my days would be like once the kids were both in school again. I thought my days would be relaxing. Laid back. Easy. Peaceful.
 
That didn't happen.
 
For the first two weeks I was a little bit lost. I didn't know what to do with myself or my time. But then life got busy. My days started filling up with things and I wondered where the time went. I had a lot of work and a lot of projects that ate up my days. I had meetings and things to do.

What I didn't have time for was the things that I wanted to have time for... reading, writing, hobbies... rest.

And then the school consolidation stuff entered my life and made it even more hectic and crazy. (And continues to do so.)

But in the past few weeks I have found myself settling... settling to a place of peace and contentment. Even in the midst of all the craziness I still have calm. Even though my life is far from perfect and there are hurtful situations that show up all the time... I am still happy.

I'm not quite sure how I found my way to this place of contentment but I sure do like it. I like the peace... the calm... the rest. I like that even when things go wrong my world doesn't get flipped upside down. I like that I know who I am and where I belong.

During the past few years the storms of life have been big. I often felt like I was getting sucked into a whirlpool and just using every last bit of energy to fight for one more breath. There are days where I still have to fight for my happiness and contentment to remain... but it's a wonderful feeling to be able to just breath normally again. 

I don't ever want to lose this feeling of contentment.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

I Only Spent 2 Bucks On Laundry Detergent Last Year

And yes, I did wash  my clothes plenty!

A few years ago I had a friend share about making your own laundry detergent. After we bought our house and I had plenty of room to keep a five gallon bucket of laundry soap I figured I might as well give it a try and I've been making my own laundry detergent for about two years now.

The best part is that it is cheap and easy!

The first time I made it the cost was more because I had to buy all the ingredients and a bucket. But I just made my fourth batch of it and am still using those ingredients that I bought the first time. The only thing I had to purchase to make my two batches last year was a bar of Fels-Naptha soap each time. A batch of laundry detergent makes about ten gallons and lasts me at least 6 months.

Are you wondering how to make this laundry detergent???
I'll share the recipe that my friend gave me. I have no idea where it originated but I do know that it works!! (Found out that my friend who shared the detergent recipe with me learned about it from the Duggars.)



HOMEMADE LAUNDRY DETERGENT

4 Cups - hot tap water
1 Fels-Naptha soap bar*
1 Cup - Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda**
½ Cup Borax

Directions:
-Grate bar of soap and add to saucepan with water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.
-Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of hot tap water. Add melted soap, washing soda and Borax. Stir well until all powder is dissolved.
-Fill bucket to top with more hot water. Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken.
-Stir (I use a hand blender because it is thick and tough to do with just a spoon) and fill a used, clean, laundry soap dispenser (gallon jug works great!) half full with soap and then fill rest of way with water. Shake before each use. (will gel)

-Optional: You can add 10-15 drops of essential oil per 2 gallons. Add once soap has cooled. Ideas: lavender, rosemary, tea tree oil.
-Yield: Liquid soap recipe makes 10 gallons.
-Top Load Machine- 5/8 Cup per load (Approx. 180 loads) -Front Load Machines- ¼ Cup per load (Approx. 640 loads)




*Visit the Fels-Naptha website to find a store in your area that carries the product.
**Arm & Hammer "Super Washing Soda" - in some stores or may be purchased online at Meijer.com. Baking Soda will not work, nor will Arm & Hammer Detergent - It must be sodium carbonate!!


There ya go! Easy peasy!
Have you ever made your own laundry detergent?
Do you think you might give this a try?


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Unbroken, The Hundred Foot Journey and Big Hero 6

Last year my main reading list consisted of books that were being turned into movies. I read some really good books and some that weren't so good. And there were several that I started but never really got into so I didn't finish them. I've been enjoying seeing many of those books as movies now.

Unbroken was one of them. The book by Laura Hillenbrand is easily one of my favorite books ever. I read it early last year and had to wait MONTHS to see the movie. It came out on Christmas Day but I didn't get to the theater until New Years Day.

Unbroken is an excellent movie! It is very true to the book and often had me in tears. I still recommend that you read the book first because there were a lot of times where I was thankful I had read it just because it gave me more depth of the feelings and emotions behind everything. The book definitely made me FEEL a lot more than the movie. But the movie is still worth seeing!

**********


The Hundred Foot Journey was one of the books I tried to read but just couldn't get into. There was so much about food and reading about food just isn't exciting for me. But the movie!!! I. LOVED it! It was cute. It was clean. The characters were great. And the story was nice... and fun. I would watch it again! I would recommend this movie to my mom. (Hey Mom! You would like this movie!)

**********

The kids didn't  have school on Monday and Tuesday and I knew that if we didn't break things up by getting out of the house that we would all go very nuts with a four day weekend. We have a theater not too far away that is really nice and if you go to the early shows it's only $5.25/person. So I took Liza and Jason and two of their friends to see Big Hero 6.

I had no idea what to expect from this movie. The review on pluggedin.com was good and the children's librarian from our public library said it was really good so we figured why not give it a try. Big Hero 6 was so good! We all loved it and I can't wait for Mike to see it too. We will buy this one for the family and I am sure we will watch it again and again and again.

**********

Have you seen any good movies lately?


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Sneak Reading

Liza and Jason have not been lovers of reading. It's always been a struggle to get them to read beyond the things that they have to read for school.

Then this whole school consolidation mess started. The plan that they want to push forward and have ready by next year closes our school and moves the students from our school to two different ones. I'm pretty sure that our school rates lowest academically out of the eleven elementary schools in our district and one of the ones we could end up at is probably ranked number 1. I have a feeling that there is going to be a huge learning gap between the two schools and therefore I have decided that I need to do the extra work now so that if we end up at the number one school my kids aren't too far behind and have an easier time catching up.

The problem is HOW to go about doing that when my kids just aren't interested. (And who knows! The gap may not be big at all but extra work right now isn't going to hurt.)

Over Christmas break I insisted that Liza bring home a chapter book from school and read it. One night after tucking them in I went back upstairs and found her quickly tucking the book away and pretending she was just laying in bed trying to fall asleep. She had been trying to read by the light of the hallway. I told her to put the book away and go to bed.

And then I realized that was a dumb thing to do. So the next day I told Liza and Jason that they could "sneak read" every night if they wanted to. We went to the library and grabbed a bunch of books that Jason would be able to read and then we found a few chapter books for Liza. I made sure they each had a flashlight in their rooms and now they sneak read every night.

In just a few short weeks Liza has become a lover of reading. She told me the other day that she thinks she has the reading fever and she had to stay up to finish a book the night before because she just HAD to know what happened!

Jason grabs a book every night on his way up to his room and he tells me in the morning about how AWESOME it was. His confidence in reading has grown so much.

I'm pretty sure that "sneak reading" is one of my most genius parenting ideas yet. The kids get excited about it and feel like they are getting away with something and my job of helping them to become better readers has been made extremely simple.

And the best part of all... there is absolutely nothing sneaky about it since I told them to do it and they often tell me on their way to bed "I'm going to sneak read this book tonight!"


001

002



Monday, January 19, 2015

Brain Block

I'm still here... but I'm pretty sure my brain isn't.

I've wanted to write but every time I try nothing seems to come out. Or at least it doesn't come out well. My brain is mush. Constantly scattered. Consumed with the topic of school consolidation. Consumed with unanswered questions. Consumed with frustration because of the unanswered questions. I could write about that for hours but I doubt my readers care THAT MUCH about my school district. (And that's ok!) I just wish I knew where my kids would be going to school next year... you know... since they are planning on closing the school across the street that we currently go to. My life is about to change. My neighborhood will change. My community will change.

It's tough. I go to bed thinking about it and I wake up thinking about it.

I need a vacation.

Speaking of vacations!!! I'm going to visit my bestest friend EVER at the end of February. We met on Myspace (ha!!!) probably about ten years ago. She lives in Louisiana. I've never been there. I can't wait to go and see her and meet her family and friends!! I'm just ecstatic that I have something to look forward to in the midst of my chaotic life!

Life has been weird and random lately. It's winter and we are stuck inside a lot. I've been doing a lot of reading and crocheting and watching Netflix. I've also been doing a little bit of knitting! I learned how to knit probably 13 years ago but never did much of it. I love the look if knit hats and wanted to give a go... so a few youtube videos, two trips to the craft store, one not so great hat and I figured it all out. Yesterday I finished up a really cute knit hat for Liza and I LOVE IT! I might be a little bit obsessed with knitting now. I thought it would be difficult to knit a hat but it wasn't difficult at all. Takes a little longer than crocheting but it's worth it.

I'm also doing the Whole30 again. I did it last January and January seems to be a good time to do it. After the holiday binging I always feel so bloated and gross so a detox is a good step. I wish I could find my energy... but the other benefits are still enough to keep me going. I have ten days to go till the detox is over but I plan to try and stick close to it. I want to really figure out this time around what foods affect me negatively. We'll see... I have a feeling I'll be needing to give up dairy. That makes me sad.

Well that's enough randomness for now. I have a few things in mind I hope to start writing about. Hopefully the brain block will go away. :)

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