Tuesday, August 21, 2012

practice makes perfect.

so i've been practicing the art of depending on Jesus to meet all of my needs, and boy is today ever a day for practicing getting better at this.

yesterday joyce meyer said, "if you want God to mature you, He will do that. if you want more patience, He's going to throw you into the most impatient situations. if you want more grace, He's going to put you in graceless situations. if you want more peace, He's going to put you in situations where peace is nowhere to be found!"

never a word has been truer.

as i said, i've been practicing depending on Jesus to meet my needs. as a Christian, this can be very difficult to do. the surprising thing is...many people expect Christians to automatically be able to do things such as have peace, be patient, and depend on Jesus Christ for everything.

but we must practice these things daily for them to be a habit. they dont always come so easily.

so, i've been praying for more opportunities to depend totally on Christ to meet my needs and not on my own ability.

well, today is my lucky day.

i woke up, everything was fine. house in order, girls asleep, husband safely at work. so i had my prayer in bed, like i do nearly every morning now (i do it between sleep and wakefulness, and surprisingly, it's one of the best times for me to feel Christ's comfort!). so i sit up, use the bathroom and hear a knock at the door. it's my friend. she visits me and we chat up a bit, and everything is good. she says, "do you smell gas burning?" i look in the kitchen, and yup, the stove is turned on, but the pilot hasn't caught, releasing gas fumes into the home. i lift the window, air out everything and everything is fine. i turn on the stove to cook the girls oatmeal for's nice and uneventful.

about an hour later my friend leaves, and i go to make myself some eggs. the stove doesn't turn on. then i go to check the other burners, nothing works. i turn on the oven...eek. it's black; the pilot light has gone out. panic sets in.

just then my husband calls. "husband!" i announce, with a little more panic than i intended, "i think our gas is turned off!"

he groans audibly. "check the dryer!" he says, a glimmer of hope in his voice.

i go upstairs, turn on the dryer and wait for it to start up while talking to him. after about 3 minutes, i don't hear the distinctive "click" and then whooshing, blowing noise indicating that the gas burner has caught to add heat to the machine.

"yup! they caught us!"

we both groan loudly, and my heart skips a beat. we always dread public service electric and gas "catching" us, or disconnecting one of our services. but because the bill is so high, pushing about 250-300.00 a month for both (nearly the price we pay in rent)'s always a stark thought in the back of our minds threatening to become reality at any nanosecond.

today it is reality.

this wouldn't make me "anxious" (i use the word lightly, i'll explain myself below) normally, because we'd just dig in our bill money, send off the 300.00 for the bill...and wait the few hours for the services to be restored.

but today, we have no bill money. so we have no money for service restoration.

enter anxiety stage left.

or better yet, enter what is *supposed* to be anxiety, stage left (but what has turned into some real peaceful living).

anyway, back to the story. it wouldn't be so bad, but our home is an electric and gas home. everything that we use that's not a small appliance uses both electricity and gas simultaneously to operate correctly. this includes our heating system, stove and dryer. so none of these things are in operable order now. if even my dryer was, i would just ride it out. that in and of itself is telling me that...

i must be learning to depend on Christ to meet my needs and get me out the messes we're in. this is because instead of being totally devastated that my gas is off, as i would've been in the past, i feel like a pioneer woman. we still have electricity, so our air conditioning unit is functioning perfectly. we have enough hot water for the next 2 days or so, and we do have an electric griddle to cook foods on, while our rice cooker and microwave are electric powered. things aren't too bad on my end.  in my mind, we'll just have to work this out until we're able to get the gas back on. it can't stay this way forever. i have this odd excitement in the pit of my belly about being able to do things the "old fashioned way", and i've become VERY creative with meals, making some of the best dishes we've had in a long time. it's like this is adventure time for me.

plus, we can depend on Christ to help us meet all of our needs. so there's no need to worry. this is my first time ever, feeling FULLY at peace with a situation like this. taking it day by day...i now understand the verse:

Psalm 55:22  Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.

for the first time in this situation, i am NOT moved! not worried, not anxious, actually i'm ENJOYING the situation!

unfortunately, my husband was more stressed out than i wanted him to be (althogh he has since calmed down and too put his trust in Jesus to get us through this!), but i remember being where he was. worried and anxious and stressing what i can't control. he was considering borrowing the money, but we already owe 500.00 to family members (that we're paying off) plus two credit cards. so "borrowing" more is out of the picture as far as i'm concerned. if we had no debt, it wouldn't be a problem. but borrowing another 300.00 would push us up to 800.00 to pay back--way too much.

im not happy with that idea, so we scrapped it.

the reason we even owe this bill sucks too. last month we ran into car trouble, so borrowed from peter (pseg for 2 months) to pay paul (the car). this month, it caught up to us. usually, we can skip a month or so of pseg payments and then just double up the following month, and they'll leave us alone. this time, no go! and with my husband's income, we don't have any wiggle room to get money from anywhere else. i could've used the girls schoolwear clothing allocation (250.00), but it must not have been meant to be because we went school shopping YESTERDAY and the gas was disconnected TODAY. we also could've just reneged on fixing the car and continued to walk, but we also just happened to pay the last installment to our mechanic yesterday for the car trouble, and the gas got disconnected today. what great timing, huh? we don't even have a savings plan, because we can't save anything, and actually are running into other bill trouble quickly on the horizon (our car insurance is due--and without that, our vehicle is out of commission).

anyway, i digress. none of it even matters. what matters is we still have what we need to be ok, the only difference is i have to take the girls uptown for their showers to grandmas house. hubby showers on his way home from work at his moms house already, so it works out perfectly.

we'll come up with something to get our bills under control. we always do. in the meantime in between time...God the Father is still on the throne! and for the first time  ever, i am totally basking and relaxing and feeling peace and total understanding in this lesson in not worrying, leaning on God through His Son Jesus Christ to meet my family's needs. it is AMAZING to say the least, and i am appreciating the experience.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

delicious string beans!

is it "string beans" or "stringed beans"? i'm not too sure. either way, this recipe is an absolutely delicious and easy one that i stumbled upon one day while frustrated with canned beans, and finding a lone pack of frozen beans in the back of the freezer just waiting to be experimented with. after this, i will NEVER go back to eating ANY string/ed beans out of a can again! these are so tasty that i'll make up a batch every now and again just to munch on when i'm hungry.  they are that good (and healthy for you too!) you will need:

1 bag of frozen string/ed beans

2 tbsp butter

salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste

in a sautee pan, OR a regular frying pan (which i use cus i'm not fancy) simply thaw out the beans over high heat and once the water is mostly evaporated, add butter. stir well to coat the beans with butter, and then add the seasonings to taste. cook until slightly crisp, about 5 minutes over high heat. serve immediately.

you can always cook the beans longer to make them crispier, or shorter to make them softer. i like a really crisp bite to mine so i actually cook mine until a few of them are overcooked (about 7 minutes in all on high heat), then i just blend them all well and serve. delicious!

Friday, August 3, 2012

sweet basil and my green thumb...

so, my green thumb has been accidentally triggered, and lately i'm itching to be a gardener. now, anyone who knows me knows that as much as i love plants, i kill them all within 6 months so it hasn't been my uhm...hobby to grow them. but, this past few weeks has me rethinking my assumptions about myself and willing to give gardening/growing indoor plants another try. where did this spontaneous interest come from? well i'm happy you asked!

first, i went to visit my cousin and saw that she has these absolutely beautiful bamboo plants, which i asked her to teach me how to care for them. she gave me some great pointers and some plant food to start off with. although i haven't found any bamboo plants to start with (usually the .99 cent stores around town carry them for .99 per stalk, but of course now that i'm interested in growing them from scratch no one has any!), i have been plotting on starting my very own bamboo garden as soon as i get my hands on some of the stalks.

in the meantime, i went out into the backyard, intending on dumping over one of the flower pots back there, to give away the pots, only to see that my basil plants from last year dropped seeds and resprouted for me this year! ive been super excited about having a fresh basil plant this year unexpectedly, but my "gardener" senses have been tingling since, and for the last 24 hours i've been trying to figure out how i can ensure that my basil plants grow again next year, this time on purpose. after consulting my green thumb mother and cousin, i've decided that simple is best. since i can't collect the seeds (because they're so small and i can barely see them), i'm just going to pull the plants when the season is over, dry them upside down (IN the flower pot), and when the stalks dry out totally and begin to break down (this winter), i'm going to sift the top layer of soil and then cover it all with a protective layer over the winter. better safe than sorry, and now that i'm on the hunt for my bamboo, i really want to ensure that my basil grows next year.

in addition to my basil, i purchased from the grocery store a full jade plant, which is beautiful. i do not have luck with jade plants but i'm going to give this one a real try. i also received from freecyle another jade plant and aloe plant, but after nearly killing them both, they're growing pretty slowly. after nearly doing them in though, my green thumb has learned a lesson or two and they're *slowly* coming back to life.

i also decided to snatch up some of my mothers iris seeds before my sister comes up to nj to bring her belongings back to her home in the south. i figure my mom has had these plants for a long time, and to be able to grow my own from hers is some sappy mother daughter love thing that will keep a bit of her with me every day. in the iris plant is a wild growing morning glory, which i love, so i took some of it by the root and planted it with the iris seeds, and i hope it too will catch for next spring and grow up the side of my home. she also gave me a pot of this really shallow *but beautiful) grass like plant that i've repotted in the bottom of a flower pot saucer in hopes that next year it will bloom fully and cover the saucer in a carpet like growth.

my little garden is just that *little* but i am so excited about it LOL. i feel like a new mom. i'm praying that i've planted everything right and it all takes root and next spring will give me a little garden in the city. and to think, all of this greatness started with just a bamboo idea and some accidentally sprouted sweet basil!

i'm probably going to be the martha stewart of plants at this rate! i can't wait...

Friday, June 29, 2012

it looked so good i had to take a picture!

today's lunch was a veggie burger with mozzarella cheese on a 100 calorie bun with a dab of ketchup, romaine lettuce, tomato and onion. i also had a drop of italian dressing on the side to sop up with my veggies. it was delicious. my only regret is that i didn't have another--altogether the entire meal was only 250 calories and after about 2 hours, i was hungry again. LOL. but it was good. i really love the morningstar farms veggie burgers simply because at bj's they are very affordable (9.99 for a box of i believe 20 burgers). i eat them for lunch maybe three times per week, and they are satisfying, even if digested pretty quickly. and for only 100 calories per patty, i don't feel cheated.

good news to report! i'm down 8 pounds in 2 months, 6 of those pounds can be attributed to me following the carbohydrate addict's diet (which i have tweaked some and it really works well for me). i refuse to sit around starting any new habits that are uncomfortable for me or long term "undoable", and this "diet" has proven to be the first one i've ever been on that does not feel like a diet AT ALL. so needless to say, i am very happy to have been blessed by learning about the diet.

now i just have to incorporate more exercise into my regimin and i believe i will be good to go. i have been searching but so far have not been able to find a dance video that is easy to do and fun on my cable network. i'll definitely keep looking though...i'm on a roll and don't want to stop!

Friday, June 8, 2012

if i knew then what i know now...

as a sufferer of hypothyroidism, ive been able to control most of the negative side effects that i have, but there's one that really bugs me, and for years i have not been able to control it...dry skin. my skin has been terribly dry for as long as i could remember, and sometimes it gets so bad that the skin on my face begins to get leathery, cracked and tender, and actually flakes away. it has been the worst, and i've tried over twenty products over the years to try and improve my skins condition. the issue with doing this however, has always been that you just in general have to be careful about what products you use--some of them can cause severe reactions, and worsen the condition. for about a year and a half (since ecobaby was born actually), ive been using lanolin for my terrible skin, figuring that if it could help cracked nipples from breastfeeding, it could help cracked skin from the dry winter weather and hypothyroidism. well i was right, to a point. the problem with the lanolin was that i had to apply it three times per day to have continuously soft and supple skin, it was thick and sticky to apply, and often left my face glossy looking for up to two hours, sometimes longer. but since it was the best option that i had, it was what i used. at least it somewhat controlled the flaking, and took away the itch. well! one day, while surfing the web, i just happened to come across an article explaining the way commercial lotions work. the article was so well written, and made quality lotions out to be heroes for people with extremely dry skin. it was a great article, but i was afraid to try out anything else other than my lanolin. fast forward two weeks later. i received in the mail a freebie packet that i had signed up for the month earlier. i had basically forgotten about the packet, and since it was a surprise packet, i wasnt sure what i was going to get (but me being the "if its free its for me" type, didnt mind the surprise). well lo and behold, the packet was full of facial care items, toiletries and lotions. so i took my chance and tried one by nivea.

it didnt melt my face off. also wasnt the absolute best. a few hours later, my face was dry and itchy. so i thought to myself, well nivea is top of the line and its not working for me, then there must be little hope for my face...little affordable hope anyway.

my face eventually got so tight, itchy and dry that i went to wash it and apply my lanolin...but i couldnt find it. ecobaby had gotten to it clearly, and thrown it somewhere. with a dry, tight, itching face i had no choice...

i ran into the bathroom, and slathered on my face the closest thing i husbands dial nutri skin lotion.

i brought these huge bottles of dial nutri skin lotion for .99 each at a super sale shop rite was having, and i had 2.00 off i racked up. and in over a year, had never used the stuff.

what in the world was wrong with me?!

this stuff IMMEDIATELY calmed my face down, IMMEDIATELY moisturized it, and IMMEDIATELY softened my skin. the next morning, my skin was STILL moisturized! it lasted through my sleep! i felt so good i didnt wash my face (dont judge me) until that night...and it wasnt until i washed my face that i needed a new application. so i generously applied it.

the next day, my flaky skin was gone. after about a week, i noticed that not only was my skin OBVIOUSLY improving in health and feel, but there were no adverse reactions. it has a light fresh scent, is non greasy/oily and is a pretty great deal at about 7.00 for a huge bottle (maybe 32 ounces?).

i officially fell in love.

now i use the stuff every day, all over my body, and cannot believe how clear my skin is getting, how much better it's feeling and how much better it looks. all the time the solution was right under my nose.

why didnt someone tell me about dial nutri skin lotion a year ago?! i could've saved myself some pretty painful days, but better late than never...this stuff is my new best friend!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

the carbohydrate addicts diet.

so, i picked up from my freecycle list, the book "the carbohydrate addicts diet", upon the recommendation of the freecycler that it may help me in my weight loss journey, as her husband has been able to keep 50 pounds off his frame for well over two years with it. so i thought i'd read it, and if it sounded feasible for me, give it a shot. why not?

the basis of the diet is changing around your eating habits so that you consume all carbs at night, therefore curbing hunger, overeating and fat storage by preventing carbohydrates from triggering the release of the hunger signaling chemical insulin. eventually the benefits of the diet lead to insulin being properly produced and used, less sugars in the blood, and weight loss and better health. i've read over 100 reviews about the diet and it seems possible and sound for many people, especially those who like me, have a dependency on carbs. it makes sense to me.

today was my second complete day of following the diet. i will admit, already the idea of no carbs for breakfast and lunch was a huge turnoff...which is probably just a testament to how utterly addicted to carbs i truly am. both days i had a bacon and egg breakfast with a cup of coffee (ok i cheated and added 1 tsp of sugar to my coffee) and a bottle of water to wash everything down with. the meal filled me for about two hours, and then i was getting really hungry again. but since i eat breakfast around 10am...i only had an extra hour to go until lunch, and it passed quickly.

at lunch today, i had a HUGE salad of lettuce, olives, red beets and 1/2 a tomato sliced. i added my usual amount of dressing (which was the standard serving size). i know cottage cheese has carbs, and the book says that as long as the carb amount is below 4g per meal, we can wing it. so wing it i did. i had about 1/3 a cup of cottage cheese with my salad, which was about 3g of carbs. and i topped it off with deli ham. it was delicious and actually filled me up. or maybe i was just that hungry (when im hungry liver tastes delicious). i drunk 2 more cups of water and felt pretty good. i was thinking of adding tuna to the mix, but since i had tuna and asparagus YESTERDAY, i didnt want to eat it again. too much tuna is really no good for anyone, with all the chemicals in the waters these days.

so anyway...i made it for another 2 hours or so, and then i was really getting hungry again. it's interesting how i can be really full, and then the food just seems to burn off instantaneously, leaving me feeling REALLY hungry. anyway...after another hour, i felt as if i hadn't eaten all day, so i made another salad...same exact way. so yeah, that gave me 6g of carbs for lunch. not too bad, it still only amounts to about 2% of the daily recommended intake. another 2 glasses of water...and i was held over just fine until dinner.

i have to interject here. technically, by eating the second salad, i broke the rule of strictly 3 meals a day. but reading the thyroid diet (you can purchase it here), i learned that (and tried and find that it works for me) people with hypothyroidism (me), should always eat at least 5, preferably 6, small meals per day. so i did not feel bad for tweaking that part of the book and eating the second salad.

so dinner came, and because my husband was late coming home today, dinner was not made. it was supposed to be fried fish, green salad and spanish rice, a dish that we absolutely love. since i cannot fry fish, it was up to him to do it...he came in too late so dinner plans crashed. tomorrow ill just bake the fish. anyway, that left me getting really hungry. so i decided to just make my favorite immediate fix--a good ole bowl of frosted flakes. i had the normal amount i eat, one full bowl. i topped it off with 2 cookies and a half glass of milk. because i didn't eat any fruit, i also chomped into a big ole wedge of delicious pineapple.

now, for those who dont know, i have a steel plated stomach. i can eat a myriad of foods in one sitting and not get sick. so pineapple, cereal, cookies, milk, seltzer water and olives all on the same plate is right up my alley.

i felt stuffed afterwards. this was at about 8pm. since the diet said to make sure to finish everything from the last meal within the hour, i did that, and felt pretty ok.

now, i'm slowly starting to feel myself get hungry again. eek! i know im going to break the one hour rule, just because i can't go to bed hungry.

as i see, im the person that cuts corners. due to my thyroid illness, i have to be careful with the way i eat. so i figured maybe (as many of the reviews i read suggest), that i could tweak the diet to fit my individual needs. instead of eating meat and fat all day, the idea is to eat my meat and eggs for breakfast, and once every few days, have a slice of low carb bread with it, and some butter, and maybe a touch of low sugar jelly. then to eat a huge thing of veggies for lunch, with lean meat, or seafood. this way, i am not depriving myself of my veggies for the day. then, when the evening comes, have my dinner early (this is easy because its summer), flesh it out really well, add at least 4 servings of fruit to it, have my regular meal and whatever goodies i want without the guilt. despite switching the meals so that carbs are always saved for the end of the day, i have to make sure i eat veggies and fruits too.

someone in one of the reviews said that she could not go absolutely with no carbs all day long, so she tweaked it to have a small serving of carbs for breakfast some days, and then none for lunch, and only a small serving for dinner on the days she had them for breakfast. on the days she has no carbs for breakfast, she treats herself liberally for dinner. she said this satisfies her way more and she's still maintaining her weight loss. so it can be an idea that if this works for me, i can have some tweaking too, with strict moderation, just to keep my thyroid at a healthy place. since there are some limitations to what i can eat anyway with thyroid issues, a menu is paramount daily.

also, the book has recipes for low carb breads, which are just fine to eat during the day. i find that in general, it's a great idea to REALLY start experimenting with recipes on this sort of lifestyle change. there are TONS of recipes that are low carb that people can eat for breakfast and lunch. and considering that most americans eat no fruits and veggies daily, it wont exactly kill them to hold off with eating certain veggies and some fruits until dinner.

i know two people personally (not including the freecycler who gave me the book) who have been on similar menu plans and it has worked for them. one person is an old college teacher, who lost 190 pounds on this exact diet, and has kept it off going on maybe 15 years now. the second person is my neighbor, who says she follows the diet and she feels alot better, at the recommendation of her doctor (who did not recommend the book, but recommended a similar style of eating--limiting carbs to 1 meal per day). she admitted to falling off the 1 carbie meal per day bandwagon, but is now considering trying it again).

this may not be such a bad idea for me.

my results are especially promising. between yesterday and today...ive lost 1.4 pounds. today was the lowest weight reading ive had in WEEKS. and i had to lose the weight because i weigh myself wearing the same thing daily, and the scale has never been so low. also, i immediately noticed that i have more energy. im not sluggish and i dont need naps during the day anymore. also, i know this is tmi...but im going to say it anyway. today my bowels moved the best they have in months. this is an immediate change.

the only downside is that i have to break up the strict 3 meals per day rule. i simply have been advised NOT to go that long between meals, it can wreak havoc on my metabolism. so i will not. still losing 1.5 pounds and cutting all of the corners i did yesterday sounds as if i can definitely tweak this diet.

i'm going to shop later this week for the ingredients to make the low carb bread, and im definitely going to search around for low carb recipes. i have to flesh out my breakfast and lunch more if this is something that may help me out. funny, but ive been praying for God to help me find the encouragement to cook and dibble dabble with recipes more. welp, here it is--the perfect reason to do just that.

i would have NEVER thought my carb intake could've been the cause of alot of my ill. here i am blaming my thyroid for the difficulties losing weight. but the more i think about it, the more i AM recognizing a correlation between my carb intake and weight gain, exhaustion after eating and yes, being hungry relatively quickly after eating.

i will definitely be reporting my progress with this dietary change regularly. with the way i'm going, i may even add a new label LOL. "dieting101" or something LOL. anyway, i'm just thankful to God for allowing freecycle to once again be the way to a blessing. even if this isnt exactly for me (and ill know within a few weeks if it is or not), ill never look at carbs the same, simply because of how good i feel.

any feedback about this diet, or others like that is appreciated....i'm definitely going to see where this road takes me!

Monday, June 4, 2012

martha, martha, martha!

so, i love martha stewart. well, let me correct myself. i have an ever growing admiration for martha that may be somewhat borderline obsessive. she definitely keeps me on my toes and encourages me to do my job as a stay at home mom as best i can: just two days ago, after reading the latest issue of her magazine (which i got for free via !!) and seeing a particularly pretty picture of some its-never-quite-as-easy-to-make-as-it-sounds-or-looks decoration she put in a window, i decided to clean my windows. now...granted, i only cleaned one (and got exhausted in the process), and it was the smallest window in my home (the kitchen window over the sink), but! i cleaned that window so well that martha would've certainly been proud of me. as a matter of fact, i cleaned that window so well that later in the day when i came downstairs and entered the kitchen, i got scared because i thought someone had lifted it up to break in! of course that hadn't actually happened, it was just so spotless that it LOOKED like the pane had been lifted. needless to say, my window certainly looks good enough to have a cameo in martha's awesome magazine with all of the other perfectly pictured windows.

my admiration for all things martha is growing at the speed of light. i've now found her show on tv, and i watch it in my morning lineup. she's funny, because her OCD always kicks in on her guests, but she's always very proper about it. i always giggle at and now look forward to her interrupting guests to move on to the next tidbit of info in her oh-so-martha way. i LOVE the way she always loads her guests up with freebies! i also got a recipe for a cake on the show. one that looked so easy to make and delicious when it was done that i'd wondered where i'd gone wrong at not learning how to bake from the womb. of course, i won't be making the cake, but she certainly made the baker in me stir, if only for five brief minutes.

one thing she did teach me, that i will be using from now on, is to think outside of the box, and to not be afraid to experiment (especially with foods--which im always terrified to do). the other day, i had crackers with cream cheese, ham and olives. that's something i would have NEVER thought to eat. but i tried it (thank you martha) and it was pretty good! im even considering experimenting with making homemade breads.

hmph. i am now a martha stewart fan. i have learned to make soil healthy, make no knead pizza dough, and how to make clam soup. whether or not i will ever put these things to regular use in my life remains to be a mystery, but i do feel like martha would certainly approves that i've learned.