Today’s Menu (01/18/12)

I started today by taking my daughter to the doctor.  By the end of the day, I’m pretty convinced that I have the same cold she has.  I did manage to do some exercise regardless though.

I thought the day’s eating went pretty well, but I was definitely hungry at lunch and nearly ravenous at dinner.  I’m not worrying about calories or even carbs right now; I’m making low-carb choices and trying to eat real food.  I’m happy with the results thusfar.

I almost didn’t exercise today because I’m feeling poorly, but at the last moment, I decided to start on the One Hundred Push-Ups protocol.  I’m doing “counter” push-ups (instead of wall push-ups) at the highest level.  I’m too weak to do anything else.  I can only eek out one “girl” push-up on the floor, so I’d rather get stronger before I start trying them on the floor.  It’ll be plenty good work for my “cartoon muscles”.

Breakfast:

  • mushrooms & onions cooked in olive oil with scrambled eggs
  • blackberries

Lunch:

Dinner:

  • bratwurst with peppers & onions
  • ruby red grapefruit
  • red grapes

Exercise:

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Today’s Menu (01/17/12)

I want to try and get back to posting my menus, especially since I’m trying something new.  (I know, I’m almost always trying something new.) This “something new” though runs along the lines of Dr. Jack Kruse’s Leptin Prescription.  Not grazing and exercising later rather earlier will be tough, but with planning, I know I can do it!

It doesn’t look like a lot of food today, but I was so exhausted that when I laid down to take a nap, I slept through lunch, so I decided to skip it.  If I feel too ravenous tonight, I’ll have a small bit of Chili Done Chernobyl-Style from last night’s supper.

Breakfast:

  • bacon
  • blackberries

Dinner:

  • chicken breast cooked in olive oil with red onion and Asian stir-fry veggie blend
  • ruby red grapefruit

Exercise:

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Transformation Day 2012: Update for 01/16/12

public domain image of a butterflyWeek 25 of my Transformation Day 2012 challenge is done, and I can definitely say that things got interesting!

I weighed 252.8 pounds this morning.  That’s 26 pounds in 25 weeks, and had it not been for the 7 pound vacation gain, those stats would likely be a bit better.  That’s OK though.  At least I’m being proactive!

I started exercising last week, and I plan to keep that up.  Right now, I’m just following some Leslie Sansone Walk Away the Pounds DVDs.  I love her stuff because they’re fun and easy to follow for uncoordinated folks like myself.  Lately, I’ve been using the Walk Away the Pounds Power Mile without weights.  When that gets too easy, I’ll add weights.  When that gets too easy, I’ll move on to a harder DVD.

I also experienced another interesting change last week.  For now, I’m not taking my blood pressure meds because I fainted last week.  I’ve never fainted before, and I have to tell you that I hope I never repeat that experience again! It was really quite horrible! I exercised on Tuesday evening, and I probably didn’t have adequate time to hydrate before bed.  At about 4:20 on Wednesday morning, I woke up to a Charlie horse.  I didn’t think much of it (other than, “Man, this HURTS!”), and after rubbing my calf, I got up to use the restroom.  I remember finishing my business.  I remember standing up and taking at least one step.  After that though, the next thing I remember was waking up on the floor, not knowing where I was with my husband asking me, “Sarah, did you fall?”

Last October when I started the blood pressure meds, I had scheduled a 3-month follow-up appointment for today, actually.  Since I’d never fainted before though, I called the office and they told me to stop my blood pressure meds until I was able to come in and talk to the doc today.  MOST of the time, my blood pressure has been OK, but now I’m back to noticing all the irregular heart rhythms, and even without the blood pressure meds, I nearly fainted again at Wal-Mart this weekend.  Good thing I’m going to the doctor so I don’t have to self-diagnose. 🙂

Getting healthy is a complex process.  There are so many facets to something that seems so simple.  I’m determined though, and as always, you’ll all find me pressing forward rather than hanging back! Keep on keepin’ on, and as always, remember that what you do matters!

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Gluten-Free Coconut “Shortcakes”

photo of shortcakes in the panI enjoy these “shortcakes” made in muffin cups with mixed berries.  They’re even wonderful plain!

Ingredients:

  • 6 T coconut flour
  • 2 T golden flaxseed meal
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/4 t sea salt
  • sweetener equivalent to 3/4 c sugar (I like stevia.)
  • 6 T virgin coconut oil, melted
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 2 T coconut milk

Procedure:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Prepare a 12-cup muffin pan by using liners or greasing the pan liberally.
  2. Sift together coconut flour, sea salt, and baking powder.  Set aside.
  3. Combine melted coconut oil, eggs, coconut milk, vanilla, and sweetener of choice in a medium bowl until well-blended.  Stir in dry ingredients.
  4. Spoon batter into muffin cups.  Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes.
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Gluten-Free Garlic Cheddar Drop Biscuits

image of gluten-free garlic cheddar biscuits on parchment paperGreat garlic flavor, tender on the inside, and crispy on the outside, these biscuits are a great addition to your favorite low-carb or paleo+dairy meals!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c + 2 T coconut flour
  • 1 T granulated garlic
  • 1/4 t sea salt
  • 1 pinch black pepper
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 1/2 c shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese

Procedure:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Sift together coconut flour, garlic powder, sea salt, pepper, and baking powder.  Set aside.
  3. Combine melted butter and eggs in a medium bowl until well-blended.  Stir in dry ingredients.  Fold in shredded cheese.
  4. Drop dough by large spoonfuls onto parchment-lined baking sheet.  Bake in the preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes.
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Transformation Day 2012: Update for 01/09/12

public domain image of a butterflyWith week 24 of my Transformation Day 2012 challenge behind me, I feel like I’m back on track.  Things aren’t perfect, but things are peaceful again.  A girl can’t argue with that, right?

Last week, I dropped 3.4 pounds of the 7 that I’d gained while on vacation in Florida.  That puts me at 254 pounds which means I’ve lost 23.8 pounds in 24 weeks.  (If you haven’t yet figured it out with me, my weight is all over the place, even when I’m doing well.) While it’s certainly a step in the right direction, I still feel like I’m retaining a lot of water; I even had swollen feet and legs two different times last week.  I hadn’t experienced that (that I can recall) since going on blood pressure meds back in October.

I’m excited about a little brain child I hatched last week.  I’m going to plant some salad green indoors, probably this week, and I’m hoping that it’ll work out.  I have a HUGE window in my family room with lots of great southern exposure, so I’m going to see if plants will actually grow there without grow lights.  If that works, I know where I’ll be starting plants for my garden this year! (I’ll document the project on my blog, of course!)

I don’t know if you folks have noticed — Lord knows I talk about it a good deal — but food is getting more expensive by the week, it seems.  I’ve heard several folks suggest that it has more to do with inflation and less to do with commodities prices.  Regardless of the cause, it’s hard to get healthy when “healthy” food doesn’t usually have big lobbyists behind it.  I’m not saying I like lobbyists, you understand, but I do realize that they’re a big part of the reason why our food “pyramid” or “plate” or whatever garbage we have right now is based on “healthy whole grains”.  The grain and sugar folks run the USDA and FDA because they all have a lot more to loose than a tomato or pepper or salad greens growers.

As I often say, what we eat is a survival topic.  Getting ourselves and our families healthy is a survival topic.  I know I seem more focused on this aspect of our preparedness right now, but if I can’t get healthy, we’ll be seeing our own SHTF scenario.  Getting healthy and working on food storage, food production, and the like,are probably the two most important aspects of prepping as far as I’m concerned.  After all, if we don’t live to help our families, what good are all the bullets and Band-Aids? Inheritance, perhaps?

It’s the first part of the year when everyone is focusing on their New Year’s resolutions.  I hope that I can inspire folks to think seriously about where they want to go in 2012 and then make a difference today! If you’re not trying to go forward, you’re falling behind! What you do for you and your family matters; you just have to DO IT! One foot in front of the other, right?

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Pumpkin Custard

Yet another pumpkin recipe.  Make no mistake.  We love pumpkin, and this custard makes a nice dessert or a very satisfying breakfast treat.

Ingredients:

  • 15-oz can pure pumpkin
  • 3 large eggs
  • 13.5-oz can coconut milk
  • 1/4 t sea salt
  • 2 t pumpkin pie spice
  • sweetener equivalent to 3/4 c sugar (I use 12 drops of EZ-Sweetz and 6 packets of Truvia.)
  • 1 t pure vanilla extract

Procedure:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Use coconut oil to grease a 9″ deep dish pie plate.
  2. Place all ingredients in a medium bowl and beat with a fork, wire whip, or electric mixer until just blended.
  3. Pour mixture into prepared pie dish and bake for 15 minutes.  Then turn the oven temperature down to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and continue baking the custard for another 45 to 50 minutes.  Allow the custard to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.
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Making the Most of Your Living Space: A Prepper’s Perspective

simple house clipartWhen my family moved to a new city in 2004, we didn’t need a lot of room.  At that time, it was just me, my husband, our 2-year-old daughter, and our pets.  Considering we’d come from a 600-square-foot duplex that didn’t even have enough room for a kitchen table, our new home felt palatial — at first.

See, I didn’t know it when we moved, but I was pregnant with my first son.  The home to which we’d moved was about 850 square feet with a partial, unfinished basement.  It had 3 bedrooms, but because of the poor layout and the fact that we needed an “office”, that home got cramped pretty quickly.

We started to look for a home of our own in 2006, and despite the fact that we made two different offers on two different properties, things didn’t pan out there.

I became pregnant with our third child in 2007, and the need for more space became a little more urgent.  We were stacked in that little house like cord wood!

Because we’d lived in such tight quarters for so long, I had a different perspective when it came to living space.  I had a friend who’d always tell me, “Well, can’t you do …?”, or, “Can’t you just put something …?”.  She always thought I was being difficult, I think, until she saw how I’d used every bit of space that we had.  The basement could have been better organized.  We could have found a lot more space there.  But the living space was as good as it was going to get.

In 2008, Columbus, Indiana experienced “The Great Flood of 2008”.  Hundreds were left homeless with nothing but the clothes on their backs; thousands were left to clean up the mess.  We even lost our hospital for several months, and in a city of around 40,000 people, this can cause some issues.  (It certainly did for us, but that’s another story for another post.)

Anyway, experiencing the devastation that this flood brought to my door step caused me to look at our preparedness in a completely new light, and it got me thinking, “Where am I going to store provisions in this tiny little house as I acquire them?”

Now that we live in over 2300 square feet, it’s a lot easier to find places for things.  It’s also a lot easier to keep junk (because you have the room to do so.) I thought I’d share some tips and tricks for those who’re dealing with a cramped living space but would like to store preparedness items (like food, water, fuel, firearms, camping items, clothing, etc.)

Consolidate and De-Clutter

So many folks are amazed at how much space they actually have once they’ve consolidated, organized, and de-cluttered their living space.  For instance, go into your kitchen and go through all the little storage containers that you have tossed into a cabinet.  Find all the containers that have matching lids, and recycle everything else.  It’s amazing how often we end up with stray containers with no lids or stray lids with no containers.  I remember the first time I went through an odds and ends cupboard and I was able to condense the contents into about 1/3 the space.

Also in the kitchen, do what you can to get down to only one catch-all drawer.  Even though I have a large kitchen here at home, I only have 3 drawers, so I don’t really have a catch-all drawer.  In the past though, I’ve had one catch-all drawer, one tableware drawer, and one drawer for knives and cooking utensils.

In bedrooms, clothes usually waste the most space.  Don’t keep clothing that’s too big for you.  By donating your “fat clothes”, you’ll be much less likely to let yourself gain enough weight to need a bigger size.  At least with us women, it’s easy to go buy smaller clothes, but it’s usually pretty traumatic to have to buy clothing that’s a size larger.

Also, I’ve found that Space Bags are invaluable when dealing with clothing, outerwear, and blankets.  Even here where I have plenty of space, I store seasonal clothes in Space Bags when they’re not in use.  In the summer, for instance, rather than cluttering our coat closet with loads of winter coats, snow pants, hats, gloves, and my husband’s Carhartt, I can pack everything into two enormous Space Bags and shove them under a bed or onto an out-of-the-way shelf somewhere.  I use the same tactic with throws and winter blankets, and I’ve even used Space Bags to pack clothing for the family into our winter car kit.

Using Vertical Space

It’s easy for us short folks to forget about vertical space, but it’s amazing what you can do if you see your space with a different eye.  I use a shoe rack that stores 18 pairs of shoes on the back of the door to my master bathroom.  Now, I don’t have 18 pairs of shoes — not even close — but I use some of the empty spots to hang jammies and towels.

Obviously, most people think of vertical space with their firearms, but people don’t always think like that when it comes to the kitchen.  In the kitchen, one can hang utencils, knives, skillets and frying pans, and even coffee mugs on the wall.  Think of adding shelving alongside cupboards, and you can get all sorts of stackable shelves that are meant to sit on your countertop so you can take advantage of the vertical space there.

Perhaps my favorite items that make good use of vertical space are the food storage and rotation systems from ShelfReliance.com.  These ingenious food storage systems let you store an insane amount of food in a very small foot print.  They make units that fit inside cupboards, and they make free-standing units that, when fully loaded, would likely weigh too much for certain parts of my home!

Also, when I lived in a smaller house, I used a cabinet that was meant to sit over the toilet so you could have more vertical space there.  Two supports sat on either side of the tank, and they supported a fairly large cabinet and shelf unit that allowed us to put extra toiletries, personal items, and other things someone might want to access in a bathroom.  It worked nicely, and we didn’t have to do any damage to walls at the rental to install it.

Think “Inconspicuous”

When we lived at the rental, we had things shoved in every useful space we could find.  While I hadn’t thought to shove canned goods or water under our beds, I did use that space for other useful purposes.  The same thing went for our living room.  We didn’t have a real couch; we had a futon.  I could fit all sorts of things in flat bins under that futon.  I also used every bit of space I could find in places that would otherwise be considered “wasted space”.  Don’t be afraid to think outside the closet!

Also, when space is at a premium, don’t waste space for the sake of aesthetics.  For instance, don’t put your broom and mop in a pantry just so it stays out of sight.  Fill your pantry with food, water, and the rest and hang your mop and broom on the back of a door somewhere.  If you have a lot of folks living in a small space, your home isn’t going to look like a museum.  You can absolutely keep things neat and tidy; you just won’t always have the luxury of keeping everything out of sight.

Like I said in the beginning though, when you’re trying to find new places to store items in a cramped living space, the most important first step is to actually go through what you have, consolidate, organize, and trash / donate.  Ask yourself, “When was the last time I used this?” And if it’s something that you haven’t used in ages and you don’t have an intense emotional attachment to it, then it has probably served its purpose for you.  Once you’ve done all this, the sense of security, satisfaction, and peace that you’ll feel is SO worth it!

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Where I’m Headed in 2012

Three days into 2012, it occurred to me that I ought to share my thoughts on where I’m headed, where my family is headed, and where the blog is headed this year.  There’s so much that I want to accomplish, and making a list is an important first step when it comes to reaching one’s goals.

In 2012, I’ll continue to work on my health, my weight, and my eating.  Having started the Transformation Day 2012 challenge back in July, staying on track shouldn’t be too hard (although I know there’ll be bumps along the way.) We’ll also get serious about our kids’ eating.  They don’t need junk, and we’re so much happier as a family without it!

From a prepping perspective, we have big plans this year.  We want to build a chicken tractor, and we want to get our first garden in the ground this year.  Also, we WILL get perennials in the ground that’ll live through the summer.  Feeding our family from our own property is important to my husband and me; we just have a huge learning curve.

We’ll continue improvements and repairs on our home that’ll save us money in the end.  More money means getting out of debt quicker, and that’s a good thing too!

I have really big plans for my blog.  Although I’m not sure how to implement everything yet, I intend to start podcasting this year.  With the help of my nine-year-old, I intend to produce YouTube videos, and there’ll be more photographs to accompany my blog posts.  Obviously, with my visual limitations, a nine-year-old’s photography will be better than mine, but we’re all fine with that!

To those folks who think little changes can’t make a difference, I say, “You’re wrong!” Baby steps can get you where you’re going; it just takes a little longer to get there.  And starting the journey, even if you’re taking baby steps, is much better than sitting on your backside and dreaming.  Dreams are fine, but they’re not always productive.  Be proactive! Take action! What you do matters!

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Transformation Day 2012: Update for 01/03/12

public domain image of a butterflyJanuary 1, 2012 wrapped up week 23 of my Transformation Day 2012 challenge.  As many of you have come to expect from me lately, this week’s update includes some bad news along side buckets of optimism!

Last week, my family and I spent the week in Panama City Beach, Florida.  Considering the temperatures here in Indiana stayed firmly in the darned-cold range, you can imagine how thrilled I was to spend some time on the beach (even though the water was about 60 degrees and the air temps ran in the low-to-mid 60s most days.) Although I got more exercise than usual — playing in the surf, walking in the sand, etc — my eating went to you-know-where in near-record time.

My husband and I planned for healthy eating.  After all, there’s nothing worse than being on vacation, wanting to enjoy the sites and the venue, and being paralyzed by the effects of sugar and grain.  We packed a cooler for the 700-mile drive.  We ate on-plan on the way down, and we had hoped for some “real food” by the time we arrived at the condo that first night.  Unfortunately though, it didn’t work out that way.  After being on the road for 13 hours, we drug ourselves upstairs to find a kitchen and pantry full of more sugar and grain than I’d seen in a long time.  Fred had some ham that Mom had fixed the day before, and I ate some Slim Jims and went to bed.  (I don’t like ham.)

The next morning, Mom was so sweet.  She fixed eggs for me and Fred, and after we’d gotten some coffee in us, we went over to Panama City to hit up Sam’s Club for real food.  We came back with a whole pile of ground beef, chicken breast, and frozen veggies.  I was so optimistic!

Wednesday was when it all started to unravel for me though.  There was so much junk food in the condo — candy, chips, pretzels, ice cream, Pop Tarts, homemade cookie bars — but the straw that broke the camel’s back were the donuts! My mom and my brother came back from an early-morning donut run with every kind of pastry you could imagine.  Worst of all though, they brought back two, large cheese danishes.  I was sunk!

I kept trying to start my days with good food choices, but by the end of each day, I found myself eating candy or ice cream or pastry.  Even my husband, who usually has few issues with food and cravings, ended up having some pretzels, a seven layer cookie, and some donuts.  He was treated to a migraine the next morning for his choices.

Under normal circumstances, when I’m well-seated in my low-carb eating, those items wouldn’t call to me.  In this situation though, I was bombarded with junk from every direction.  I couldn’t get away from it, and since I wasn’t existing in a no-fail environment, I failed.

Fortunately, it was a vacation.  And since last week’s vacation was only the third vacation I’d had in almost 12 years of marriage, there were definitely some unusual circumstances.  I won’t be dealing with those sorts of issues on a daily basis here in my home.  Still, I had no idea how hard it was going to be.

So the damage . . .

I weighed myself on 12/23/11 and I weighed 250.4 pounds.  When I stepped on the scale yesterday morning, I weighed 257.4 pounds.  This morning, I’d recovered slightly, weighing in at 256.2 pounds.  I know that I’m retaining a lot of water because I’m no longer fat-adapted.  I’m also experiencing a temperamental digestive system as a result of my bad food choices last week, so I know some of this weight will come off over the next week.  That being said though, I’ll still likely work for weeks to get back down under 250 pounds.  Losing weight can be simple, but it’s never easy.

With the passing of New Year’s Day, most folks have already made their New Year’s resolutions.  I don’t bother with New Year’s resolutions; making them feels like I’m setting myself up for failure.  Since we arrived home in the early hours of January 2 though, getting back into the swing of things essentially coincides with New Year’s Day.  I’m OK with that.  I’ve been working on this since July, and at my current pace, I’ll be working on it long past December 21, 2012.  I’m fine with that though.  I’m learning so much about myself along the way, and these lessons are sure to help things stick long-term.  I’m not discouraged; I’m simply educated.  Most importantly though, I’m back into the swing of things here at home.

I loved Panama City Beach.  I loved spending time with my family.  I loved sitting outside and just listening to the ocean.  More than all that though, I loved coming home.  We were so blessed to have that experience, and I’ll never forget it.  Again though, I couldn’t be more glad to come home!

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