Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Big Surprise

A Big Surprise!

Well, as all of my faithful readers know, my commitment to blogging has been a little sucky! I always have grand plans for blog entries, but they never seem to come to life! Most recently, I had great plans to blog about food and healthy eating and so on! Well, that is still my plan, the problem is, food hasn't exactly been my best friend for the past 15 weeks or so. I have been sick....really sick, like turning green at the drop of a hat sick.

Not to worry, I have been feeling a lot better the past few days! What's more, my little secret has been getting harder to hide.......



So here it is.....Preslee is going to be a BIG SISTER!!! Yep, around May 28 we will be welcoming baby number 2. We are excited, anxious and honestly, a little terrified about the idea of being responsible for another human. We are trying to enjoy every second with Preslee, work on her sharing skills and of course, tackle the potty training beast! We couldn't feel more blessed can't wait to meet the final member of our little family!

While we wait the arrival of our new little one, what is your best advice on being a parent of 2?





Friday, October 28, 2011

Salad Sabatoge

I mentioned in a previous blog that weight is a challenge for me and I am getting it under control. Most people assume that eating salad is a healthy option. It certainly can be! The problem is most people destroy their low fat healthy salad with lots of high fat/calorie dressing to make it more flavorful. In turn, totally eliminating the whole point of eating the salad in the first place!

So here you go...my tips to making a delicious, flavorful HEALTHY salad.

First things first, use good ingredients. Personally, I am not a fan of bagged salad. It costs more and just plain doesn't taste as good to me. I buy whole romaine heads of lettuce, chop, wash and bag and I will have enough lettuce for the week. Be sure to spin you lettuce, nobody likes a soggy salad
Next, don't be afraid to add plenty of flavorful veggies to your salad. I personally LOVE diced red onion on a salad. It adds lots of taste without lots of calories and NO fat
I also don't think a salad is complete without tomato. As much as I love a nice ripe garden tomato, it isn't always an option, so roma tomatoes or grape tomatoes can do the job just fine! I also love to add other options like avocado. Yes, the avocado has fat, but it is healthy fat that promotes a healthy brain and tastes amazing!
OK...here is where it gets a little tricky! At this point a lot of people would think it is time to dump a gallon of dressing on your veggie masterpiece. Not me! Add a little cheese. Note I said a little! I like to use really flavorful cheeses like feta, gorgonzola or blue cheese. I also add a few croutons for crunch. Again, I said a few...putting 50 on your salad or putting 5 on your salad and eating 45 out of the bag while you prepare is is going to sabatoge your healthy concoction!
Ooooh, one thing I almost forgot. Do you want to add a little sweet to your salad? Toss on a few craisins, not only are they a healthy treat, but they make a great addition with the cheese! So here it is, my fabulous, fresh salad that doesn't even need a drop of dressing!!!
Let me know what you like to add to your salad to make it a low fat healthy treat!


GOOSEBERRY PATCH: Cheese & Spinach Tortellini Soup


I have completed my first yummy recipe for the Gooseberry patch give away. Cheese and Spinach Tortellini Soup is not only healthy, but it is seriously DELISH! Here is the recipe:
2 T olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 T fresh thime, chopped
1/4 t red pepper flakes
6 c chicken broth
8 oz pkg refrigerated chees tortellini
9 oz pkg spinach
15 oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (my husband HATES beans, so we substituted canned diced tomatoes here and it was yummy)
1/2 c. grated Parmesan Cheese

The nice thing about this recipe is that most of this stuff is already in my refrigerator! So let's get started
Dice onion finely

Heat Oil in large soup pot over medium-hight heat
Add onion, garlic, thyme and red pepper flakes.
Cook until onion is soft, about 3 minutes.
Add Chicken Broth
Increase heat to high and bring to a boil.
Stir in the tortellini
reduce heat to medium and simmer for 4 minutes
Add spinach and beans (ok...here is where I made my little change. Instead of adding the cannellini beans, I added a can of petite diced tomatoes. The whole can, didn't even drain them) Also, be sure you use FRESH spinach in the recipe
Simmer until spinach is wilted and tortellini is tender, about one minute should be plenty.
Ladle soup into bowls and sprinkle with cheese
I served this with one of my fabulous (well I think they are fabulous) salads (be looking for my toss salad hints soon) and enjoy, this low fat, flavorful fall meal!
Be sure to let me know what you think of my very first Gooseberry patch recipe and don't forget, there are nine more to come....and a give away!




Thursday, October 20, 2011

Gooseberry Patch Giveaway

You read the title correctly! I am having a give away!!! Here is the deal...in a partnership with the Real Farmwives of America and Gooseberry Patch Cookbooks the ladies of the RFOA are cooking up 180 recipes from 18 different Gooseberry Patch cookbooks.

So here is how it works....I will be cooking 10 different recipes from Gooseberry Patch's
You are know me...I am one seriously busy girl, so this cook book is right up my alley!!! Be sure to be looking for some yummy and healthy recipes in the next few days, and don't forget to comment. One lucky reader will win a copy of Speedy Suppers of their very own.

By for now....

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Accountability and Extremes

I have had something weighing on me for a while. Well actually it has been weighing on my butt for about a year now! It is the extra 20 pounds that I never lost after having a baby. I don't really have an excuse, other than I eat crap...and too much of it! So here I am world, acknowledging and becoming accountable for the poor food choices and lack of exercise that have plagued me for a while!

Weight has been something that I have struggled with for years. Sometimes I control it, other times it controls me. This post is about to get a little heavy (no pun intended), so if you would like to leave now...no hard feelings!

In my late teens and early twenties, I learned how to lose weight. I could drop 10 pounds like it was nothing. Before I knew it, a huge chunk of my self worth was wrapped up in my appearance. The fact that so much of my job depended on my weight didn't help. Think orange shorts and chicken wings (that is another story for another day). I worked my butt off (literally) to stay a perfect size 5. I counted calories, ran, spun, lifted weights, did aerobics and drank enough protein shakes to last the rest of my life. All while going to school and working. I had control of my life in every aspect and I loved it!

For those of you who diet, you know, there comes a time when the pounds stop coming off. Well, I am a girl who needs results and I like to get them quick! So one day I thought to myself, if I work out the same amount of time, but just drink half the protein shake, I should see results. And I did! Before I knew it my size 5, 145 pound frame had shrunk to just under 100 pounds and every minute of my life was consumed by "control". What I thought was the self control to limit yourself to 2 tablespoons of oatmeal, half an apple, a cup of broccoli and a can of tuna per day, was actually my life spinning completely out of control. While my gaunt figure was shocking to my friends and family, I took pride in the fact that I couldn't find clothes small enough to fit me and my thighs didn't touch. I am embarrassed to admit that these were the things that consumed my every day, but they did!

A human can not exist like that forever. So you have two choices, you either die or your make a conscious decision to get yourself better. Obviously, you know which one I chose."Fixing" yourself when you get to that point might seem easy. Most people would say, just eat something. Well that is pretty much what you do, you eat. But not cheeseburgers and fries. Even the most healthy low fat meals add weight to a body that has been starved. Let me tell you, it hurts pretty bad to gain weight when your entire world has been wrapped around keeping it off for so long.

So you might wonder, how did I end up here, 20 pounds overweight and incredibly self conscious about it. I don't have an excuse. All I can say is I am tired of looking bad in clothes, worrying that everyone is staring at my midsection and being terrified that this extra weight will affect the quality of life I have!

I understand food, I understand calories and I understand exercise. So here I am, basically confessing to all of you in the world of the Internet, that it is time that I make some serious changes! I must become accountable for what goes in my mouth, and instead of sitting on the couch watching crap, I need to start exercising! I promise not to let this become extreme, like I have in the past!

I hope that this blog will help me stay on track with my goals. I am looking forward to sharing this struggle and hopefully some success! Be on the look out for some great healthy recipes! Some of my favorites have tons of flavor and are super easy to make!

Maybe, just maybe, I will one day be able to squeeze back into the orange shorts..................I am TOTALLY KIDDING about the shorts....just wanted to get your attention!

Friday, September 16, 2011

What I have learned from showing and raising livestock

I have been around animals (big ones) my entire life. Most of my friends have not. Sometimes they ask me questions about what it is like to raise animals and show them. So here ya go....in no particular order, just a few of the things I have learned in the livestock business:
  • just because she cost alot of money, doesn't mean she will win
  • when you see a cow chewing her cud peacefully in a pasture...she is basically chewing on her own puke
  • when you work cows with your spouse, and he yells, "you dumb B#@%&" he is talking to the cows...not you
  • never be standing behind a cow in the spring when she coughs
  • You don't need a bull to make baby calves, all you need is a steel rod, a "unit" of the appropriate suitor, a bottle of wine and a pack of cigarettes (ok scratch the smokes and booze but it sure would make it nicer for the cow)
  • if you have ever wondered why mother cows are so protective of their babies....have one of your own and you will totally get  it
  • my husband can go shoulder deep in a cow's lady parts, but can't handle the sight of toddler puke
  • if the judge didn't see it, it never happened
  • most problems can be solved on the long walk to tie outs
  • horses are like 1200 pound toddlers that can kick your face in
  • a cattle show could be defined as a beauty contest for hairy fat girls!
  • go to the bathroom before you put your chaps on!
  • beer at 7 am at a horse show is a completely acceptable beverage
  • shows are won on the amount of effort put in at home

Thursday, September 15, 2011

I'm a Pretty Lucky Girl...
you want to know why?

I can't deny it...I have no excuse, my blog has fallen to the bottom of a long list of things to do! So for those of you who read, I am sorry, I promise to try to do better! I have lots of great blog posts in my head, but unfortunately, I just don't have the time to get them out of my head and onto the web...haha...that was sort of a rhyme, just call me the Jay-Z of blogging! (feeble attempt and trying to be cool there....I am pretty sure it failed)

Anyway, I thought to try to jumpstart my blog again, I would do a little pictoral review of just a few of the people that make me a lucky girl!

1. this little darling! Honestly, I can't think of a single cuter thing in the world. I am pretty sure she stuck my heart in her pocket the second she was born and she will keep it until the day I die!

2. He drives me insane, when he falls alseep on the couch (couches are for sitting and beds are for sleeping, but we will get into that another time) but he is the most amazing father and husband a girl could ask for! He lives for us and works impossibly hard to help make our life great!

3. If you make a list of all the things that make a set of parents cool...mine rank pretty high. I did my best to drive them insane as a teenager (and i have no doubt that the little darling will do the same to me). They sacrificed and struggled and worked their butts off to provide my brother and I with everything we could possibly hope to have! They are amazing parents and grandparents!

4. How cute is this bunch?!?! I can't think of many people whow have more fun as a family than we do...While my brother and I fought like cats and dogs as kids, he married the perfect girl for him, thus giving me the opportunity to be an AWESOME SUPER COOL EXTRA FUN FABULOUS MAGNIFICENT (magnificent might me a stretch) aunt to the sweetest nieces and nephew a girl could ask for!

5. To say my husbands family is big and close might be the understatement of the century!!!! They are close, fun, over the top and there is a lot of them! Since we are so close to the whole lot...this is the best picture I could come up with on short notice where they were all in the same place at the same time! Believe it or not, they are all in the picture!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Hunting with Toddlers

Yes, I know, the title probably makes you want to call child protective services immediately! I would for sure! Not to worry, the hunting that happened at our house was the egg variety! I am so excited to share our egg hunting story!

I need to start you all out with a little background story. When I became a mom, I scoured the internet for baby information. You would be amazed what all you find when you search for baby stuff! Anyway, I stumbled upon a message board dedicated to local moms. Most of them had children Preslee's age and were from all over Indiana. This looked like a perfect place to get to know some other moms and learn all the baby things I was completely clueless about! It took several months before I got the nerve to actually participate in the conversations. But, then one day I just decided...I have questions too and I want to just jump right into the discussion! Over the last several months, I have gotten to learn about other local families and have enjoyed hearing stories about other toddlers and sharing some of our favorite stories too! The group has get together events regularly, and while I hadn't gone to one, it sounded like a lot of fun. So, when they started looking for a place to host an easter egg hunt....I just blurted out "I'll do it!" Now picture this...I went home and told Andy, "we need to clean the barn, mow, pull weeds, get the house cleaned, groom Ziggy and get one of the cows up for a hair cut because I just invited a bunch of families who I have never met to come over and search for plastic easter eggs in our yard! Oh and by the way, they are coming in 5 days!" God love him...Andy's response was, "well...OK!"

As you know, we live on a small farm. While I do spend a lot of time whining about cleaning stalls, mowing grass and all the other fun "farmy" things that we have to do constantly, I do recognize that it is a special thing that we get to share our lives with animals that most people rarely see, other than passing by on the highway. Living on this farm, Andy and I feel like it is a great responsibility we have to share our story, our home and our animals with people who don't get the opportunity to experience "farm life" on a daily basis. So this easter egg hunt was a perfect fit for us!

I was so excited to meet the people who I had been sharing experiences with that I could hardly stand it! I couldn't wait to see the kids hunting for their eggs and playing together! However, I recognized that this wasn't just about plastic easter eggs. We had this great opportunity to share not only our home with these great families, but also our animals and the story of Indiana Agriculture! We put together goody bags full of treats for the kids and parents alike. Everything from recipes, coloring books and even meat thermometers! Because come on....who doesn't think of meat thermometers when they think of Easter (that was me trying to be sarcastic...haha)! My hope was that not only would the kids and parents get an opportunity to share some fun and fellowship, but also get to learn a little something about agriculture and take home some fun treats and helpful information about their food.

The day was great! The weather was perfect, the kids had a blast and Andy and I were truly honored to be able to share our home with some really great families! And...I think Ziggy really appreciated getting brushed! I can't wait to have all of these new friends out to visit again! For those of you that got to come, thanks so much for making it a great day for our family and thank you for letting us share our lives with you!

Here are some pictures of what I think was a GREAT hunt!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Joyful

We have all seen the tragedy unfolding in many places around the world. So today, I thought it would be nice to share something joyful with you....I never knew I could get so much happiness from one little girl!

Preslee At the Park



"mom...I need a kleenex!"



Monday, March 14, 2011

Mackey

"If you have a dog, you will most likely outlive it; to get a dog is to open yourself to profound joy and, prospectively, to equally profound sadness."-- Marjorie Garber

Meet Mackey...

Mackey, a 120 pound rottweiler mix came into my life in 1999. How I ended up with this sweet boy is a bit of a long story so I will keep it short....Mackey needed a home and I never turn my back on an animal so he ended up with me. Being a sophomore in college and having a dog, especially the stature of Mackey is a bit of a challenge. However, I agreed to take him so it was my responsibility to take good care of him.

Mackey has lived with me in a tiny apartment in Vincennes, then West Lafayette, Plainfield and Monrovia.

I have never in my life encountered a more bright, joyful and kind creature! Mackey and I have been through it all....3 car accidents, college, boyfriends, jobs, apartments, homes, a marriage and a pregnancy. I have treated Mackey like my child and tried my hardest to make sure that Mackey never felt the awful experiences that so many dogs endure.

In September 2008, I knew something was off with Mackey. While I was dreading the appointment, I knew he had to be seen by our veterinarian. While I knew on that day, I could get news I didn't want to hear, I don't think anything could have prepared me for the "bus" that was about to hit me at the clinic. Mackey had a tumor....a big tumor....a tumor that couldn't be treated....a tumor that would likely kill him.....a tumor that I hated...a tumor that has made me cry more tears than I thought any person could cry! As if the news could get any worse, this tumor could kill him in a week, or a month....no one really knew.

In my desparate attempt to find better news, I searched for any possible treatment to save my sweet boy. I found nothing....well....nothing that wouldn't include painful invasive surgery or torturous treatments. Mackey was already an elderly dog, so my choice was to keep him comfortable as long as possible.

I committed myself to his wellbeing. I did everything in my power to make my boy enjoy the last days of his life. Little did I know how long that would last.

Several months after Mackey's diagnosis, he was going strong and we learned that we were expecting our first baby in November 2009. Mackey was bright and joyful and I had no doubt that Mackey would be in our lives for the birth of our child and I couldn't wait for Mackey to see the baby (Mackey loved babies).

As the summer of 2009 came to an end, I began to see changes in Mackey. Despite my best efforts, Mackey was losing weight and had begun to limp on one leg. I don't think I truly believed how bad he started getting. Before I knew it, Mackey needed a lot of help. He needed our help to get in and out of the house and Andy had to carry him up the stairs every night.

I knew it was time to make a decision. The day I got this dog, I knew I would have to face this day, but nothing prepared me for making the decision. I put it off as long as possible, I wanted him to meet the baby, but, it was time and I knew it couldn't wait. The sparkle in Mackey's eye was quickly vanishing and I owed it to him to say goodbye while Mackey's dignity was still in tact.

It was a beautiful October morning. The sun was shining and the sky seemed more blue on that day than it had in a long time. We fed Mackey treats, lots of treats, in fact, I fed him so many treats, he couldn't eat anymore. When our vet pulled in the drive, Mackey's tail was wagging but he was too weak to get up and greet her like he normally would. I knew at that moment that I had made the right decision for my boy.

We gave kisses and hugs and it went quick. His giant "bucket" head was laying in my lap like it had so many times before and I said goodbye to my sweet boy.

It has been 15 months since we said goodbye to Mackey. I miss him every day. While the wound is not as fresh, I still have a hole in my heart for my sweet boy. I love all dogs, but, Mackey was special. No dog will take his place and I know he is in heaven wagging his tail and running like he wanted to do so badly when he was sick. I wish more than anything that Preslee could have known Mackey, as  I am certain they would have been best friends.

It is my hope that every person will know joy that I have felt from owning a dog!

Sunlight streams through window pane
unto a spot on the floor….
then I remember,
it’s where you used to lie,
but now you are no more.
Our feet walk down a hall of carpet,
and muted echoes sound….
then I remember,
It’s where your paws would joyously abound.
A voice is heard along the road,
and up beyond the hill,
then I remember it can’t be yours….
your golden voice is still.
But I’ll take that vacant spot of floor
and empty muted hall
and lay them with the absent voice
and unused dish along the wall.
I’ll wrap these treasured memorials
in a blanket of my love
and keep them for my best friend
until we meet above.
- Author Unknown

Monday, March 7, 2011

Matilda Jane Made My Day

I am an addict! It is hard to admit, but, here I am, out here in the in the giant web world admitting my addiction....Clothes!

All of my life I have been what I like to call a "collector"! I had more clothes than any little girl could wear as a child (thanks mom for always keeping me dressed cute). As a young adult it got even worse! I sure do wish I had the money back that I have spent on mini-dresses, animal prints, leather pants and other classy ensembles I picked up in college and shortly after. (Hey, it was the early 2000s everyone was dressing like that)

Now that I am a mom, my addiction has shifted to little girl's clothing. Yes, it is bad to say the least! Preslee has more clothes than any one child can ever wear! She has so many clothes that often, I can't choose and outfit because I love them all!


this is only one season's worth of clothes! I'd say that pretty much confirms my addiction

these are the shoes....just fall and winter!


While I love lots of children's clothing lines...there is one special line of clothes that are my absolute favorites...Matilda Jane. They are feminine, whimsical, fun and extrodinarily good quality. I have been so anxious to start Preslee's Matilda Jane collection (think, lurking on their platinum website until Preslee could finally wear a size 2); however, because babies grow so quickly, I decided that we would wait until her growth slowed down just a bit and she could fit into toddler sizes to get her started with Matilda Jane.

With spring coming and Preslee getting bigger, I started following Matilda Jane on Facebook and on their blog as I can't wait to start shopping! Little did I know, 30 seconds on Facebook and my Grandma Wilma's underwear advice would earn Preslee her very first Matilda Jane dress!

Years ago, my grandma told me...always have clean underwear....just in case you have an accident! I am not sure if she was talking about a car accident or an underwear accident but I took it to heart. So when the Matilda Jane's facebook page posted a question offering a surprise to the best answer for what to bring on vacation if you could only take one thing....I knew my answer right away! CLEAN UNDERWEAR! I went of a vacation once where my luggage was lost for 24 hours and all I had was a toothbrush and a bikini...guess what I would have given my right arm for....but that is another story for another day!

After hundreds of entries, guess who they picked on Wednesday afternoon??? MEEEEEEEEEE!!!! I was so thrilled and couldn't wait to see the little surprise coming my way! I was even more shocked when I got home on Thursday and the coveted Matilda Jane package was sitting on my porch! (24 hours later!!!) I was so excited that I could barely get the box open! I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the most perfect size 2 Knot Dress! I would say I was practically jumping up and down, but I would like you all to believe I am cooler than that (I was totally jumping up and down and I am completely uncool). What's more, it could not be a better fit on Preslee! The only problem is...in true addict style...I am not obsessed with finding the perfect shoes and accessories to match. I also have a pair of fabulous Matilda Jane ruffle pants in mind to trasition the dress from summer to fall (I told you I was an addict)!

Yay for Matilda Jane! How could I not love an Indiana based company, that not only makes beautiful, fun and unusual clothes (in grown up sizes too), but also brightens up someone's day when they need a little brightening! Hope you enjoy some photos of Preslee "modeling" her new Matilda Jane Knot Dress!


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Independent and Sticky

Preslee is a picky eater. She is also a very independent toddler. Mix those two together and what do you get...that's right, a recipe for disaster. As picky as she may be, she LOVES yogurt. It is pretty much my fall back food everytime she refuses to eat anything else. Last night, not only did Miss Independent refuse to eat her dinner, but she wanted to feed her self (god help us when this kid turns 16). While I understand catering to her every whim is not the answer, I also feel like I need to pick my battles...so guess who got to feed herself last night! You guessed it..Preslee! She enjoyed a lovely cup of Chobani Yogurt (think greek yummy goodness with blueberries...what can I say, the girl has good taste in dairy products) and mommy got to enjoy 40 minutes of clean up! (ingnore the Baby's First Christmas bib...had I known that I was going to have a cute picture opportunity, I totally would have gone for something more seasonally appropriate...insert sarcasm here)