Hey Good Lookin, What Cha Got Cookin?

I tried something new a couple weeks ago.  I was a little nervous about how everything might have worked out, but in the end, it was a success.  What did I do?  I planned ahead and even prepared meals ahead of time!!!! Now this may sound like it’s no big deal, and maybe for you it isn’t, but for me it is quite an accomplishment!!

I have wanted to do this for a while now, in an effort to try and help myself out during the week.  By the time I get home from work, all I want to do is lie down and put my swollen feet up.  There is such a small window between the time I get home and bed time that the thought of preparing a meal is furthest from my mind.  So a couple weekends ago I decided to try the whole “make-ahead meals” thing out.

I started by finding a few recipes that I could use similar ingredients in, and that were able to be assembled ahead of time and then cooked later.  I made my grocery list, and headed out to the store on a Saturday to get everything together.  On Sunday, I started to put everything together.

The first recipe I made was for Chicken Bacon Chowder.  I decided to start with this one because it needed to be cooked in a crock pot.  So I could have it cooking all day while I prepped the other two recipes.  Then that afternoon when it was about done cooking, I could divide it into glass bowls to have individual servings ready to go for the next couple of days.  I decided that would also be dinner for Sunday night.

The next recipe was for Spinach Artichoke Chicken.  I love spinach artichoke dip, so I was sure this would be one super delicious meal!  I even made the mayo from scratch!  The instructions called to bake the chicken part way, then add the spinach artichoke topping and bake some more.  What I did was bake the chicken most of the way through, let it cool, then added the topping and stuck it in the fridge to be completed a few days later.

The third and final dish was some Cheese and Veggie Cakes.  If you know me, you know that I do not like veggies very much, but this called for lots of cheese and bacon so I thought it would help cover the taste of the non-fruits.  I used zucchini and carrots for my veggies.  This one took some extra prep because you have to drain the liquid out of the veggies for several hours before hand.  In this case I prepped the veggies and stuck them in the fridge with salt to have them drain overnight, then I just mixed the rest of the ingredients, minus the eggs, in a separate bowl so all I would need to do is combine the three and cook when I was ready later on in the week.  . Now when it finally came down to cooking these, I had a little trouble.  Since I don’t have a griddle pan – yet- I decided to try cooking these in my cast iron skillet.  That did not work out as well as I had hoped it would.  Thankfully, not all was lost; I only tried a few out so I had plenty of mixture left over to cook the rest in the oven.

Despite not having a griddle, the third recipe ended up being the most successful.  Both my husband and my daughter loved the veggie cakes!!  SCORE!!!  My daughter actually finished a whole one in one sitting, and she normally eats more healthful foods like a bird.  So I have been told that should be made again.  My husband enjoyed the first 2 recipes as well of course, but he generally likes anything I cook for him. :)

I have learned that planning and prepping ahead isn’t as daunting a task as I had thought it was, and it made cooking throughout the week a breeze.  I’m sure that if I could make a habit of this, it would really help out towards the end of this pregnancy and especially after baby Camp is born!

If you are interested in checking out these recipes, here are the links to my Pinterest:

Chicken Bacon Chowder

Spinach Artichoke Chicken

Cheese and Veggie Cakes

Have you ever tried preparing ahead-of-time meals?  What was your experience?  Any tips and/or tricks to share?  Please comment below, or on my facebook page.

Thank you very much for reading!!

Jenn

What Not to do When Your Friend Jenn is Expecting

Hello my loyal readers!!!  Thank you so much for sticking around these last couple months!!  I haven’t been missing, but in case your haven’t heard, my husband and I are expecting a baby.  :)  As I’m slowly sliding out of the first trimester, and starting to get my appetite and energy back, I should finally be able to post at least somewhat more regularly.  I cannot make any promises, however I really miss writing so I am hopeful that my energy allows it.

With this new chapter beginning in our lives, I thought I would write about some things that really annoy me now that I’m pregnant.  Actually, they are things that annoy me anyway, but now that I am pregnant and people will want to ask questions and drop annoying clichés, I thought it would be fun for me to give people in my life a heads up.  So here we go…

First and foremost, I am not ‘preggers’ or ‘preggo’.  I don’t know who came up with these two words, but I do not like them.  I don’t think they are cute, and if you say those words to me, I will most definitely roll my eyes at you and let you know that I do not like to be called those words.

The second thing, which is just as annoying as the first, is when people ask me if I want a boy or a girl.  If you think about it, it really opens a can of worms later on.  If I said I wanted a girl, and then had a boy, I would then get the comments about how maybe someday I’ll get my girl or some other silly thing like that.  I would never want my child to feel unwanted, or hear about how I really wished they were the opposite sex.  I just think that’s mean.  So please don’t ask.  I am happy to be blessed with a baby. Period.

Third on the list of things not to do is to not touch my belly, unless you are given permission by me.  I don’t know why being pregnant automatically makes other people think they have permission to touch me in any way, but it does not.  Even if I know you.  It’s still my body, so please do not put your hands on it without an invitation.  I will not be held responsible for the actions that may follow.

Fourth on the list, really goes along with number 2, asking if I am excited.  I really don’t understand why people ask this question.  It’s a very exciting time, of course, how could it not be?  And if I were to answer ‘no’, what would my future child think of me if they found out that their mom wasn’t excited about having them?

Number five has to do with telling me your stories.  I will ask for advice or opinions when I want them.  Please do not go on and on about how this or that happened to you.  I’m not comparing my pregnancy to anyone else’s, and neither should you.  I might compare it to my first pregnancy, but that makes sense because it involved me and my body.

The next one has to do with knowledge.  I am normally a fairly open person; however there are some things I will keep private.  If this offends, or hurts you, please get over it quickly and move on.  This would include family and friends.  No one is entitled to any information about our pregnancy; anything anyone knows is a result of my husband and me agreeing to share that information.  That being said, I will be sharing some information about what’s going on, just not everything.

Now a note about buying gifts:  Understanding that it’s been 17 years since I’ve had a baby, I would love to have a baby shower!!  I understand that some people just like to buy things they like, or think we would need, but in my case, I encourage anyone who would like to give us a gift, please make sure we are either registered for it, or we have told you personally that it is something we would use.  I am grateful for all of the generosity we have been shown so far, and being a giver myself, I understand wanting to give all I can to someone.  Because I care so deeply for all of my friends and family, I do not want anyone to waste their money on something that I’m not going to use.  I am pretty darn picky about what items we would like for our little one.

That about sums up the big stuff.  I’m not writing any of this to be mean, so please don’t anyone who knows me go taking any of this personally, because that would be silly.

What about you?  Do you have any pet peeves when it comes to what people say or do when you’re pregnant?  Please share below or on my facebook page.

Thank you for reading!

Jenn

p.s. As I mentioned in my first blog post, negative comments will not be tolerated.  If any of you have any negative feedback, I, again, ask you to send me a private message.  Thank you!!

I don’t brush my teeth with toothpaste.

As my life has been steaming full speed ahead, though I haven’t finished my post I was planning to post last weekend (sorry!), I did want to answer some questions about what I use to take care of my whiter than pearly whites.

During my detoxifying my body process, I learned a lot about how fluoride is actually not that great for you.  This blog post I read by Cheeseslave gives some insight as to why.  So, after some more research of my own, I ditched the traditional toothpaste, mouthwash and floss I had grown accustom to using for so many years, and started using some better stuff.  Some of the websites I visited to do some dental research are the Weston A Price website, and the Oral Wellness website.  There are a few more articles and studies I have read as well, but those 2 websites are good places to begin.

So what the heck do I use?

First up, Toothpowder and Gum Serum!! Here are the products I currently use, though I have also made my own remineralizing tooth powder that I alternate between.

Next, I have recently made a remineralizing mouthwash, minus all the mint, because I’m not a mint person.  This is kept in the fridge, and I think that gives me the ‘freshness’ I might be missing from mint.

What about floss?  I simply use one that I buy from Whole Foods that has Tea Tree oil throughout, instead of fluoride.

But wait! That’s not all!!

I also do oil pulling!!! What in the Sam hill is oil pulling you ask? Well, it’s basically swishing coconut oil around in my mouth for 20 minutes, and then spitting it out. I have heard of people using other oils, but I prefer coconut.  Why would I do this?  Because I like the taste, of course! Ok, not really, though its not too bad.  There has been a lot of buzz about oil pulling recently, and I’m willing to bet you could find all you ever wanted to know about it’s benefits by doing a Mypoints/Google/Bing search like me, but here are a couple places I recommend going first. Check out OhLardy’s post hereand Grassfed Mama’s post here.  It is controversial, of course, because who would want to believe that something so simple and inexpensive could be good for you and improve your health when you could be spending more money on other products and medicines.  Oh well.  Ultimately, the choice is yours.  If you do try this oil pulling thing out, I do recommend starting with a small amount at first.

Anywho, that about sums up my mouth care plan.

Thank you for reading!!

Jenn

ps Please head on over to my Facebook page, and give it a like if you wouldn’t mind.  I appreciate the support! :)

pps I do not receive compensation for referring you guys to any of these links by the way… but I might some day.  I would let you know if I started using affiliate links.  I think it’s actually a pretty good idea because it doesn’t cost you guys anything. Stay tuned…

Where have I been???

Thank you to all of my faithful readers!!  I have been working on a couple of projects lately and just haven’t had the time to sit down and type all my thoughts onto one post.  The post I am going to do next has to do with a sort of self make over so-to-speak.  I am even going to try and add some photos, finally!  I plan on posting it next weekend, after the final stage is complete.  I am really looking forward to reveling a new me that has really been there all along.

In the mean time, I have also been reading several books.  The latest one is about hypnobirthing, and no, it’s not what you think.  As many of you know, Nick and I are planning on having a baby in the very near future (not pregnant yet) and it is my wish to have a home birth.  I haven’t decided how much to share on this blog yet, but I would really love to share some things since this would be a pretty major part of my journey through life.

Also, I am about to start reading ‘Eat the Yolks” by Liz Wolfe.  I am super excited, and plan to share a review on here as well.  Liz is one of the people I look up to, as she is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, and even studied through the same program I plan on going through.  She has a great sense of humor, and loves to quote movies, and those are reasons why I know her book will be pretty cool.  Check out her website!

Okay, stay tuned folks. Thank you for reading!

Jenn

p.s. Have you checked out my facebook page?  Head on over and give it a like, would you please?

Have a little cheese with your whine.

Today’s post is about some whining I have been hearing lately.   Some of you reading may not like me too much after reading this, but that is ok.   If you take this post personally, maybe you should.   If you think this is directed only at you personally, it isn’t.  This also applies to people that probably won’t read it, and the person creating this post.  I don’t write any of this to be mean, but if you know me, you know that I don’t sugar coat anything.  Not only that, but it is my blog after all. Please know that I care about each and every one of you reading this.  I say all of the following out of love.

Okay, now that I have that out of the way…

I am going to talk about something that has gotten under my skin ever since I worked in the weight loss industry; whiners.  In this post, I will define whiners as people who complain about something, but their actions suggest that they don’t really wish to change their circumstances.  For example, when someone complains about not being healthy and then a few hours later they are mowwing down on a fast food corn burger- I mean- hamburger and some french fries, and then wash everything down with some carbonated corn syrup- or soda pop.  Or that same person is justifying why they must eat at least 3 extra-large pieces of that nothing-but-sugar-and-flour-with-some-artificial-colorings cake for so-and-so holiday.  I get tradition, but what I don’t get is how we let tradition turn into a catch all excuse as to why we need to make ourselves sick.  Remember, I’m not saying that I haven’t been guilty of this myself, but I have been so aware of this habit that when I do fall into it, I am quick to recognize what is going on and search for help.

If I could just explain something simply, holidays should not revolve around food.  Here is an example; let us say it’s your birthday, and you are really happy about getting together with a few friends and loved ones to celebrate.  How would it make you feel if the first thing someone says to you when you meet up is, “What are we having to eat?  What kind of cake are we having?”  Does that say to you, “Hi there! Happy Birthday! What would you like to do to celebrate?”  Or does that say to you, “I am only here for the food, thank goodness for holidays!”  I’m sure we would all like to think that we care a lot about the real meaning of holidays, but let us be real, most of the time we care about the food.  We care about all the little goodies and treats that are surrounding the holiday.  I mean, look at what is advertised in TV commercials, internet, and in grocery stores.  Every holiday has it’s plethora of color schemed themed junk that people buy for its ability to coordinate with said holiday.   No wonder these junk food companies make bank, we fall for it!  By the way, when I say “junk” food, I mean the processed food that isn’t really food; that I know I used to buy all the time because it was cheaper.  Well, there’s a reason it’s cheaper, and I want better for my body.

It is so interesting to me that we will do so much research, and pay top dollar for a quality TV, laptop, pair of shoes, and/or a piece of clothing, but when it comes to what we put in our mouths, we just grab whatever is the least expensive off of the shelves.  Hmmm, I am recalling a saying I heard somewhere about how we can see what our priorities are by how we spend our money….  So we sit around and complain about our health, and how we don’t like the way we feel, or how our bodies jiggle, and how the cost of healthcare keeps rising, but at the same time, we are complaining about all of this in our name brand shoes with our super terrific handbags driving our super fancy cars with the background of our super big LED flat screen TV playing the TV shows we pay another company to record for us so we can spend mindless hours in front of said TV eating super cheap junk.  Is this making any sense at all?  Am I the only one who can see a problem with this?

Oh and I can hear all the whiney excuses now…  “But it’s tradition,” “But one won’t hurt me,”  “But it’s too hard to eat healthfully,” “But my kids will only eat such and such,” (love that one) “But healthful food doesn’t taste good,”  “healthy food is boring,” “I will just work it off at the gym,” “My husband won’t let me buy the healthful stuff,” “I would eat healthfully but I just can’t afford to,” “But it’s my birthday, “ “But I don’t want to offend anyone”.  Okay STOP!!!  Think about all of these excuses we are giving ourselves because we are so addicted to this junk that we don’t want to give it up.  The scariest thing for me is thinking about how much of what I eat can affect my health, and how sometimes I would sacrifice my health for 30 seconds of flavor on my taste buds.  Are we really okay with being slaves to this processed fake food?  Well, if you are, that is certainly your choice.  I am not going to sit here and tell anyone what to do, BUT, stop all of the whining about how your favorite jeans don’t fit.  Stop complaining about how your energy is gone and you are sick all the time.  Stop talking about how you wish you were in better shape and didn’t have bad skin.  Stop with your “if onlys” and “I wishes”, at least around me, but I still think it’s a good idea to stop whining altogether.

So you’ve realized you have been focusing on the wrong things and are ready to stop whining about things you can change.  Now what?  Now you start to rebuild your health.  Now you do some research and find out what your body really needs to function properly.  Now you politely refuse the junk at the food centered parties because your health is more important to you than it was before.  You find someone who is already healthy and ask them to be your mentor, and/or your accountability partner, and that they won’t put up with your whiny excuses but instead, gently remind you of your goals.   Now you stop making those lame excuses as to why you just HAVE to have a bite of that brownie, because we all know it won’t just be a bite.  Now you start looking at what you spend your money on and ask yourself what is really important to you.  Now you pick yourself up off the floor and become the person you were busy whining about that you weren’t.

By the way, I have some good news; I am here to help you!!  This is one of the main reasons I want to become a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner.  Over the next year, as I read more of the books required for the course I am planning on taking to get my certification, I will be sharing some of the new things I have learned.  My hope is that someone out there will gain some knowledge that will improve their overall health and well-being.

Please share your thoughts and questions below, or on my facebook page.

Thank you all for reading!

Jenn

What have you done for me lately?

If you are singing a Janet Jackson song in your head right now, you rock!  That is what pops in to my head when I think about money these days, because I don’t worry about where my money goes. I tell it what to do.

Several posts back, I touched on how my husband and I handle our money.  Since then, I have had questions about more specifics on how we go about our “budget meeting”, and what tools we use to stay on track.  So, I decided to share a few more details, and share some of our success since we started telling our money what to do.

First, the budget meeting.  We both get paid twice a month, so we typically have our budget meeting the evening before we get paid.  We gather a few things to get started; Our budget binder, current and past bills, one of our laptops, and a calculator.  Our budget binder is something my husband crated that has several sections.  It has our past bimonthly budgets, our current and most recent bills, blank budget sheets, and notebook paper.  We use the zero based budget sheets from the Financial Peace University class we took.

To start the meeting off, we make sure we have the total of what we are getting paid, and write it at the top of the budget sheet. Then, we go item by item and decide how much money goes in each category.   The first category is tithing.  This comes right off of the top, before anything else on our list; before our mortgage, before our bills, before our food money.  There isn’t much discussion about that one, it’s 10% of our income straight to the Lord to do with what He wants (it’s really all of His money anyway, if you think about it). Next we move on to the most important money categories; no, not credit cards, or other debt, but savings, housing, utilities, food, clothing, transportation, and then medical/health.  We move item by item, and talk about how much we want/need to allocate for each.  Next we move to funds such as any insurance, personal needs like toiletries, subscriptions, replace furniture, and my favorite: pocket money (which we spend on whatever our little whiny hearts want to and not feel guilty).  Then we set some aside in our recreation fund for things like entertainment and vacations.

What about our debts?  Why don’t we put those at the top of our list?  The easy answer is that it’s what we learned in the Financial Peace University Class, of course!  More seriously, because we make sure our needs are taken care of first.  Period.  It wouldn’t make sense if we were on time with our debt card- I mean credit card payments, (which we no longer have), but didn’t have enough gas in the car to get to work to earn the money we use to pay those bills, now would it?  So our debts are at the bottom of the list.  This took a little getting used to, but to give you some examples, since we started doing this zero based budget, paying God, ourselves, and our necessities first, we have paid off all of our credit cards (about $6,000),  $6500 on my car loan, and other smaller debts.  At the same time, we saved about $1500 for our summer trip to Texas, about $700 for Christmas presents, and almost $3000 so far for IVF (this one in the past 2 months).  We have also had money for unexpected occurrences like fixing our daughter’s car to pass inspection ($400), having some routine maintenance done to my car before our trip ($500), and a few smaller things like replacing some broken cell phones.  Did I mention we paid cash for all of it?  No more credit cards.  They are chopped, and accounts are closed.

At the end of our meeting, we make a list of what amounts go in which account, how much cash to pull out and put in its designated envelope, and in what denominations.  It’s an extra step, but it really helps us keep track of everything.  The money we keep in our accounts is kept in a Drop Box folder.  If you haven’t heard of Drop Box, it’s kind of like a cloud to store information that can be accessed anywhere (I also store pictures on it).  You can choose whether or not it is public or private.  They also have an app, so files are easily accessible while shopping to check balances.  We can even update the balances from our phones so we have the most up to date information (and so we don’t forget to update then later… I keep my reciepts until I know I’ve updated the balance).   Here is a generic example of what we have saved on ours.  We also have a page of definitions in that folder, which lists what belongs in each fund and where it is located.  Like what is considered a toiletry, and whose account it’s in.

If something comes up that wasn’t expected, we have an emergency fund.  This is a fund we don’t touch unless an emergency occurs.  We have also discussed what constitutes an emergency, so there isn’t any confusion.  For example, a new pair of shoes on sale would NOT be categorized as an emergency, no matter how adorable.  Same with a new video game.  We have to stay pretty strict on that one because should something happen like a car accident, we don’t have to worry about where our deductible is going to come from, because at a time like that we have more important things to worry about.

Now, we aren’t perfect by any means, and we still have a long ways to go, but I think we have a pretty good foundation built for our financial health.

Again, there is a link below to the Dave Ramsey website, where you can get more detailed information about getting to financial peace.

What questions do you have for me?  What suggestions can you offer to someone who might feel a little lost when it comes to doing a zero based budget?  I look forward to hearing what you think in a comment below, or on my facebook page.

Thanks again for reading!

Jenn

No more stink.

First, I want to thank each and every one of you for supporting me and this blog!  I am amazed at the amount of people I have reached so far, and I am loving the feedback I am getting as well.  Also, thank you for following me on my Facebook page.  You guys rock!!!

With that said, this post is a review on a homemade deodorant recipe I recently whipped up, and have been using for the last several days.  As some of you may remember from one of my first posts, I threw away all of my commercial cosmetics a few months ago.  Since then, I have been using all natural, homemade, and organic products, one of which is deodorant.  For a while, I used coconut oil and baking soda, which works wonderfully as far as prevention of stink.  The problem was, my skin would get a little raw after a few days from the backing soda and the change in PH. So, I decided to purchase a sensitive formula “primal pit stick” from Primal Life Organics.  This stuff was pretty good as far as not irritating my skin, however, I had to reapply it a few times a day in order to prevent the stink.  I also purchased the regular “primal pit stick” to see if maybe the ratio I was using was what was causing the irritation.  While it certainly took care of the stink and lasted longer than the sensitive formula, it was still a little irritating. So now what? (By the way, this company has some other products I use and love.  I use the “dirty mouth primal package”, and love it.  I also do not get any compensation from this site for mentioning it, just sharing about a company that shares skincare beliefs.)

After a few days of not using anything on my arm pits, (sorry hunny), I came across a recipe on Pinterest for homemade deodorant for sensitive skin.  I had all of the ingredients, and I was going to be in the kitchen anyway making a fabulous whipped body butter recipe, so I decided to try out a batch.  You can find the recipe for the green paste on Oh Lardy’s website here. (I added some lavender and lemon essential oils to give it a nice and fresh scent.)  I love this recipe because it’s simple and it doesn’t require heavy machinery to produce.

The results?  My pits don’t stink, and they don’t turn red.  Ta da!!  I still sweat, mind you, but we are supposed to sweat.  And if you are wondering about the greenness rubbing off onto clothing, so far it hasn’t.  I only use about a peas sized scoop per pit.

What recipes for cosmetics or body care have you tired?  Please share below, or on my Facebook page.  I also have a homemade board on my Pinterest if you would like to see other recipes I’ve tried or am going to try.

Thanks again for reading!

Jenn