Monday, February 24, 2014

I'm doing it.

Friends can be so inspiring, can't they?

Heather really inspired me when she trained for and ran the Chicago marathon last year.  Carly inspired me when she did a 12-week fitness challenge complete with intense work-outs, healthy eating, and weekly video diaries.  And Katie inspired me when she did the Whole30 program in January.  (Her post at Lion Named Parker came at the perfect time!)

It's kind of funny how seeing pictures of yourself and then getting a surprising number on the scale can also inspire you--in a horrifying way. ;)  (Somehow I've gained 20 pounds recently, on top of the 10 I had been holding on to since having Ellie.)

Needless to say, I've been inspired... And I've been taking baby steps to getting more healthy.  But today I'm JUMPING in. :)

Today, I start the Whole30!  (You can read more about the Whole30 program here.) 

Basically I'm committing to eating mainly meats, veggies, and fruits for the next 30 days, and ommitting sugar, dairy, and grains (NOOOOOO!!!!!!  This is my hardest one... Even though God says we can't live on bread alone, I truly believe I could totally live off of the Word of God AND bread alone).

I wanted to share this process on the blog in an effort to stay accountable, and I decided to even share before and after pictures to keep me motivated (deep breath).  Part of me skeptically wonders how much this will really help with my weight, so I'm looking forward to being proven wrong.. :)

Here are yesterday's pics: (Don't mind the wet hair and no make-up! yikes) :)

As I've been working up my motivation to jump on this healthy food train, the main thing that's been hanging over me is the PLANNING.  They say that's the key--the meal planning and the grocery shopping.

Here's how I've been gearing up....

First I read through their 8-Step guide for newbies.  I was surprised how fun and easy to read it was.

I'm using these lists from the Whole30 site as a guide for groceries:

I'm following this Pinterest board (Stupid Easy Paleo-Whole30--it has about 18k followers!) and this Chowstalker one. 

And I'm following @whole30 on Instagram. (will use #bethanyswhole30)

Other than that, I've been wading through some of the recommended blogs that Whole30 suggests for recipes and meal plans.  One of my go-tos will probably be from Meatified--with their 30 Days of Whole30 Breakfasts, Lunches, and Dinners.

One last thought...
Last thing I want to mention is that I'm super thankful for the body God gave me--pear-shaped and all.  My main goal is to glorify Him as I learn how to eat healthier and exercise self-discipline.  Having a daughter keeps me really accountable to teaching her a positive self-image--frequently reminding her that she's created in God's image, that He made her and she is precious to Him, that she has a beautiful body... And since becoming a mom I've needed God to teach me to accept the changes from and marks of my pregnancies.  I've had to adjust to being several sizes for the first time, and becoming comfortable in my own skin at those various stages.  And while accepting that, I also want to strive to be as healthy as possible (especially in light of trying for another baby).  It's all about balance!  

So here we go.  I'm excited to let this retrain the way I think!  And I'm excited to see what new foods I learn to cook with and come to love.  

(And hey, if it gets me a little more photo-ready to be in my dear Rachel's wedding next month, then all the better.) ;)

Monday, February 10, 2014

Sign of the Week: MUSIC

So this was actually from two weeks ago, but I've been focusing on some other things lately!  Time to catch us up. :)

First off, I have to say that I'm typing this from a sort of "vacation" spot.  Our complex has been doing a lot of renovations and construction (for oh... years.), and this time around they got smart and have some furnished units that we can use during the day!  Complete with a coffee pot (of course this is listed first), TV (woohoo cable!), wifi, and even beds--so my peanut could take her nap undisturbed (hallelujah)!  I can't tell you how thankful I am for the peace and quiet.  And Ellie's thankful for Disney Junior. ;)

Okay so here we go...

"This week's" sign from the Signing Time Blog is... MUSIC!
(from Baby Signing Time DVD Vol 4: Let's Be Friends)

I also have a bunch of previous Signs of the Week in a  photo album (viewable on my Little Sign of Mine Facebook page even if you don't have a Facebook account).

1) How to sign MUSIC:
MUSIC: Hold your left (or non-dominant arm) out in front of you, perpendicular to your body.  Make a flat hand with your right (or dominant) hand, and sway or swing your hand over your arm--almost like you're conducting music.

*The cool thing about this sign is it is also the sign for SING and SONG.  As you make this sign, just say the word you're intending it to mean!
Example--"Should we put on some MUSIC?  What SONG do you want to listen to?  'Old MacDonald?'  Okay, let's SING along!" (Meanwhile, you're doing the same sign each time.)

2) Watch Rachel sign MUSIC & print the flashcard on the Signing Time Blog here.

3) Signing Activities:
-Anytime you hear music--whether at a grocery store, listening to a Baby Signing Time CD in the car, or playing with a toy that sings a song--sign and say MUSIC.  ("Do you hear the MUSIC?  Oooh, what SONG is this?")
-Make a drum circle for little one out of pots and pans.  Let him use his hands or give him a wooden spoon "drum stick."  Clap and cheer for him as he makes music, and encourage him by saying, "Good job, you're making MUSIC!" (while signing MUSIC).
(Source: Play Create Explore)

-Make your own sound treasure basket by collecting, making, or buying fun instruments.
(Image source: Fine Solutions)
-Check out this fun pin for lots of ideas on instruments you and your little one can make and explore together:
(Source: Red Ted Art)
-In addition to the toddler ideas, try making this fun windchime!
Using an old xylophone (check thrift store, garage sales, ebay, or Craig's List), hang pieces to an embroidery hoop using fishing line.  Talk and sign together about the MUSIC it makes.
(Source: Craftster forum)

4) Today's Challenge: Listen to a song and dance with your little one once a day, and practice signing MUSIC.  "Do you like this SONG?  It's so fun moving to the MUSIC!"

Happy signing!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Granny Annie's Spaghetti Pie

The way food can recall a memory is so amazing to me. I can take a bite of Rice Chex cereal with sliced bananas, and suddenly I'm back in my junior year of high school, it's 6:42 in the morning, and I'm having breakfast with my wonderful dad.

When I take a bite of this spaghetti pie, it's April 8, 2009. I'm in Boerne, Texas at one of my closest friend's houses just days before her wedding. Around the table are the rest of the girls that make up the Fab 5, and we're digging in to some of the best home cooking west of the Mississippi, thanks to the mother-of-the-bride.

I loved each savory bite so much so that I begged Kristen's momma for her recipe. She showed me how she had prepped extras for the freezer--ready to pop in the oven at a moment's notice for any guests who might be dropping by during "wedding week"--and shared what a great meal it was to bring to a neighbor or friend in need. (Talk about thoughtful and hospitable!)

She gladly went and scanned a copy of the recipe from her cookbook that I have kept to this very day (and have since made numerous copies of for friends). 

Take one bite of this dish--with its perfect spaghetti and parmesan "crust," its flavorful sage sausage that's cooked in a delicious tomato sauce, then its balanced layer of sour cream with sautéed bell peppers and onions, and of course the oozing mozzarella cheese--and you will be sold.

I was so eager to share Ann's dish with my peanut and tell her about Granny Annie's spaghetti pie. We had such a sweet time making it together, and this mom was THRILLED that it got her eating veggies and meat. She loved every bite of it, and I'm sure Kristen's baby girl, Anna (Ann's namesake!), will love it just as much when she gets bigger.

Someday you may be able to throw your arms around Ann and thank her for one of the tastiest comfort foods ever when you join her in heaven... Until then, get to know the sweet, warm, wonderful momma and grandma that she was through making this special dish for your loved ones.

Granny Annie's Spaghetti Pie
From the Loving Kitchen of Ann Smith

8 oz. spaghetti
2 eggs
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. margarine
1/2 c. chopped green bell pepper
1/3 c. chopped onion
1 c. sour cream (preferably room temp)
1 lb. sage seasoned sausage
1 c. water
6 oz. can tomato paste
4 oz. sliced Mozzarella cheese

NOTE: The gist of the layers will be:
1) Spaghetti mixture
2) Sour cream w/ veggies
3) Meat in sauce
4) After baking, cheese (then bake to melt)

Heat oven to 350 degrees and set out the sour cream to bring to room temp. Break spaghetti in half and cook in salted water until barely tender; drain (or you can use up that leftover spaghetti!). Beat eggs. (Ellie loves doing this for me! I ask her to keep the fork touching the bottom of the bowl when stirring, and to keep the fork in/just above the bowl when she pokes the yolks and lifts them to break them up.)
Add Parmesan cheese (I usually use the green canister one) and toss with warm spaghetti. [See earlier pic of Ellie holding recipe.] Put spaghetti mixture in greased 10-inch pie pan.
Melt margarine in medium skillet; add green pepper and onion. Sauté for 5 to 7 minutes. Do not brown. 

Add sour cream to vegetables; mix and spoon over spaghetti. 

Cook sausage; drain off grease. 

Add to sausage, the tomato paste mixed with water (I usually do this in my liquid measuring cup. I fill it with water first and then dump in the tomato paste and stir with a fork.

Simmer for 10 minutes and then spoon over sour cream mixture.

Bake for 25 minutes at 350.

Then cut cheese into strips and arrange over top. (Try to cover the whole pie with cheese. I start with the slices that come out nice and whole and then fill in the gaps with smaller slices.)

Return to oven for 3 to 4 minutes, until cheese is melted.

Mmmmm delicious... It also makes wonderful leftovers (if there is any!!)