Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Nutrition in 100 Words

Back in April, I ordered a few items from Steve's Original which included some PaleoKits and PaleoKrunch cereal.  Both were very tasty, but what I loved even more was a card they put inside my box that sums up my experience over the last year and how my mindset has changed in regards to food.  It was titled "Nutrition in 100 Words" and I thought I'd share it on here.

Eat real, unprocessed food,
as close to nature as possible
and listen to your body.

Pretend the modern supermarket doesn't exist.
Choose foods that could be grown, hunted, or gathered -
nothing packaged or processed.
Support local farms when possible.

Eat animals, marine life, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and
fruits.  Eat plenty of healthy fats from pastured animals,
fish, coconut, avocado, olives, and cold-pressed oils.
Drink water.

Incorporate traditional, nutrient-dense foods:
fermented vegetables, organ meats,
and homemade bone broths.

Above all, ditch the "gurus", "programs", and "diets"
and get back to basics.  Connect with your intuition
and allow it to guide you.

I love it and just had to share!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

February Book Review: The Fred Factor

I'm trying to alternate between books for enjoyment and books for "education" each month, so this month's book was a book that I have had on my bookshelf for almost 2 years now.  I read The Fred Factor by Mark Sanborn.  I have started it more than once and I got distracted (not bored) away from finishing it.  This is an EXTREMELY easy read, and I generally read a chapter a night before bed.

Now, I will not say that anything in this book just blew me out of the water, but it was all excellent reminders on how to bring passion into your life whether it be at work, home, or throughout your daily encounters.  The whole book centers around (and is titled from) Fred the Postman.  Fred goes above and beyond his daily duties and is in turn able to find true fulfillment in a job that others could find mundane.  As I said, nothing truly extraordinary, but that is also what makes it a great read...everything in this book is incredibly do-able in everyday life.

Key Takeaways for Me:

  • Served as a reminder that life is all about relationships.  We can add value to people's life with our words and actions and it doesn't have to cost us a penny.  Every person we come into contact with in a day was not an accident.  We have the chance to make or break their day.
  • We are in control of our actions and attitudes.  There are SO many elements in our life that we cannot control: our job, other people's actions, lack of finances, traffic, whatever.  The one thing we are in control of is how we handle those situations.  And people are definitely watching our reactions.
  • The book spent some time discussing how to create other "Freds" around you.  As an aspiring leader, this got my interest as I am always looking for ways to not only improve what I do, but to help others around me become greater as well. 
  • The author spends time talking about how the original "Fred" is truly Christ.  We can look to Him for direction on our actions.  Again, this is nothing new, but a great reminder.  When I'm down in the dumps or needing a change of attitude, Christ is the ultimate example in putting others first and finding passion in life.

Next on the book list: Something Borrowed and to be really honest, probably something else since this is so short and honestly more of a guilty pleasure book.

Monday, February 20, 2012

January Book Review: Memoirs of a Geisha

As I started thinking about my goals for 2012 (not resolutions, mind you) I decided that I wanted to try to read 12 new books throughout the year...one a month.  I got this idea from my dear friend and realized that now that I am out of school, I have no reason not to read on a regular basis.  The great perk to this though is that I get to choose what I want to read rather than a professor assigning it to me.  Joy!  My plan is to switch each month between a book for enjoyment/entertainment/fun and a book for growth/learning/education.

I got started a little late in January and therefore the reading of this book bled into February a little bit, but that's fine because I feel confident that I'll catch up this month.  To be completely honest, I started this book for the first time back in July when I was visiting family in California.  I had a month off of summer classes and was just flying through books and asked my sister-in-law for some suggestions while I was out there for a week.  I read her first and second suggestion and then purchased her third suggestion, Memoirs of a Geisha.
I actually had this book in hard copy at home (forgot about it..oops!) and had attempted to read it years before when the movie came out, but I never really committed to it.  It is lengthy and you definitely do have to commit to it.  I believe this was my mistake several years ago and in July when I tried and failed to start the book.  I typically am adamant about not watching movies before I read the book, but I did watch it years ago when it came out and only remember that I really liked it, but could not remember the details.  I am realizing that this is the case for me on many things....I remember liking/disliking something but don't remember why...that really bothers me.

Anyway, I started AND FINISHED this book and really enjoyed it.  I absolutely love books where it is obvious that authors have extensively studied cultures and use this to educate their readers about the culture while telling a story.  I get sucked into the way of life of the character and immediately make comparisons and contrasts to my own life.  I think I enjoy it in the same way that I fall in love with other cultures whenever travel to another country.  I am often mesmerized by it all and am left researching the culture as much as possible on my own time because I just want to learn more about the language, customs, taboo items, and viewpoints.  This book was one of those books.  I cannot say that I know much about the Japanese culture and I have an especially limited knowledge of geisha, but this book had me diving in to learn more and more about this intriguing, yet sad (in my opinion) lifestyle.

I don't want to go into the details of the story because I'm pretty sure that you could read the back of the book cover and gain the same knowledge that you would get from me.  However, here are a few of the key thoughts I took away from the story as I was reading:

  • The character is extremely reflective.  It is great to live the story through the eyes of the character and see things as she sees them.  At times, she is a young girl and her outlook is that of a young girl's.  You have to piece some of the details together to understand what she is speaking of rather than her just coming right out and saying it.  Also, in many of her reflections, she correlates them to something within her culture which allowed me to better understand the feelings and emotions tied to her culture.
  • This book is centered around a goal that the character has made for her life.  It reminded me how important goals are to our lives and I was constantly amazed at the character's persistence and patience in reaching her goal when I so often am ready to give up or throw in the towel after just a few months of trial or waiting.  
  • We have been studying the effect of "Letting Go" in our series at church and we have focused on how refusing to forgive can be unhealthy for us psychologically as well as physically.  I'm sure it was because it was fresh on my mind, but there were more than one incidents within this book where being unwilling to forgive or a need for revenge was the downfall of a character.  I recognize that the book is fictional, but how often do we see this in our own lives?  When we refuse to forgive, we are choosing to let that other person always have a hand within our lives.  We are letting someone else effect everything we do and in turn, we are hurting ourselves more than we are hurting them.  Such a great reminder of how dangerous it can be when we choose not to forgive or let go. 

Ok, my book reviews won't all be this long, but it was fun to reflect back on the book that I spent an entire month reading.  Next up, for the month of February: The Fred Factor.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

A Week Around Our Table

Whenever I tell someone that we've gone Paleo, one of the comments early on in the conversation is "Well, what in the world DO you eat?"  Are you kidding?  We eat a TON of stuff!  And, might I add, we eat good-sized portions.  I eat until I'm full, but that doesn't mean I gorge myself.  Without all of the fillers that I was used to, I have become extremely aware of my body and what it is telling me.  When I am full, I know it.

OK, that was a side tangent, but the purpose of this blog is to copy what I found on Everyday Paleo when I was first starting out.  Seeing all the great stuff she made in a week made me understand how delicious and attainable this lifestyle truly was.  If it does it for you, great!, but if not you can hopefully enjoy a few of the recipes whether you are Paleo or not.

Note:  We eat breakfast and dinner together everyday, but our lunch is usually leftovers from the day before.

Breakfast:  Scrambled eggs with local eggs, local pork sausage, paleo grits from my Paleo Comfort Foods cookbook (awesome gift from my bro/sis-in-law), and a nice cup of black coffee

Lunch & Dinner:   Creamy Cabbage & Double Smoked Bacon Soup made with local pork and bacon.  This was so good that we ate it for both meals.  You HAVE to put the spicy brown mustard on it.  Like Oktoberfest in a bowl!


Breakfast: Sweet Potato Latkes (with local eggs & bacon), grilled bananas, avocado, and a cup of black coffee

Lunch:  We had lunch at my parents house.  My mom has gone Paleo (woo-hoo!) so we had some awesome ribeye steaks, roasted vegetables, and a great salad.  Yum!

Dinner:  Paleo Lasagna made with local beef and pork.  This makes SO much.  We ate on it all week which comes in handy when your husband likes to eat 5-6 meals a day!


Breakfast:  Sweet Potato Hash made with leftover sweet potatoes and local sausage

Lunch: Leftover "lasagna"

Dinner:  Pizza Soup made with local sausage, Applegate pepperoni, mushrooms, green peppers, and black olives.  Don't add as much liquid as they suggest if you like your soup chunkier/heartier.


Breakfast:  Sweet Potato Hash again (I was really feeling this dish this week!), unsweetened applesauce with cinnamon added, avocado, peppermint tea

Lunch: Leftover Pizza Soup

Dinner: Spiced Chicken with Pineapples and Peaches and broccoli (forgot to get a picture of it at dinner)


Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with local eggs, local bacon, unsweetened applesauce with cinnamon added, Earl Grey tea

Lunch: Leftover Spiced Chicken

Dinner:  Paleo Fried Chicken and Collard Greens (both from my Paleo Comfort Foods cookbook) and Fried Apples


Breakfast:  Paleo Oatmeal, local sausage patties, avocado, Earl Grey tea

Lunch:  Leftover fried chicken, greens, and apples

Dinner: Beef Goulash made with local beef and chocked full of veggies


Breakfast:  Bacon, scrambled eggs, banana...lame, I know, but I was in a hurry

Lunch: Leftover Goulash

Dinner:  Made a stir fry with venison, onions, and green peppers (made it with cauliflower rice last week and it was so good!), roasted sweet potatoes, some mango slices, and a glass of wine.  

Whole30 January was over so I enjoyed a nice glass of wine and also made a little treat for our small group that night...Raw Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites  Certainly a treat and not something I'd eat every night, but what a great occasion to share them with friends.  Good thing we shared too because I could have eaten them all just by myself!

So, there you go!  That's a glimpse into a week of our life.  I will say, this past week didn't have nearly as many veggies as we usually eat.  I love to get veggies in any chance we can and you'll see them mixed in a lot of stuff, but I usually like to have more than I had this past week.  

Life...As I Know It

Shoo! Anybody out there still? I can't say I wouldn't blame anyone for taking me off of their Reader. Gotta update every once in a while, right?

Alright, so here I am again. Completely inspired by my friends who update on a regular basis so I actually know what's going on with their lives. Sorry. I can't promise I'll be back to what I use to do, but I figured updating more often than every 6 months would be a step in the right direction!

There's been a few events that have happened since I last updated that have kept me a bit busy. Some of these events happened before my last update, but I never got around to blogging them. I realize EVERYONE is busy, that's my I give major kudos to all of my friends who are able to do this on a more regular basis. So, those events...took a trip out to California to see our niece, Noa, got a attend a training on classroom management...in Disney (tough life, right?), we gained another beautiful niece, Avery, I won Teacher of the Year (yay!), started going to a new church, the husband started (and is getting ready to finish) paramedic school, I went into full drive with school and graduated with my Masters (woo-hoo!), and I celebrated my 7th year of marriage (hard to believe).

Didn't know where to start back into things so I'm going to continue on from my previous post and give you a little more about our switch to Paleo. I still get questions all the time about it, so I'm going to share some personal effects it has had for our life.

First change we made was getting rid of our microwave. WHAT?!?! I know, I know, why would you get rid of that? We weren't using it when we eat everything fresh and let me tell ya, that sucker was taking up a lot of space on our countertop. Look at life without it...Huge shift in our lifestyle change was getting rid of all things non-Paleo from our cabinets and refrigerator. You all know I love to bake so that was A LOT of stuff. Here is the cleaned out spice cabinet in our house....

That shortening shouldn't be in there, but everything else is Paleo-friendly.

Now, I had a hard time throwing it all out since a lot of it was brand new and I was worried that we may change our mind and then I'd have to go back and buy all of these flours and supplies again. I stuffed them all up in the top two shelves of my cabinets (the tea is Paleo-friendly) but I can honestly say I've only had to get something down 2 times and that was when I pulled out the rice to put in a bowl to dry out the husband's iPod when I washed it. Oh wait, did I say 2 times...that would be because I also washed his cell phone. Oops! We are all about cleanliness here....or just not checking our pockets.

Since then, we have stayed pretty strict on Paleo and have not had many of the side effects that many get from going Whole30 but I believe that's partly from going gluten free for some time initially. Anyway, I wanted to share the results of going Paleo/Whole30/Raw...whatever you want to call it. I don't have a bunch of great pictures mainly because I didn't want to capture my weight gain over the years, but let's take a look at the changes.

This is me at the heaviest that I weighed in the summer of 2009. I really got myself to a point of being apathetic. In my head, I had "tried everything" and eventually just decided that God had made me this way and I didn't need to feel unhappy so I should just quit trying to fight and enjoy life.

At the end of summer 2010, I gave up gluten and started working out my husband training me.  I did end up losing a little over 20 lbs over a year's time which was so exciting, but I could not get under a certain weight hurdle.  I hit the wall and I hit it hard.  That spring, gluten started creeping back into my life slowly and things got busy so the gym was low on my priority list.  I ended up gaining about 10 lbs of my original weight back.

So, this past summer, we switched to a  Paleo lifestyle, as I have already described, started making the gym a regularly occurring event (2-3 times a week), and started making sleep a priority (6 hours crucial, 8 hours preferred).

Flash forward 6 months and I have lost those 10 lbs again and have kept going an extra 20+ lbs before my graduation.  These pictures were taken in December and I've actually lost an addition 9 lbs since then (5 lbs thanks to Whole30 January).  So, if you're keeping track, that's 53 lbs. since those Summer 2009 pictures.

First off, I look back and am extremely grateful that I have a husband who loved me regardless.  He still saw me as beautiful everyday and always let me how much he loved me.  I am so thankful for our friends, the Cracrafts, that showed us how Paleo fits for us.  I am an avid "foodie" and my whole view of food has grown and matured since I've started using food primarily as fuel.  The husband and I say all the time, "Man, we eat REALLY good!"  Seriously, finding enough to eat is not a problem (blog to come).

Finally, I am so thankful that I didn't settle with the thoughts that this was all God had in store for me...a terrible metabolism where I was just going to have to deal with the cards I was dealt in life.  I am not saying that I could not be happy without the weight loss, but there was a tugging after a while that I was personally using that excuse for me to eat what I wanted and not to give God the glory for who He made me.  I got my life in order and God has been able to bless me tremendously since then...extra energy, a strengthened marriage, a renewed appreciation for life, and a renewed appreciation for Him.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Paleo Intro

*Please note: I am not trying to convert anyone! I believe in this 100% but food is a sensitive subject and people are entitled to eat what they want.

Several people have asked me to share our new Paleo lifestyle, so I'm back to blogging with information about some big changes we've made since I talked to you all last. As most of you know, a little over a year ago, we gave up gluten in our house. That was definitely a big change for us, but the results were fantastic. We both noticed how much more energy we had and we didn't feel nearly as sluggish.

Around that same time, our dear friend Faith and her husband told us about their plans to go paleo. When she first told me about it, Mark was all about it. He wanted to dive right in, but my first thoughts were the same that I've heard many others say to me when I talk about going paleo: "There is no way I could go without grains/all forms of bread or pasta/dairy/cheese/corn/beans/sugar!" After listing those ingredients, I already know I have some people who have checked out. I honestly don't blame you, it's hard at times!

Faith shared the following video on her blog and it was a real eye opener for me. The creator of the video says they are frustrated with repeating themselves over and over again and I am not, but I think this video sums up most of my reasons for switching over.

Another conversion factor was when I started exploring the Everyday Paleo website (also suggested by Faith) and I started to see all of the things that you CAN have! We love to eat fresh or organic any chance we get so this lifestyle seemed to fit pretty well with us. I am also really happy to have the least picky husband ever! He will eat anything I set in front of him and he'll eat a ton!

Our dinners usually consist of some type of meat and LOTS and LOTS of veggies (3 or 4 a night). I would like to in the future give you a week long list of what we eat to give you a better idea of how it works for all meals of the day, but for now, you can check out the one that Sarah did on Everyday Paleo. Her "required reading" section gives her testimonial and lots of other good info (how to do paleo with kids).

Also by request, I am going to list all the things that are staples in our house and things that we have gotten rid of.


Organic meat (beef, pork, chicken, seafood)

Every type of vegetable we can get our hands on (easiest being broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, green beans, spinach...we have a variation of these every week)

Nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios)

Every type of fruit we can get our hands on (bananas, apples, pears, dates, plums, kiwis, mangoes, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, etc.)

Avocados (we eat at least 2 a week)

Eggs (lots! from our CSA)

Almond milk

Coconut milk

Coconut oil (you'll hear me talk more about this later. This and olive oil are all I cook with)



Lots of spices (be cautious of blends...sometimes there are hidden chemicals)

What we steer clear of:

Dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt, sour cream)

All grains (bread, pasta, rice)



Corn (Boo! You know how much I love it!)

Potatoes (Double BOO! I'm Irish! Although several articles I've read allow sweet potatoes)



Biggest challenge: Eating out!

Greatest benefit: Probably the healthiest I've felt in my entire life. Not that weight should be a key factor at all, but I have lost 10 pounds in the last month since going paleo. I get very full from meals, but never feel gross.

Do what you will with this information, but I will be sharing recipes that fit within this lifestyle that I find delicious. You can take it or leave it!

If you have questions, lay 'em on me! I love answering questions about going paleo!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


I'm currently swamped in grad school papers and working on completing my portfolio (so close to the end, but yet so far!) and I have to do several book reports (flashback to 4th grade). One of the books that I have to read is a book that my professor required us to purchase and read, nevermind the fact that it's a book that he is featured in...geez! However, despite all of that, I found a few quotes that really spoke to me today that I thought I'd share. The book is called "Leading the Way to Success" and while it is not written for the education field, there are several ideas that carry over well. Both of these quotes are from James Kouzes.
"The secret to succes is: Stay in love. Staying in love gives you the fire to really ignite other people, to see inside other people, to get more things done than other people. A person who is not in love doesn't really feel the kind of excitement that helps him to get ahead and to lead others to achieve. I don't know any other fire or anything in life that is more exhilarating and powerful a feeling than love is."

It's no secret that I want to be in an administrative role in the future in the schools whether that be a principal or curriculum coordinator or something else. All of my classes have dealt with leadership and I think staying passionate about teaching is a must in whatever position one is in.
"You find your great call where your great joy meets the world's great need. I think that comes as close to a formula for success as I can find. Watch your great joy. Watch the great need in the world that enables you to use your great joy and therein lies your calling."
I think of my brother when I read this, but I also think about how blessed I am to know my calling and am able to do something that I love. Regardless of what position I hold in the future, I have found success because I found a way to use my joy to meet the world's needs. Cheesy, I know. Just bare with me. I've had to do a lot of reading lately!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Look Back at 2010

As I look back on the year, I see some very significant (and not so significant) things that I got to experience this year that were unique to 2010. This really isn't for anybody else other my own self-reflection.

So many of my friends had major milestones this year (new marriage, new birth, new home) and I started to think how dim my year looked compared to theirs. But reflecting on my year made me realize that it really was a big year for me and there were so many things that I did this year that were milestones in their own way for me. I got to enjoy those milestones with my friends and family, but was able to create some new adventures for myself this year. There were some difficult spots throughout the year (goodbyes especially), but overall the past year was absolutely awesome! Here's a look at my 2010:

  • Cut the majority of gluten out of our diets
  • Went to see my very first NHL game in Nashville
  • Spent my spring break visiting Colorado Springs for the first time
  • Joined a CSA and had a blast with it!
  • Coordinated two weddings for couples in our small group
  • Celebrated the birth of many new babies in our lives....we have two BEAUTIFUL new neices and a handsome, first baby from our Smallies group
  • Experienced post-season baseball firsthand when the Reds played the Phillies in their first playoff appearance in 15 years!
  • Had to say goodbye to a dear friend for a year when he went to Iraq
  • Had to say goodbye to my brother for a year when he went to spread God's love all over the world
  • Celebrated turning 26 years old with good friends and family
  • Watched Mark crush his past record in the Firefighter's Combat Challenge
  • Made two trips down to Alabama to watch football games
  • Refinanced our house
  • Celebrated 6 wonderful years of marriage with my best friend
  • Went back to grad school while Mark went to school for both of his Firefighter Certifications
  • Visited the Football Hall of Fame....and loved it!
  • Suffered through the Bengals season
  • Watched the World Equestrian Games and all of the fanfare that came with it come and go
  • Skiied with some of my favorite women for several days

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Baking the Holidays Jolly!

I spent the better portion of yesterday carrying on a tradition that was started when I was just a little girl. My mom and I have decided this is where my love of all things in the kitchen most likely started. Every year, my family would make a variety of Christmas cookies together, we'd place them all in tins, and pass them out to family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors.

A few years ago, in an effort to save some money but still make a meaningful gift, I continued this tradition with my only family. Not sure how much money it really saves because I like to get elaborate and those ingredients can add up. However, I still like to think that I'm saving some money.

Here are all of my ingredients laid out.

After 6 hours of baking, a slight sugar coma, and a very sore back (I sound old), this is what I got as a result:

These are probably my favorite. Turtle Pretzels!

It's a Rolo melted on a pretzel with a pecan on top. Yum! I could pop these all day!

Chocolate Covered Pretzels

Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies

(My only GF endeavor, although they are probably way too cross contaminated at that point to be considered GF)

Russian Tea Cakes

Candy Cane Cookies
These cookies were one of my favorites as a kid. They actually take a very delicate hand.

Eggnog Snickerdoodles

Filled up all of my tins so they will be ready to pass out. I got two sizes of tins. These are the smaller ones, but they still held quite a bit.

Finished product!

I don't know how my mom got a lot of her tins back, but I'd love to know the secret. My neighbors always give them back though!

I absolutely love our little family of 3 (counting Guinness), but during the holidays, I always look forward to the excitement that comes with having kids during the holidays. I cannot wait for the day when we grow our family so that they can help make cookies with me at Christmas time and hopefully enjoy this tradition of the holidays as much as I do.

What kinds of traditions are you carrying on with your own family?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Let's Say Thanks

Let's Say Thanks

A wonderful way to say thank you to the troops and to let them know that you are thinking of them during the holidays.

Xerox prints them off for you and sends them to a soldier. You don't get to pick the soldier, but you can know that it's going to mean a lot to someone this year.