Friday, August 28, 2015

Cucumber Chicken Tomato Feta Salad

This was dinner yummy!  I have seen variations of this salad online, but created this one from what sounded good to me!  I spiralized the cucumber so that I had noodles.  I tried two settings, and liked the second setting where the noodles were a bit thicker.  I diced a Roma tomato, and added some crumbled feta cheese as well.  I bought a rotisserie chicken at the store last night and cut it all up for salads or wraps.  It made a nice addition of protein to this salad.

Since I have gone wheat/grain/sugar free, salad dressings that are good for me are hard to find.  I just had to start making them myself.  Tonight's dressing was a homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette.  It was so delicious.  I put the salad in a bowl, drizzled the dressing on it, and tossed it all together.  I added the feta cheese last.  This was so delicious, I can't wait to make it again!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Meal Planning Just Got Easier…


If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that I am big into meal planning! My husband bought me my first cooking software for Christmas 2005, so I have been at this for nine years.  It has been life changing for me, and has been a life saver.  I am not a great cook, and resorted to box meals many times.  I never could think of anything to cook, so we ate the same junk all the time.  When I got my software and could store my recipes on my computer, actually put them in menus, and make a grocery list, life changed drastically for this girl.  I started to love cooking and tried new recipes.

Sadly, over the years my software has run into some problems.  If you want to update you have to pay for it, and many promised features are either not working, or have never been implemented.  I won’t tell you the name of the software in this post, because I’m not interested in causing them any trouble.  But the glitches have been frustrating, and I’ve been looking for an alternative for quite some time.

My friend posted a link on Facebook the other day to an online site she uses for meal planning.  It’s called Plan To Eat.  I watched the video tutorials and I was immediately sold.  You can capture recipes from the internet on this program SO easily.  You can input your own personal recipes from your files.  You can plan menus for the whole month, but just shop for one week if you want.  The program creates a grocery list with ingredients listed the way you typed them in. No more weird brands like my old software had.  You can also create a staples list of things like toilet paper, shampoo, milk, eggs, butter, etc. You can check that each time you make a grocery list, and just check the items you need for that shop.  You can friend people on the site so that you can share recipes and menu plans.  It is so much easier to share recipes here than on my old software.  You can go to the site on your phone, and save it to your home screen so that it acts as an app.  I can take my phone with me to the stores and do my shopping right from that if I want.  There is no need to print out a grocery/staple list anymore unless I want to.  You can divide your grocery list by stores you shop at, AND all of your items are divided into different areas of each store like: produce, dairy, dry goods, frozen, meat.  It is SO cool. 

I’ve spent the last couple days capturing recipes, and typing in recipes from my own files.  I have planned my first menu for just one week, and I’ll be able to shop with it for the first time this weekend.  I’m so excited. 

When I updated to a new version of my old software, it would cost me nearly $100 each time.  That was frustrating when things didn’t work or features that were promised were not there.  At Plan to Eat, I signed up for a 30 day trial period.  After that I can either subscribe by month or by year.  It is only $39 for a year, so I think I’m going to go with that. If you do it monthly, it’s just $4.95.  It is $40/$5 you will never regret spending.  Menu planning has changed my life.  I never have to worry about what’s for dinner anymore.  With the whole month planned I can print a copy, post it on my fridge, and just check every evening to make sure I have any meat out that needs to be thawed, or do any prep that needs to be done ahead of time.  It’s such a good feeling.

Go here to check out Plan to Eat, and start your free trial today.  If I know you and you decide to do this, let me know so we can share recipes and meal plans! It will also be easier for me to post recipes here, so I’ll be sure to do that!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

It’s Been A While…Again

I don’t know why I can’t seem to keep up with this blog! Four months have gone by since my last post, and a lot has happened.  In my last post I mentioned starting a new eating lifestyle.  I have gone grain free, wheat free, sugar free, and I have limited my carbs and dairy as well.  I noticed changes right away.  Here are a couple pictures…the first ones were taken as beginning shots.  The second set is just two months in.  I’m feeling so much better too!


IMG_7697    IMG_7700

Two months in…

IMG_8014    IMG_8012

Not a huge difference, but I can definitely see changes.  Those jeans were a bit tight on me at that point, but I can hardly keep them up now. Smile Here is one more picture taken the end of November.  I can definitely tell a difference from the picture of me on the beach in the last post. WOOHOO!


Another really cool thing is that I became a Jamberry Nail Consultant.  If you have never tried these wraps, you have got to! They are vinyl wraps that go right on your nail with heat.  There is no dry time, no chipping, etc.  There are so many fun designs to choose from, and you get 2 pedis and 2 manis on each sheet. The wraps will last 2 weeks or more on your nails! Here is a picture of my first jamicure!


If you would like to see what Jamberry is all about, check out my website! You can find me at  I hope you’ll stop by.  The new spring/summer catalog is coming out on March 1st, and there are some gorgeous new wraps! If you’re on Facebook I’d LOVE to do a party with you.  The hostess rewards for Jamberry are phenomenal! Here is what our new sample/accent nail sheet looks like!


So that’s the short of what’s been happening since October! I’ll be back soon to tell you more!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A Few Changes…


It’s been a while since I have been able to write a post for this blog.  I have much to tell you few who read my blog.  I’d like to tell you about the amazing events surrounding the celebration of Madison’s 18th birthday.  It was truly the most memorable of all of her birthdays for me.  My darling immediate family went above and beyond to make it an absolute joyful time for me…in spite of the fact that I miss this girl beyond words.  I will write a post about it soon and share some very special pictures.

The kids started back to school for their second year of online studies.  We got a much better start this year! The students are staying on track, and I’m happy to report are doing very well.  I love having them home with me, but having so much less of the burden to make sure they are learning.  I just didn’t feel qualified anymore.  I still oversee everything they are learning and I’m able to raise a ruckus if something doesn’t sit right with me.  I can write more about this later as well.

Probably the biggest change in my life is my drastic eating lifestyle change.  I got turned on to a page on Facebook called Wheat Belly.  I started to research it, bought the books, read testimonials, and viewed before and after pictures of people who have eliminated wheat from their diets. I.was.sold.  I bought the cookbooks, emptied my home of all things wheat (it is in SO much), and away we went.  I am not on a gluten free diet…there is a difference. On a gluten free diet you can still have some grains, and I have eliminated all of them.   The wheat we get today is genetically modified and wreaks havoc on so many systems in our bodies.  It can cause fat to accumulate in our abdomens…hence the name “Wheat Belly.”  Amazingly, people have adapted this lifestyle in their homes, and the transformation is incredible.  I have been on it for nearly a month.  I went through a withdrawal period (there are appetite stimulating opiates in today’s wheat that are like drugs in your system), and that was less than desirable.  I felt miserable for a few days.  But now…my constant joint/muscle pain is gone, my clothes are getting loose, I feel great, my appetite has decreased in a major way, I’m eating healthy stuff, I can think more clearly, and my blood sugars are coming down.  This may even allow me to eliminate all of my medications within the year.  That is an incredible thought for me….no more insulin shots? I’ll take it!

I probably won’t turn this into a food blog, but I intend to post a great deal about my pursuit of healthy living. I’ll share recipes I’ve discovered, blogs that have been a great help to me, and maybe some progress pictures! I don’t think I’ll ever share my before pictures, but we’ll see…

As I said before, wheat is in SO much of what we buy now, that it was tricky to eliminate.  I also eliminated refined sugar, and limited my carbs and dairy drastically.  You’d be amazed at how much is still out there to eat, and how DELICIOUS it is.  I am no longer craving sugar or carbs, and I have not had a coke in over a month.  That is HUGE for me.  Coke is like alcohol to me.  I LOVE it, and it’s been the hardest habit for me to break.  I’d take an ice cold coke over almost anything any day.  But I can now sit in a restaurant (it’s the only time I allow my kids to have a soda…because I can’t have it in our home), and not try to sneak a sip of my kids’ drinks.  I’m happy with my lemon water…truly happy.  I’m happy because this is working for me, and I’m seeing results.

I’ll be back to share meal plans, menu ideas, a typical lunch for me, and a yummy hot cereal recipe that is rocking my mornings! I never dreamed something would appeal to me more than oatmeal!

One of my most favorite meals is spaghetti.  I didn’t think I’d ever get to have it again, because I can’t have any kind of pasta.  What a bummer.  Then I heard about the Spiralizer, and making “pasta” out of vegetables.  I am happy to report that I had spaghetti for dinner last night with zucchini noodles! It was the BEST I’ve ever had, and there was no guilt afterwards.  It was perfectly healthy.  I did not have that bloated full feeling you get after eating a big plate of pasta. I just had a wonderful full feeling that carried me through to bedtime.  No more evening snacks for me! Not because I can’t, I just don’t need one.  I’m not hungry anymore. Here is a picture of my spaghetti! It was so delicious!


So….I’ll pop in more often, because I have so much to share!  I’m getting healthy in other areas of my life, and I’ll share that with you as well.  Great things are happening at our casa!  Be back soon!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Sacred Ground…

Today was the day. I didn’t think it would come this soon.  I was getting ready for work when a call came through from the nurse that helped me deliver Madison.  She called to let me know that the room was available if there was any way that I could come to the hospital right then.  Thankfully I have a flexible job and I was able to get my things together and head right for the hospital.  I first called my husband to let him know that I could wait until Friday and he would be able to come with me…but our nurse would not be able to be there with us.  Or, I could go today by myself and she would be there.  He thought it was really important that I get to see her, so I went alone.  I could not hold back the tears and my heart raced with fear.

I met Debbie just outside the elevators on the second floor and we walked to the Labor & Delivery unit.  She asked if the spur of the moment was better than having too much time to think about it and I agreed.   We chatted small talk as we walked slowly toward room 225.  I just walked in…I have only stood outside that room since the day I left the hospital empty handed, without my baby girl.  Just a small green memory box in my hands…I wanted to throw that box.  That room has been a source of fear for me all these years…the subject of countless recurring nightmares, and the cause of some very difficult emotional and mental problems that led to deeper psychiatric problems.  Without going into detail, I didn’t even think of returning to that room EVER until her 16th birthday.  The timing has just not been right until now.

Until today…I walked in and set my things on the counter.  I turned and faced the bed and swiftly dissolved into tears.  This room…the very place where I lost my biggest dream, my biggest hope, where the very worst day of my life occurred. It was surreal to be there again.  I sobbed and could hardly catch my breath.  The door was closed and Debbie stood nearby in silence.  Then I just started talking.  We shared memories back and forth for the next 30 minutes.  I pointed around the room to various spots and remarked about what happened there.  The corner where they took her to weigh, bathe, and dress her.  The window spot where my Daddy carefully carried his 9th grandchild to sing “Jesus Loves Me” to her like he did every other grandchild.  The bathroom where I stood in the shower the morning of her birth, sobbing and staring at a very pregnant belly that now held a dead child.  The bed…that I was confined to most of my time there because of the meds taken to relieve the pain of back labor, and the pain of the damage to my body afterwards.  A chair in the same spot where I woke to find Debbie praying for me when everyone had left the room for a lunch break.

After our time of talking I asked if I could take some pictures.  Debbie said she would leave me alone to do that, and she left and closed the door.  There I was…left to face my biggest fear…alone.  I covered every inch of that room with my camera.  What memories are not forever etched on my mind, I will be able to see in pictures.  There have been changes…but it’s the same place.  The only place my sweet girl touched.  The place where I got to hold her and love on her for a few glorious hours.  I wept and laid my hands on the end of the bed…that spot where we laid her to undress her to her diaper and prepare her to leave us.  We counted toes and fingers, planted enough kisses to last a lifetime (is that even possible?), wrapped her in a new blanket and watched in utter despair and heartache as she was wheeled out of our room and we got our last glimpse of her.

When I was done taking pictures, Debbie came back in and one of the aids took a picture of us together.  It is the one I will share with you.  This angel of mercy who cared for me and prayed over me in my time of need.  This sister in Christ who didn’t normally work afternoons, and “just happened to be there” that day. This sweet lady who remembers that day like it was yesterday…just like I do.  This one who made this incredible visit possible for me.


Before we left the room, we both laid our hands on the end of the bed, and Debbie prayed over me again.  We made our way down the hall and visited the room where we got the news that our dear little girl had died.  I did not need to stay there long.  That room was somewhat “redeemed” to me when our little niece Athena was born there almost to the day eleven years after that horrible night. On our way back through Labor & Delivery I stopped to take a picture of the room number.


Then Debbie walked me down to the front entrance of the hospital, we shared one last hug, and I left.

I walked on sacred ground today.  A very special little girl darted in and out of our lives in that room and I will never forget.  We celebrate her and remember her pretty much alone these days…as a family.  There is no mention of her or remembrance of her to us by either side of our extended families.  It has hurt me deeply for years, but I am ready to let that go.  We are happy to have her all to ourselves and celebrate her life the way we want to.  I have a dear friend that makes jewelry and she made me a special pair of peridot earrings (August birthstone) to honor this year that Madison would have graduated, and her 18th birthday.  I put them on this morning before I even got the call to go to the hospital.  God knew…

I am so blessed to have had this opportunity today, and I’m so grateful to Debbie for making it possible for me.  It is not a scary place to me anymore.  I don’t think I’ll have those dreams anymore.  Today the sunbeams were shining through the windows, and it was a place of peace for this Mama.  It was a time for remembering the beautiful moments of that day and how God worked it all out for our good.  I’m so grateful…

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Winds of Change Are Blowing…

Here it is nearly the end of summer and I have not posted! It’s been a busy summer.  There is a lot of change going on in our household.  Some of it has been tough…that refining type of change I mentioned in a post some months ago.  God continuously works on our hearts weeding out those things that don’t belong in our lives.  We have watched circumstances in our lives change all around us.  My job at church has changed, my husband’s job has changed, relationships have changed…and sometimes those changes are the hardest to take.  I’m not personally a fan of change…I like my little routine and I like to stick to it.  God has shown us this year that some change is good no matter how painful it is.  Often we don’t see that until much later and are able to look back on the ways God has worked for our good.

Here we are three weeks from the start of school.  That is one area in which there will hopefully be no change this year.  The kids will be part of the virtual online academy again.  They enjoyed it last year and did really well.  I liked being less hands on though I was still right here with them as they did their studies.  I just didn’t feel equipped to take on high school being the principle teacher, so this has been a very good experience for us.  The kids had a phenomenal mentor teacher, and really great content teachers as well.  I especially adored the English teachers.  It was a joy for me to watch them make writers out of my Lovies.  There was some pretty amazing writing going on in this household this past year. I was so proud because I did not emphasize that particular skill while I was teaching the kids…I concentrated more on their actual handwriting and making sure they kept up the penmanship as they both have beautiful penmanship. So I was glad to see them embrace the writing assignments this year, though difficult, and do really well on them.  Both children got 100% on their final writing projects which count as their final exams.  I was a pretty proud Mama.

Probably the biggest change coming up for us is going to be a dietary change.  I’ve been researching wheat and its effects on our diet and our health.  I have several health issues including diabetes and high blood pressure.  For quite some time I have had full body joint pain and headaches.  As I researched wheat and read testimonials of people who have eliminated it from their diets, people just like me were testifying that the same symptoms I’m struggling with were disappearing within weeks of eliminating wheat from their diets.  Some lost high numbers in pounds, others went off all medications pertaining to diabetes and high blood pressure.  Well…that was enough for me to really want to go for it.  I’m tired of not having energy and feeling crummy most of the time.  And I HATE doing insulin shots…four a day people! I also have to stick my fingers four times a day to check my blood sugar.  I’d do almost anything not to have to do that anymore! My mom gave me a copy of the book “Wheat Belly” and I’m furiously reading it and getting ready to purge my house of all things wheat.  I’ve already collected some recipes, and I’m looking forward to planning my first menu and doing our first wheat free grocery shop! I’m hoping this blog will evolve into one where I can share some great new recipes and meal plans and how the elimination of wheat (possibly dairy and sugar as well) are going for our family.  We’re all on board and excited to get started.

As always, August is a tough month for me.  This one has been more difficult than past years as this one holds a couple big milestones for us.  Madison would have graduated with the class of 2014, and she would have turned 18.  To honor those milestones we took some special photos in the cemetery.  We borrowed a friend’s lovely white cap/gown to do our special photo shoot, and it was just between my husband and me.  I will make copies to hang in our home…but it was really just for my Mama’s heart and the fact that I’ll never have a senior picture of her to hang here.  It was a very emotional time for me, but we were able to capture exactly what I wanted and I’m very pleased with the results.  I’ll share one with you…I could not keep my composure, so the emotion is written all over my face, but I love this shot and how the sun was shining on the beautiful gown hanging in her tree. I nearly fell to my knees when my husband hung it there because it was just so extraordinarily beautiful. Here it is…


Ok…one more…this is the beautiful blanket she was wrapped in when she was born.  The hospital let us keep anything that touched her, so this is one of my most precious possessions…


I have recently been in contact with one of the nurses that was with me when I delivered Madison.  She is arranging for me to go visit the room where I had her.  I’ve never been back and I’m certain it will be an emotional visit, but I’m so grateful for this opportunity to be in that room where I met her and held her for the most precious hours of my life.  I’ll keep you posted.

Hopefully I’ll have time to post more often as our family gets back into a routine soon, and life is lived out in our home for the glory of God!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

End of School Year and Another Mini Trip

My Lovies are finishing up their coursework this weekend, and are preparing to take finals next week. After that, summer break will be upon us. I’m hoping to have more time to blog over the summer, and more time to take pictures with my new camera.  I got a Canon Rebel for Christmas, and so far taking pictures with it has been really fun!

My nephew got married last weekend, so we got to spend some time on Lake Michigan, one of our favorite places on earth.  I will NEVER need an ocean.  I’d take Lake Michigan over the ocean any day.  There is just something about it…it’s so special to us. We were able to take a walk on the beach, stick our feet in the water, walk on a pier with a light house, watch the boats come in off of the lake, and experience our first sunburn of 2014. Smile  It was a great weekend, and we got some nice pictures.  I’ll share them with you…

My three Loves outside of our hotel…


My Lovies at the boat marina that was next to our hotel…


My Love at the marina…


Me at the marina…I loved the white adirondack chairs!


My Love and I at the marina…


        My Lovies on the beach…       

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A walk on the pier to the lighthouse. You can see Morgan in the dark outfit at the back of the group…


Sticking our feet in the water…super cold!


So….after this coming week I will officially have a junior and sophomore in high school! Time is going way too quickly.  The kids are growing up way too fast.  I love these moments we get to spend together in places we love.  There is no one on earth I’d rather spend time with than these three people God has given to me to live life with!

I’ll be back soon to post our summer shenanigans!