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Monday, July 30, 2012

Here We Go... and Ranch Jack Chicken

Why is eating right/dieting/living a healthy lifestyle...whatever you want to call it... so hard for some women?  I despise (and no, that is not too strong of a word) those women that LOVE healthy food.  How is that possible?  Who doesn't like raw cake batter or cookie dough?  Who really wants to blot the grease off their pizza?  Who honestly prefers celery over french fries?  C'mon now!

But the time has come (ahem) again, where I realize I must do something about my fat.  And unfortunately I normally have no major motivations to lose weight.  My husband, for whatever reason, still finds me attractive.  My oldest son always tells me he thinks I'm pretty.  I wish my doctor would even tell me my blood pressure is thorugh the roof or I'm about to have a heart attack from high cholesterol.  But no... always great checkups.  So, I have to make the decision to do it for me.  Oh yeah, and there is our vacation to Mexico coming up in about 6 months.  Wooooo hoooo!  I'm determined to feel comfortable and confident on the nude beach this time around.  I am SO kidding.... the thought of me on a nude beach even made ME cringe.  But I am determined to feel confident in my swimsuit at least.

I'm back to Atkins.  Say what you will about it but it works for me.  I am borderline hypoglycemic (get really shaky when I don't eat a lot of protein) so Atkins actually works well for me.  And I have had tests run about a month into the diet before to learn that my blood pressure and cholesterol levels are still good.  The only problem is if I go off the low carb eating I tend to gain a lot of weight back.  I think this is more of a mindset than a body thing though.  I think after not having carbs for a couple of months I feel like I can eat them in moderation but then I go overboard.  The funny thing is I never even crave them after not having them for a week or so.  I actually feel awesome when I am doing Atkins, even without working out.  I have so much energy and it helps that I lose weight like crazy while doing it.  Hopefully this time around I will stick with it until I reach my goal and then slowly add back in good carbs or at least just be able to maintain the weight.  We shall see. 

I will try and post my progress each week... that should hold me accountable.  Wish me luck!

My friend posted this on Pinterest the other day.  It is SO true!  Good thing I started today or I wouild have had to postpone to next Monday. Ha!



And you can expect most of my recipes in the near future to be low carb as well.  Here is one I plan on making tonight and only because I know I have all of the ingredients at home and I don't have to go by the store.  I'll let you know how it turns out.  Looks super easy!

Ranch Jack Chicken
3 boneless,skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
6 strips bacon,fried crisp, and crumbled 1/4 cup prepared ranch dressing
1/3 cup shredded monterey/jack cheese

Cooking Instructions:
Fry chicken strips in butter til done.Turn into a lightly greased casserole dish.Pour dressing over chicken. Then put crumbled bacon on, then the shredded cheese.  Broil until cheese is melted and lightly browned.



*Jewels

Friday, July 27, 2012

Be Quiet, Be Still and Easy Chicken with Cream Cheese and Bacon

If you were to ask someone to describe me I guarantee you one of the things they would mention is that I am a fast talker.  I even remember a guy in high school commenting to my friend and I that we had our own language becuase we talked so fast no one could understand us.  I think fast, talk fast, plan fast and get it done fast.  I think this part of my makeup has definitely been a strong skill for me in the work place, being on top of things at home and definitely with raising kids.  I am always armed with a plan and ready to go, go, go. 

While being fast can be a huge advantage in most areas of my life I have learned it is a barrier to my relationship with Christ.  I have always been jealous of those people who hear from God.  Why was I always having one sided conversations with  Him?  I would pray and seek answers and while I would feel like he typically answered my prayers in some way He would never speak directly to me. 

Side Note ~ Now, I have to pause and say this might sound like crazy talk to someone who is not seeking a deeper relationship with Christ.  But, I promise you, if you reach out to Him, He is there.  He is real.  He is present in your life every single day.  He is just waiting for you to let Him in.

I was going through a really difficult time in my life a few years back and I remember sitting in my bathroom literally crying out to God, "Tell me what to do.  Where are you?  Why won't you just tell me what to do?  I am giving this up to you.  Help me.  Please just tell me what to do."  These words were pouring out of me faster than I could even think them.  (Let's just say if anyone was standing there watching me they probably would have thought they had a nutcase on their hands.)  All of a sudden, just like that, all of my thoughts and words and crying came to an abrupt halt.  There was complete silence.  And for the first time ever I heard God speak to me.  His words were this, "Be quiet.  Be still."  And that was all.  You would think after waiting so long to have God speak back to me I would have been disappointed that this was all He had to say.  But I cannot begin to tell you what an overwhelming sense of peace I had in that moment.  It was as if I was carrying a 50 lb bag on my back and He came over and just took it from me.  Relief and  joy swept over me and through me.

The only reason I am sharing such an intimate experience with you is because I so desperately want others to know how real God is.  He wants to take your pain away.  He wants to heal you.  I have learned that it is hard for me to hear God or feel his presence when I am so caught up in my busy day to day life.  I have to take time to just be still and know that He is there.

Today I encourage you to be quiet and be still.  Take 5 minutes to just be in His presence.  I think you will be amazed at how He will reveal himself to you.





I'm trying to keep up with my promise of posting a recipe with every post.  Here is a new dish I made the other night and it was pretty tasty if I say so myself.  Another low carb one for y'all.


Chicken with Cream Cheese and Bacon (EASY)

4 medium sized chicken breasts
4 oz (1/2 block) cream cheese
6 bacon strips (approximately)
onion powder
garlic powder
sea salt


First you flatten out the thawed chicken breasts by slicing them through the middle. Than you line half of them in a greased baking dish, cut the cream cheese in cubes, and place a cube of cheese in the middle of each chicken breast.  Top each breast with the other breast half.  Sprinkle w/onion, garlic and salt and top with raw bacon slices.  (Go easy on the salt since the bacon is salty.) 

Bake in the oven at 375 for 30 minutes (or longer until chicken is cooked through).

Sorry I forgot to take a picture. 
P.S. This dish was kid approved!


Jewels*

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

God Made Us Sisters, Hearts Made Us Friends and Creamy Chicken with Mushrooms

My sister and I haven't always gotten along.  If you would have told me 15 years ago that she would one day be my best friend I would have laughed in your face.  And then I would have shown you my favorite teddy bear whose arms and legs she had just ripped off.  Ha!  But it's true!  She is one of my best friends today and I thank God every day for her unconditional love and constant support in my life.


My sister was born with the most severe case of spina bifida.  Most babies born with spina bifida have to have shunts put in their heads or are confined to wheelchairs or worse, don't live into adulthood.  She has defied all odds by living a completely "normal" life despite her many back and foot surgeries.  She married an incredible man and went on to have three beautiful and healthy children. 


I tell you her background so you can get a small glimpse of how special she really is.  And how much she has overcome.  If you met my sister for the first time you would never know she has gone through numerous surgeries and chronic pain, that she somehow manages to deal with on a daily basis.  You would just see a beautiful woman raising three beautiful kids who somehow completed college while raising those kids and working a full time job as a youth director.  You would see a woman who has an unfailing and unashamed love and passion for Jesus.  You would see a woman who always does for others before she does for herself. 


The point of this post is not only to brag about my sister, but to tell you how deeply important sibling relationships are.  My sister and I are lucky that we have a lot in common (faith, raising kids at the same time, etc.) and I know not all siblings have things like that in common.  But I encourage you today to develop or deepen your relationship with your siblings.  If you are an only child or already have a close relationship with your sibling(s) I encourage you to help your children form that relationship with each other from a young age.  That is one of the most precious relationships God has given us.  I pray that one day my boys are as close as my sister and I are.



Now, as promised I am posting the recipe I made last night.  Ladies, if you want to impress your man you HAVE to make this yummy dish!  (P.S. It's low carb.)


Creamy Chicken with Mushrooms (2 Servings)


2 large chicken breasts, pounded/flattened as much as possible (this is important)
*I use a meat pounder.  This is a picture of the one I use.  And I put the thawed out chicken in a big ziplock bag so the juice does not go everywhere.





2 T butter, divided
1 T olive oil
salt and pepper
1-2 C thickly sliced mushrooms
1/4 C chopped onion
1 garlic clove- I just used 1/2 T of the minced garlic in a jar
1/2 t each, dried basil and parsley
2-3 T dry white wine (optional, but not in my book)
1/4 C heavy cream

In one pan, melt 1 T of the butter over med high heat and sautee the mushrooms and onion until golden brown and starting to crisp. Turn off the heat and stir in the crushed garlic. Set aside. (As a note, I'm sure you could remove the mushrooms to a plate and cook the chicken in the same pan!)

Salt and pepper the breasts (go easy on the salt, mine was a little salty). In another pan, melt the remaining butter and the olive oil over medium heat and add the chicken breasts when butter is hot. Cook, turning as needed, until a good golden brown and "just" done. Remove to a plate and keep warm. To the drippings in the pan, add the wine, the herbs, the cream and the mushroom/onion mixture. Stir well and simmer until it begins to thicken a little, a few minutes. When it reaches the desired thickness, pour over the warm chicken and serve immediately topped with more parsely (fresh or dried).


Here is a picture of the final product (with grilled asparagus)!  Enjoy!!!


*Jewels





Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Unfamiliar Paths and Taco Soup

Do you ever find yourself going down a different path than you intended?  Do you get frustrated when things don't go just the way you planned?  I know I do.  I am a planner by nature.  I love being in control of my life and always knowing what my next move will be.  God has shown me time and time...and time...again that He sometimes has something better for me than what I plan. 

I wish I could say that when God takes control of my life everything is perfect.  And that when I am taken off my planned path God makes everything magically work out for me... but He doesn't.  I have come to realize that He wants me... no, he NEEDS me to go through some things to make me the woman He wants me to be.  I have learned that I should stop focusing on what I want to be, what my husband wants me to be, what my kids want me to be, what my friends want me to be.  I have to follow Him and His plan for my life.  I have to allow Him to make me the person He created me to be.  I have to stop trying to please everyone around me and start trying to please God. 

I believe the devil is real and he attacks us where it hurts the most.  In my life I have experienced his ruin first hand.  Every single time, without fail, I start reading a devotional or spending more time in worship, the devil comes in and hits me where it hurts the most.  He tries to tear apart my most precoius realationships.  As a result I find myself pulling away from God, hesitating to start another devotional, not wanting to go to church every Sunday just so my life can be easier.  But you know what?  God is real too.  And he has proven Himself to me countless times.  And the truth is I ALWAYS come out stronger in the end when I push through those difficult times knowing that God has something really great for me on the other side.

My friend sends me devotionals every now and then and this verse was so perfect for this topic I had to share it:

"I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths ... I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them." Isaiah 42:16 (NIV)

I have decided to let God take me down whatever path He chooses for me.  And I will praise Him the entire way!


And as promised I am sharing another receipe!  This one is super easy and my husband asks me to make it all the time!


Taco Soup
1 lb hamburger meat
2 small cans tomato sauce
1 packet taco seasoning
2 cans kidney beans (drained)
3 cups water
Sour Cream, Shredded Cheese, Tortilla Chips to garnish

Brown hamburger meat and drain.
Mix water, tomato sauce, drained kidney beans, hamburger meat, taco seasoning in a large pot and bring to a boil.  After it comes to a boil turn it on low and let it simmer for 20-30 minutes.
Serve in bowls and garnish with tortilla chips, cheese and sour cream (and even chives!).
Yum!  Here is a picture from the internet and mine looks similar, minus the corn.  :)



Jewels*

Friday, July 20, 2012

Thankful and Paula Deen Banana Pudding

My boys both got colds a couple of weeks back and of course I caught it as well.  (Funny how Garrett never caught it, hmmmmm.)  Then I woke up Saturday morning with the dreaded and awful UTI.  Ladies, if you have never had one of those you should be super grateful.  They are painful!  So after getting on antibiotics for that my cold got worse and moved down to my chest.  Monday afternoon I go to the doctor and find out I have bronchitis.  I have never had bronchitis before but it is not fun.  I was so incredibly drained, couldn't sleep because of the coughing and felt like an awful mom for not being able to do anything fun with my boys.  And on top of it all I missed 2 days from my new job.  Ugh.  Let's just say it wasn't a very fun week.

My double sickness this week led me to reflect on how thankful I am for my health.  And how thankful I am for the health of my boys.  I hear about all of these terminally ill kids and it is impossible for me to relate to their parents.  I can't begin to imagine the pain of watching your child suffer.  This week (and hopefully always) I am so grateful for health and it motivates me to attempt to live a healthier lifestyle to maintain that health.  After all, is this not a good reason to be healthy?


Also, I have decided to start adding a recipe with each blog.  I have a lot of friends who often ask for new recipes so they can change it up in the kitchen.  Anything I post will be something I have made myself and gotten a stamp of approval on from friends or family.  And speaking of trying to live a healthier lifestyle, here is Paula Deen's "Not Yo' Momma's Banana Pudding" recipe.  Hahahaha!  My friends even requested that I make it again this weekend for a get together... enjoy!!!




Ingredients          

1 12-ounce container frozen whipped topping thawed, or equal amount sweetened whip
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
2 cup milk
1 5-ounce box instant French vanilla pudding
6-8 bananas, sliced
2 bags Pepperidge Farm Chessmen cookies

Directions

Line the bottom of a 13x9x2-inch dish with 1 bag of cookies and layer bananas on top.
In a bowl, combine the milk and pudding mix and blend well using a handheld electric mixer. Using another bowl, combine the cream cheese and condensed milk together and mix until smooth. Fold the whipped topping into the cream cheese mixture. Add the cream cheese mixture to the pudding mixture and stir until well blended. Pour the mixture over the cookies and bananas and cover with the remaining cookies. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


*Jewels

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Marriage ~ The Good, Bad and Ugly

I am certainly no expert on marriage, but after almost 10 years I certainly have an opinion or two... okay, as always a lot more than that... about the subject.  If anyone ever asks me about marriage I tell them the truth about my experience and it may not be pretty but it's reality. 

Everyone says the first year of marriage is the honeymoon stage.  I like to call the first year of my marriage more like the hellacious stage.  Haha!  But seriously (ha!).  It wasn't all bad.  It's just that I was 19 and moving 3,000 miles away from everything and everyone I had always known.  And oh yeah, I would likely be alone half the time with Garrett being out to sea.  It was hard.  Really hard.  Fortunately, it worked for us because we went through most of the really hard stuff the first several years of our marriage.  I know not everyone will have that same experience. 

I think you can get married young, grow and "find yourselves" (hate that expression) together OR I think you can "find yourself" in your 20's and go into a relationship with the high standards you have set for your future spouse.  I don't think one way is better than the other.  But no matter which path you choose, regardless of what some people say, marriage can be just plain hard!

Here are some things I have learned about marriage along the way.  I hope you find them useful.

  1. Don't go into a marriage expecting to change your spouse.  They are who they are.  If you want something fundamental changed about them (i.e. they turn into an alcoholic, they become addicted to pornography, etc.) that is when you turn to God and pray for the change.
  2. Don't retaliate.  This could range from unfaithfulness to spending money to doing something just because you know it annoys them.
  3. You are not always right.  Neither is he.  Sometimes both of you are wrong.
  4. Don't waste your energy trying to make everything even.  For example, he had a guys' night so you "deserve" a girls' night.
  5. Let him enjoy his hobbies.
  6. Try and find some interest in his hobbies or passion.  This will allow you to have more in common later in the marriage.
  7. Bedroom time is not always as easy to find after kids.  Be creative and make the time!
  8. Take vacations, even if it's just a weekend away.  This is SO important, especially after kids.
  9. Keep the humor in your relationship.  I love laughing and that is part of why I love spending time with Garrett.
  10. Be yourself.  Show your spouse who you really are before you get married (if you aren't already).  Or later on down the road you may hear this from your husband:  "What do you mean you don't love watching every single football game with me during football season?"  Or this is my personal favorite from Garrett, "Once that ring went on your finger you stopped....." (and he fills in the blank with anything that comes to mind).
  11. Get on the same page about parenting BEFORE you have kids.
  12. Get on the same page about religion BEFORE you get married.
  13. Don't have unrealistic expectations for your spouse. 
  14. Don't expect your husband to be the same as your friend's husband.  You never know what's going on behind closed doors at that friend's house.
  15. Learn to love your in-laws if you don't already.  It will make your marriage so much easier.
  16. Spend as much time together as you can.  My experience has shown that spending time together, not apart,solidifies the relationship.
  17. Be the kind of wife/mother you want your daughter to be or son to choose. 
  18. Communicate, communicate, communicate about the good and bad!
  19. Don't be scared to age together.  It's okay that your idea of a perfect date night might be sitting at home watching a show on DVR rather than going to a bar until 2 am. 
  20. Make God the center of your marriage, even if your spouse is not doing the same.  I can't even put into words how life changing this was for my marriage.

Just some tid bits from my experience.

*Jewels





Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Distractions

I woke up this morning and was just about to get in the shower when I heard Ethan fussing.  Now that he is teething he often fusses a little throughout the night but tends to go right back to sleep.  So there I am standing in the bathroom with one foot on the tile floor and one foot on the carpet in the hallway, half asleep, debating whether I should take a shower first or get him up and feed him first.  That fussing turned into pitiful crying and my mind was made up. 

Normally I feed him while watching the news in the morning but I was so tired I didn't even think about turning it on today.  Instead I snuggled him up in my robe and just stared at that precious face while he happily drank his bottle.  After all, how could you not want to stare at this precious face?



I realized in that moment that I let myself get distracted far too easily when I am with my boys.  Sometimes I am on my phone or reading a magazine while I'm feeding Ethan.  Sometimes I am trying to do my checking account or get to the dishes while Garrison is trying to talk to me or wants me to watch a movie with him.

I know how busy life can get.  I know that us moms feel like we need to do it all.  But I also know our kids will not remember how clean the house was when they were little.  They will not remember if the laundry was always put away or if the bathroom was spotless.  They will remember the special moments they shared with Mom and Dad though.  And it's moments like this morning that make me realize how precious life is and how blessed and thankful I am that God has loaned me these two precious boys to nurture and love. 

Jewels*