Saturday, December 25, 2010

Dec. 25: Merry Christmas

I hope everyone is having a happy holiday ~ and that you are too busy with festivities to read this until tomorrow!

I was so excited that I woke my kids up this morning - I'm always like that on Christmas morning.  We (ahem...I) got up at 6:30 to open presents.

I got a ruffled shower cap, among other things, from my wonderful girlie girls.

My wonderful, award-winning 15 year old artist gave me a framed sketch.

My lovely daughters

We had a decadent breakfast of fresh-baked croissants, fruit, chocolate dip and honey butter.

I didn't get any pictures of the turkey, but it was lovely and delicious - I now have three pots of broth simmering away for any lean days ahead.  We will have some lovely turkey soup this week!

Lunch was roasted turkey, garlic green beans, and sweet potatoes - quite healthy until we got to the cookies and creme mousse cake for dessert.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Dec. 24: Holiday Guilt Edition

This year, what I want for Christmas is for women to let go of the holiday guilt.  Everywhere I turn, another great woman is running around like a maniac, stressing herself out to make cookies, buy presents, clean the house, prep dinner for 20 people, including 3 with different food allergies, all while holding down a full-time job.

Here is my little holiday list of things NOT to feel guilty about this year:

1.) Don't feel guilty about eating during the holidays.  It's a holiday.  You aren't going to eat hors dourves and a huge meal and dessert every day.  Let go and enjoy it.  You truly cannot eat enough during that one day to undo more than a week of progress - and that is a stretch.

2.) Don't worry about having a perfectly spotless house.  In the aftermath of the present-unwrapping frenzy, any vacuuming and carpet-deep-cleaning you have done will all be for naught anyway.  Try to content yourself with sanitary and generally tidy.

3.) Don't freak out about buying the "perfect" gift for everyone.  My kids, even at 10 and 15, are just happy to have stuff under the tree to unwrap.  If there is something they truly, desperately want, I try to make it happen.  If their wishes are general, they seem to be happy with just about anything.  The same goes for extended family as well.  Unless you have a snobby, ungrateful jerk in your family, they will be touched by the effort that you made.  And if you do have a snobby, ungrateful jerk in your family, don't worry about their opinion - it's tainted.

4.)  Every bite from your kitchen doesn't have to be "from scratch".  Gasp.  The heresy!!!  Well, here it is - I have frozen green beans for tomorrows meal and bought premade cheesecake for dessert.  Take that, Martha Stewart!  To top things off, my appetizers for Christmas Eve came straight from the freezer section of Costco.  Everyone loved the food and I only had to stick it in the oven and take it out on time.

And since this is a weight loss blog, I want to reiterate one point: let's talk food.

Christmas and Christmas Eve come but once a year.  If you have established healthy eating habits throughout the rest of the year, you won't be able to gorge yourself to the same extent as usual.  Furthermore, your taste buds will have changed and you may find the foods you crave are different than the ones you craved before.  But if every year, you eat Aunt Mae's homemade pierogies with bacon and sour cream, don't deprive yourself.  Eat what you want tomorrow and enjoy it.  The day after Christmas is soon enough to get back on plan.

Treat yourself kindly at Christmas.  You've worked hard and you deserve it.

Thank you for reading my blog - it rambles, it rants, and it sometimes whines but this outlet has helped me in so many ways over the past year.

My prayer for you all this Christmas is that you may find peace and contentment.  Have a wonderful holiday with those you care about.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Dec. 21: (off-topic) The Spaghetti Project

Everyone who knows me in "real life" knows how strongly I feel about giving - not just at Christmas, but all the time.  I'm going to veer off-topic for a weight-loss blog and talk about ways you can give without affecting your day to day life or your morning drive-thru coffee.  I don't mean to preach, but I do hope to influence.  This isn't about "religion" - it's about faith and love.

I've spent a few years recently being part of "the less fortunate."  As many of you know, I dealt with a horrible bout of depression that left me virtually incapacitated for over a year.  I had now choice but to go on welfare to feed my kids and keep a roof over our heads while I was unable to work.

Despite all of that - despite our lack of money - despite the loss of my house and car - I never actually felt "less fortunate."  We never went without food - maybe we had ground beef instead of prime rib, but we were certainly not hungry.  We had heat.  We had a place to live. We had medical care (God bless Canada!).  We still had enough that we were able to give, throughout it all.

How did we give when we were so broke?  At that time, every single time I went to the grocery store, I bought one package of pasta and one can of spaghetti sauce.  It cost $2.  There was never a grocery trip where I could not swing $2.  It might not provide a gourmet meal, but a package of pasta and a can of sauce could at least put some dinner on the table for a hungry family.

We also gave of our time - we helped elderly neighbors and people at church.  We helped by watching the small children of a woman that was ill.  My 10 year old pulled her wagon around the neighborhood and collected food donations for our local food bank.  My 15 year old unloaded all that food and volunteered at the food bank.

Fortunately for us, we have a higher income now.  We are able to give on a slightly bigger scale.  Now, by no means are we rolling in money.  We are still reeling financially from over a year without work.  The house is in foreclosure, bill collectors call constantly and I'll be bankrupt but next Christmas.   But it is all about how we prioritize the money we have now.

We participated in an adopt-a-family program at work.  I always tell my kids what the Christmas budget is per person so they can adjust their wish lists accordingly.  Not very sentimental, but we are a family of realists.  This year the budget for my girls was $100 each.  Both girls decided individually to forgo half of their gift budget so that they could buy gifts for the children of the family we adopted.  I was so ridiculously proud of them for this.  As a family we feel like we really made a happy holiday for another family less fortunate than ours.

I think that the key to giving is to feel content and joyful with what you have.  Everyday, I count myself thankful that despite the foreclosure and impending bankruptcy, we are warm, sheltered and clothed.  We have a fridge full of delicious healthy food.  We truly do not lack for anything.

I don't tell you about this to "toot my horn" - please don't think that! I write this because I hope to inspire others to give, no matter what their situation. I think the Lord works a lot of miracles at Christmas (and of course, the rest of the year) but sometimes He needs some earthly angels to help.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Dec. 19: Cleaning Marathon and the Weekly Meal Plan

I can't think of too many things that I like less than cleaning.  It would be tough.  Perhaps alligators? Snakes in the sewer system?  Spiders.  I definitely do not like spiders.  *Shudder*  But cleaning is right up there with all of those creepy crawlies.

Of course, applying this information, one might correctly ascertain that my house is a mess.  An unmitigated disaster.  A step away from being invaded by a film crew and unwillingly featured in Hoarders.

Okay, I'm exaggerating, but only a little.  The mess stresses me right out, too.  By chance, I got an email with a link to this page:  Crisis Cleaning

To put it mildly, the Flylady rocks.

I've worked a couple of hours this morning and my house is far and away cleaner and tidier than it has been in a long time.  I'm taking a lunch break and updating my blog and I plan to do 3 more 45 minute sessions today, which will finish up my disaster zone for the time being.  It feels great to be able to open the door without cringing, should someone happen to knock.

Sunday: Smoked Turkey Breast, Broccoli, Roasted Potatoes
Monday: Spaghetti with Turkey Meatballs
Tuesday: Spinach Salad with Smoked Turkey, Garlic Bread
Wednesday: Leftover Spaghetti
Thursday: Pizza with Grilled Chicken and Veggies
Friday: ~~~~ Christmas Eve ~~~~~

I'm only planning through Thursday because I am hoping to fall into a great big puddle of money between now and Christmas - that will help me pick the weekend menu - it's all based on budget this year!

Today I am experimenting with a turkey breast I bought on sale.  My goal is to make an oven-smoked turkey for Christmas day - I can only imagine savoring the lovely leftovers and soups I can make from that.  I was lucky enough to get a whole turkey as a holiday bonus from my employer!  I'll photograph the results tonight and if it turns out as good as I hope, I'll post the recipe.

Well, alas, back to cleaning!