Monday, April 30, 2012

A change in taste buds...

I admit...
I have never ever in my life had a sweet tooth.
But for some reason the past few weeks, healthier sweet treats have been a temptation of mine.

I made my first of many baked goods the past few weeks: and bananas, walnuts, oatmeal, etc, has become the main ingredients of many of my late night baking.

I've found that I enjoy the time at night after the kiddo goes to sleep, after a workout and my shower, and after the lights in our home go dim, to busy myself in the kitchen and start baking, cooking, and/or packing lunches.
-I admit that my tastebuds have somehow changed to really enjoy lower calorie/sugar/and fat baked goods.

- I admit that tonight I went over my calorie allotment because of the banana bread and banana walnut cookies that were sitting in my kitchen calling my name.

- I admit that my kitchen is the most used room in the me at least. I love the time I'm getting to spend in there...I love when my husband takes a little bit of time to sit and chat with me while I'm cooking, cleaning, or packing lunches.

- I admit, my researching and reading on health and nutrition has become an addiction. Forgive me if you might say something that triggers a spontaneous spiel on what I've learned to love and enjoy.

-I admit that running 3 miles makes me proud of myself. Never ever thought I could do it. But I can. and I'm enjoy the best feeling of natural energy from eating well and exercising daily.

- I admit that my reading recipes, figuring out healthy meals, and reading online about food and nutrition has been keeping me up late past my bedtime a lot recently.

- I admit that I could spend hours in Hyvee or Fareway just listening to my iPod and browsing through the food, comparing nutritional facts, and dreaming up ways to use the items in recipes. It has become my go to place for entertainment and amusement-any excuse I can find to go in there I take it;)

I admit a lot of things have changed and are changing. I am pleasantly surprised by the way God is working in my own personal life through physical discipline and by allowing me to slowly learn to physically discipline myself, mental, spiritual, and emotional disciplines seem to have followed suit.
And I love it.
I love thinking and praying throughout my runs and workouts...sometimes it's casual conversation with Christ, other times it's pleading with Him to give me just enough strength to finish. It's definitely been so advantageous for my prayer life. 

I'm thankful. So thankful for what God's doing personally for me.
Do you mind that I share these things with you?
I hope not, because i can't help but enjoy seeing and sharing what's been motivating me.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Said goodbye 3 years ago...

Three years ago, I said goodbye to these beautiful faces.
After going back year after year through high school and college, 
I really thought this would be the very last time I saw the golden fields of wheat and bright blue sky of the Ukraine.
I said goodbye to all those I'd held close to my heart the past years of college and high school, really believing that it would be the last time I'd see them.
I said goodbye to the smells of B.O. the dirty floor village churches, the water wells that held cold refreshing contaminated water.
I left Ukraine with the unknown of when I'd ever set foot in that country again.

However, God has set it in place for me to go back. 
Praising God, because not only do I get to go back, my husband gets to go as well, and meet those that left a lasting impression on me.
My daddy is going to Ukraine for the first time and my younger sister Ashley is going to work at the orphanage too! 

Now look at these sweet faces. 
My heart has longed to see their faces...and this summer i'll get to:)
These are the kids...this is the orphanage...this is the place, where God grew my passion for working with kids.
I'm where I am today, as a woman, as a wife, as a foster parent, because of the things I'd learned and seen here.

Now, after seeing these faces year after year, and three years later finally going back...can you just imagine my excitement to work there again?!

God is GREAT.
I'm so thankful for this opportunity. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

splurging on italian.

Every couple weeks, Ryan and I go on a date, just the two of us.
It helps us keep our sanity and let's tell the truth now, being alone as a couple is a welcomed treat whenever we get the chance.
Fostering is kinda a high stress 24/7 responsibility, so we think it's important for the two of us to get some time together-alone.
Every once in awhile, anyways.

So we got our handy dandy friend to come watch the little guy and we took off to one of the towns near us. Ryan didn't tell me or anyone where we were going, and that's always a lot of fun when he's got the date planned out.
In Spencer, IA there's a place called La Chiesa, a SUH-weet italiant place that resides on the top floor of an old Episcopal church. 
Down below, a brand new FROZEN YOGURT place opened up. (haven't seen one of those ANYWHERE in we were really really excited about this one.)
We knew we'd go over our calorie intake for the day, but we just decided to enjoy the time and food we, our biggest excuse was, "Oh, What the heck. It's date night!" 
We ordered an incredible Margherita pizza and Fettucini with lamb.
I think both our stomachs have shrunk since our health kick started. We could barely finish our portion size-but we really really enjoyed our meal!

After dinner, we took the stairs down to Bon Bon and enjoyed some non fat frozen yogurt with yummy fruit toppings.
I limited my self to a few little swirls with a lil bit of fruit boba. 
We even sat outside on this beautiful evening to have our dessert! 
It was a great night.

[i got two spoons cuz i liked the colors and the way the spoons looked. such a fun little place!]

Love love our date nights.
And this one was exceptionally wonderful, because we also had a 40 minute drive in the car (both ways) where we got to spend quality time talking! It was fabulous!!!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Sunday bliss

Normally, on Sundays, I take the day off from cooking.
Not for any other reason, but to take a break from all the dishes and clean up after it.
We usually eat out after church and have left overs or snack throughout our evening.

Buuuut, with all these new recipes, I HAD to try making something!
And I didn't even mind-because lately, the kitchen has been my most favorite room in the house.
[this pic was taken back when we first moved in..i assure you, it's now a lot more busy looking.]

The guys had a Star Wars marathon, and although I liked seeing the movies in theater when they came out, I was more into looking at new recipes and figuring out what I could make with the ingredients I have in my kitchen.

I made two things.
First, for a snacking food, I made a hot spinach and artichoke dip.
Now when I go to restaurants, this is usually one of my favorite appetizers on the menus.
I personally really enjoyed this new dish and was excited to have a whole pan full!
Unfortunately though, this one didn't go so well with the guys. 
It was too healthy tasting is what was said.
Oh, well. This recipe will go in the reject pile.

So, bummer, I have a whole pan full that I've gotta portion out to eat all alone.
Sadness, it's not as much fun cooking food when there's no one to share with.
Next, I made a couple pans of Low fat chewy banana nut oatmeal cookies.
I have never in my life been a fan of banana cookies. 
I could never understand how anyone could put oatmeal in a cookie.

However, things change, and by golly, these cookies are AMAZING.
I even love them.
The guys had a difficult time limiting themselves to one serving of these cookies (2 cookies), but my husband especially raved about these cookies.

 Low fat cookies have never tasted so good.

More things to try, and this week holds so many different activities in the evenings after work.
I'm pumped for the week! 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Oh. M. Wow.

 [first graders at the circus]

This week I met my weight goal!
I've lost 20 lbs since Christmas and I feel really good!
Did it with healthy eating and portioning my meals as well as daily exercise!
Boom, baby! I'm pumped!

My husband and I have adapted to a healthier life style of eating, exercising, and resting. 
God is good.
My husband has lost 50 lbs and not only does he look AMAZING, but he's eating great and getting that healthy diet in place.

There have been times that I'll be in the middle of my run or workout, and mentally, I'm done for.
That's when I'm praying for extra strength to finish.
And I do! God's given me the strength to meet my goal.

I'm down to one cup of coffee a day, with only natural creamer and no sugar. 
The rest of the day, I energize myself with  healthy well balanced meals, and for snacks, with water, fruit, and protein.
Clif Bars and Clif Crunch bars are my favorite.
White Macadamia Nut is where it's at.

Never thought I'd be the type to care, but as I started trying to get back in shape, I've been educating myself in what I'm putting in my body.
Hey, God only gave us one body, so I really want to do all I can to take good care of it.
Besides, my purpose of reaching a healthy weight for my height and age was not only to get in shape, but because of something my daddy told my husband.

" I don't work out for myself. I work out for my family, so that I can be here for them as long as I can."

That little bit of advice from daddy changed our lives. We're not only doing it for ourselves, but we're doing it for each other and our future kiddos. Now, don't get the wrong idea, we're not trying to become marathon runners or body builders, but we just want to be more health conscious about what we are putting into our bodies and getting in shape has given us natural energy. I freakin love it.

I use a lot of skinny recipes and my guys are happy. 
We're all really enjoying the new kinds of yummy food. 
Our little one told me, "I really really like trying the new foods you're cooking." He claims I make the best foods in the world, but the kid is mexican and has had authentic mexican food...honestly, my cooking can't compete with the taste of authentic mexican....mmmm, i love mexican food. Health wise yes...flavor...mmm, maybe not;). 

Anywhoo, I'm still obsessed. 
Can you tell? 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Eating, reading, cooking, running...these are a few of my favorite things.

I still go through phases.
Or obsessions.
like right now, there are quite a few things that I enjoy thinking about.
These have kinda been my areas of an outlet.

Through my childhood, up til about high school, I love love loved books. 
It was such a treat to go to a Books-a-million (do they still have those stores anymore?) or a Barnes and Nobles and pick out a book or two to add to my collection.
I read everywhere and anytime I could-in the car, in the bathroom, in bed, in the shower (yeah...i had a lot of soggy books...but don't worry, they dried eventually!), during school breaks...
If my sister or I got in trouble, reading for fun was one of the things that my parents took away from us.
So, that being said, I've returned to that obsession of always having a book on hand.

These books have been the one occupying my night stand and purse.
I started with the first one a couple weeks ago and couldn't put it down.
I went back to the store, thankfully found the next one, and did the same.
Now, I'm on the third one, and by golly, it's just as good. The only reason I'm not currently in bed reading it is because, well, I'm blogging about it. 
Put these on your summer reading list. They're amazingly well written.
 Another recent obsession has been running and hitting the gym for strength workouts.
Now, I'm gonna be 100% honest with you, but I am the worst person at staying consistent with workouts.
I'm not naturally a runner and when first starting out, I could only make it about a quarter mile before my lack of breathing threatened to give me a heart attack.
I kept on it and it's become one of my most valued time of the day. 
It gives me my "alone" time, but the little guy can also bike along if I'm running outside around the lake. 
He knows that I can't talk and run at the same time, so we both get our exercise and get our individual time to get our energy out.
Micoach and Myfitnesspal app on my iPhone has been my best friend at knowing how much I've burned and how many calories I can eat. 
I'm loving how good I feel health wise and I feel the effects of being healthy in my daily routines-dude, i have so much more energy!

My most recent obsession has been food.
Figuring out what's good for you and what isn't.
What benefits your body and what you can go without.
Calories, fats, carbs, protein-you name it, I've been obsessively reading over these things.

But here's the thing, there are so many foods that I love but are packed with tons of calories and fat.
My recent obsession has been looking for alternative ways of cooking these foods and making them healthier options. 
I found all these incredible recipes on Skinny Taste and I'm hooked.

And it's SO. MUCH. FUN.

 My most favorite place to eat at is Chipotle. 
Thing is, the closest one is two freakin' hours away in Omaha.
I found a way to make the chipotle rice though! and It taste so good, just like the one you'd find in their burritos!!!
I also found a recipe on how to make corn salsa from Chipotle...I'm so pumped at these new recipe finds! 
Yuuuuum. I sprinkled on JalapeƱo Tabasco and it tasted just like I like it!
Here's an awesome tasting salad - Zesty shrimp and avocado salad. 
It's great on bread or in a tortilla or just spooning it right in your mouth. 
I had it for lunch today and was so happy.

Oh, and here's something that I definitely felt victorious about.
Both of my guys loved this recipe AND had seconds. 
Healthier but tastier lasagna.
It portioned out perfectly too!
Spinach Lasagna rolls.

 So there we recent attempts at making my days seem just a tad more fun and exciting.
I walked around the grocery store today for an hour and a half just imagining and figuring out what meals to make.
I tell ya, I'm going a little crazy in the head, researching and reading about health and the benefits of this and that. 
I look forward to the day that I get to cook dinner every night and have it ready when my husband comes home. He's loving my new obsessions, because, well, he gets to eat all that I cook! 
There's something just so so satisfying to me about cooking healthy well-balanced meals for my family, and taking care of things at home.

These are just a few things that float my boat right now. 
Anything that you're currently obsessing over?

Sunday, April 8, 2012

earliest I've ever gotten up for Easter

This Easter was the first for all of us to get up at 5 A.M. for a sunrise service.
Ryan had a part in it by sharing a scripture message.
It was really cool getting up with different churches and worshiping together, and seeing the sun rise is truly beautiful, but i do gotta say how glad i was when we could run to the car quickly and try and warm up-it was a pretty chilly morning. 
So thankful for those that came our though to worship with us. 
 I made a big Easter breakfast of pancakes, turkey bacon, eggs, and strawberries (we're on a health streak), and enjoyed a couple hours at home getting warmed up with hot coffee, blankets, couch snuggling, and pjs and slippers before heading to our own church for an Easter service.
It was a pretty sweet morning together:)

We had lunch with a couple dear friends and then headed home for pics and an Easter egg hunt for the boys.

Here's a snapshot of my studly hubby, Ryan:) He looked really good preaching this morning;)
and here's are pics from our lil boy's perspective...i let him take pics with my camera and he just kept shooting.

 both boys went searching for eggs...they made it into a competition between them so there was some crazy pushing and shoving and hurrying to get the eggs.

We spent the afternoon trying to recover from the early morning, and this evening the three of us grilled steaks and burgers for Easter dinner.
Oh, baby, that meal was amazing. I love charcoal grills.

 The evening after that was spent outside biking, running, and playing catch with a baseball (baseball is starting up soon for lil man.)

So let me leave you with an Easter shootout,
from my husband and myself,
"He is Risen!!!"
Happy Resurrection Day!