Friday Foods: Breakfast and Lunch

So I’ve been asked what I eat since I generally have the same foods for breakfast and for lunch. Eating this way makes planning meals and having discipline that much easier.
For breakfast I have a smoothie everyday. In my last post I explained that I got the recipe from Alton Brown’s “Buff Smoothie“, but I portion it down to fit inside my Bullet. My husband or I prepare them the night before so they’re ready to blend in the morning. Next morning, we add wheat germ and ground flax before blending them up. That’s usually my breakfast, with some Greek yogurt or a hard-boiled egg for protein.  When I know I’m going to have a busy day, I will also have a piece of toast or half a bagel too.

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For lunch, I usually have a salad.  I get the big packages of romaine and Spring mix at my wholesale store and cut up the romaine at the beginning of the week with a lettuce knife and portion the salad into baggies.  I also prefer whole carrots so I peel and cut those to portion for daily meals.

When I’m ready to eat my lunch, I pull out a baggie of salad, a baggie of carrots, and whatever toppings I like to have.  I pre-portion a serving size of walnuts into cups so I can just grab a cup to add to my salad.  A lot of times I’ll add to my salad things that I want to check off of my daily list of good foods to eat.  I always include a carrot and an apple, and nuts – or, if I don’t have walnuts, I might have avocado or tuna fish instead – something that has essential fatty acids.  I also include a hard-boiled egg or yogurt on the side depending on which I had for breakfast.  Any other toppings are just for variety and to help make the salad more palatable.  One of my favorite toppings is Goldfish crackers.  So yummy!  I also spring for the pricier dressings because that makes the whole difference to me.  If I don’t love the dressing, I won’t love my food and, “if I don’t love it, I don’t swallow” (Ratatouille).  I try to stick to the portion sizes for salad dressing though because by now, the calories are really piling on.  At this point, with the nuts, egg, apple, dressing, crackers, etc. this salad is around 500 calories, which is a decent-sized lunch.  Sometimes I have half a pb & j or a small portion of leftovers from dinner if I’m still hungry.

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That’s it.  I will go into more of what I like to have for dinner in another post, but as a glimpse, my dinner schedule includes Crock pot Sundays, one vegetarian meal, one pizza meal, and one regular dish that can be anything.  The other nights, we have leftovers.  I think I fell into this habit because other diet programs I have observed are usually pretty strict for breakfast and lunch but relaxed for dinner.  It makes sense to me.  I prefer preparing meals in the evening when my whole family will enjoy them.  Plus, it’s easy to prepare breakfast and lunch ahead of time so I’m not wondering about it when I’m running around and stressed out.  This is how I avoid emotional eating I guess. (My emotional eating comes when I just don’t have an appetite and I look at the salad and feel nauseous.  That’s when I grab the bag of chocolates and skip lunch altogether.  I don’t recommend this.  However, when it happens, I have to get back into it the next day and try again.)

What do you do to keep your discipline during the day?  How do you avoid emotional eating?

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The Daily Planner: My Creation

I created a new planner page that I want to share with you and get your feed back. I hope you enjoy!

Click Here to Download:  Daily Planner and Tracker

Overcoming Adversity – What is the purpose of trials?

I’d like you to meet my friend Paul.  When he was ten years old he was paralyzed in a car accident.  Our parents were friends growing up so we heard about the situation immediately.  It was one of the few times I’d seen my older brother cry.  Paul is one of his very best friends.  Our family gathered in the living room and knelt down to say a prayer in behalf of their family.  I was very young and didn’t really understand the repercussions of Paul’s injuries.  I remember being chided by my parents when I made a silly comment when we visited him in the hospital.  Still, one of my fondest memories of Paul is my first youth conference when we did the pioneer trek: three days, and nearly twenty-five miles.  It was intense for everyone, but I remember that Paul did not have any hesitation about joining the rest of us on the trek and was a champion throughout the entire experience.  Today, Paul is an Olympian, a husband and father, an engineer, and has organized a foundation to help others.  Here is his story:

In the current Ensign there is an article that reminds us, “Challenges have always been part of mortality and God’s plan for our growth. Through the power of the Atonement, we can still “be of good cheer” (Be of Good Cheer: Choosing Happiness By Camille Fronk Olson).

It isn’t always easy to see the purpose of our trials, let alone be grateful for or happy about them.  Still, it’s important to have a good attitude and look for ways to improve in spite of trials.  I used to be really good about having “eternal perspective” when it came to trials.  I would tell myself that there is a grander purpose that I will come to understand one day.  That worked really well for me.  I would imagine myself looking back over my life when it is over and thinking, “ah, that’s why” and everything would be ok.

In True to the Faith, we can read about adversity as a part of our existence and why it is important to have a good attitude:

“When some people face adversity, they are like Laman and Lemuel. They complain and become bitter. They ask questions like “Why does this have to happen to me? Why do I have to suffer this now? What have I done to deserve this?” But these questions have the power to dominate their thoughts. Such questions can overtake their vision, absorb their energy, and deprive them of the experiences the Lord wants them to receive. Rather than responding in this way, you should follow Nephi’s example. Consider asking questions such as, “What am I to do? What am I to learn from this experience? What am I to change? Whom am I to help? How can I remember my many blessings in times of trial?” (See 1 Nephi 16:15–31.)”

Through some of my recent trials, I sometimes catch myself being more like Laman, and less like Nephi.  Why have I had to struggle to complete my college education?  Why have I always had to experience periods of friendlessness and lonliness?  Why has my husband had such a rough time finding employment?  Why did we have to have a car accident in the midst of trial and depression?  Why is it so hard to find direction or to change our course when we are in a difficult situation?  Like the article says, trials and opposition are a part of mortal existence.  Opposition teach us faith, gratitude, and a myriad of virtues which would otherwise be incomprehensible.  There is a part of me that is beginning to understand that in order to be able to seize control of my situation, I need to learn how to and be capable of giving up that control.

“We mistakenly deduce that we must first prove our worth through our obedience and righteousness before the Lord’s sacrifice will cover us or His grace enable us.

“We may come to believe that we can and should trust in our own efforts rather than humbly acknowledge God. This is self-righteousness…

“Such thinking easily leads to justifying wrongdoing because we think we are in control; we think we know better than others, and sin is not a problem for us. If we can just get control over our world—our addictions in all their varieties, our eating disorders and obsession with thinness, our insistence that our house always be immaculate, our fascination with outward evidence of education and success—then we can finally be cheerful.

“Christ declared, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33; emphasis added).

I have to give up the idea that perfection is within my reach because it’s just not.  Only through the Atonement can I even come close to being able to accomplish anything.  I don’t always understand why things have to be so difficult, but I can have faith that there is a Plan and a purpose.  The Atonement makes all things possible.  Through my trials, I can be grateful, and I can have faith that everything will work out for my good, and that I am being refined and prepared somehow.  “Thy will, oh Lord, be done.”

Small Ain’t Always Simple

I just wanted to send out an update to tell you about the progress I’ve been making on some of the things I have been working on.  I know I haven’t been very consistent about keeping you posted, but I promise I have been working on a few things here and there.  Some of them have to do with parenting, homemaking, school, church, and my business.  I wouldn’t say I have been busy because I have had quite a bit of down time while I searched for motivation to do anything.  In fact, as I was reading about Harriet Tubman, I really was inspired by how she used the power within herself to accomplish great things!  No one asked her to free her people or to work for the Union Army, nor to turn her house into a home for assisted living.  She felt inside of her that it was the right thing to do and she accomplished great things one mission at a time.

Homemaking:

Here are a few small things I like to do to accomplish more.

1: I fold my grocery bags.  Yup, when I get home from the grocery store, I stop and I fold those plastic bags up so I can tuck them into the bottom of garbage cans, my purse, or bring them out to the car to collect garbage.  It’s really pretty simple, and it’s so much easier than having those giant wods of plastic bags floating around and not knowing what to do with them!

2: I have been working on a system for my laundry.  I start a load in the washer in the morning when I get up, and then I change it over and start a new load before I go to bed.  That way, I’m not using other precious time to work on the laundry, and I basically forget about it.  When I do my chores, I fold the load that I pull out of the dryer in the morning and then it’s done.  Of course, this all works really well in theory, but I’m still working on perfecting it.

3: I recently read the 4-Hour Work Week.  Great book for single 20-, 30-somethings without a family, however, I did glean a few treasures here and there as a homemaker.  The author talks about focus, discipline, and effectiveness vs. efficiency.  In light of these things, I try to get my dishes washed and laundry folded first thing in the morning so the rest of my day is free.  My goal is to not be distracted by the computer expect at designated times.  Being efficient means that there is a place for everything and everything’s in its place.  I love this mantra and I try to live by it.  Being effective, however, means getting rid of 80% of the crap that you only use 20% of the time that you really wouldn’t miss.  The example the author uses is email.  If you sign up for all the cool notifications from all your favorite websites/blogs and then have a nice little filing system to keep them organized, you are being efficient.  But, to be effective with your time and energy, only get what you will use right now, and unsubscribe from the rest.  Stop wasting time!

Cherry Tomatoes

Beans

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4: My garden is blooming!  I mean, it is actually bearing fruit!  It’s funny because I have really been only doing the minimal effort.  A lot of the time I only water it because my daughter asks me to so she can play out on the balcony, or my husband does it because I haven’t thought about it!  The nice thing is that our balcony faces south, south-west, I think, so it is sunny most of the day.  They get plenty of nourishment that way!

5:  I have been working on a quilt.  It is my first quilt, and I used re-purposed fabrics so it’s only so pretty.  Plus, my machine is old and ghetto.  When I lift my foot off the peddle, it keeps going.  It has been a struggle, but I am almost finished!  It’s been difficult finding the time to do it, but I would really like to be able to do a lot more…someday.

Motherhood:

All I have to say about my sweet children is that they make it a joy to be their mom!  My daughter is growing quickly, and she is learning fast!  I love watching her navigate through my husband’s Nook Color to get to the books and apps that she wants!  I can’t believe how much a two-year-old can accomplish these days with technology!  My son is almost nine months old and he is all over the place.  He starts to crawl on his hands and knees for a little bit, and then he plops onto his stomach to do his army crawl!  He is pulling himself up to stand on everything though.  It won’t be long before he is running around with my toddler!

At the Farm

One small thing I have been working on is keeping him on a flexible schedule like the one in The Baby Whisperer book.  I would feed my son when he first wakes up and then put him down to sleep when he’s tired.  I rarely have nursed him to sleep ever.  I had to start from birth.  Now, he is always happy, and going to sleep for him is never a struggle!!  He is awesome!  Most nights he sleeps through the night, but I don’t have a problem when he gets up once.  I quickly feed him and he goes right back to sleep.

School:

Today I had an appointment with my school advisor to map out the remainder of my degree.  She was really amazing.  She went through her college career with children while they were in grade school.  She understands that children are the first priority and was really nice about not making me feel bad about going back to school again.  I still have a long way to go, but she was very encouraging.  I want to get this finished before my kids get too old because I plan to homeschool.  I want to be able to focus on my children’s education without this distraction.  Still, I am SO close!  I can’t give up now.  It’s been a long journey, but the end is in sight!  A friend of mine posted this link earlier that was encouraging.  If only I could be a super hero and save the world! 😀

Business:

I have had this product idea stirring around in my head for a couple of years.  Lately with my husband’s underemployment and difficulty finding a new job, we have been inspired to get things off the ground.  At first I thought we were going to have to create everything from scratch and do all the testing and preparations from home.  When we tried, it was impossible.  With more research lately, I have found that there are much easier ways to do what I had hoped!  I have read 4-hour Work Week, Rework, and How to License Your Million Dollar Idea for more insight and ideas.  I have lately been working with a manufacturer to get a legitimate product created!  We will start the testing process in the next couple of weeks and hopefully have a finished product before Christmas!  I will keep you posted.  You will know when we are making progress!

Church:

I have a new calling – finally!  Well, I have been wanting a calling that will inspire me to be more productive.  I guess the Lord was preserving me for this calling so I could be available to accept it.  I will be teaching the Beehive class in Young Women.  I am excited about this calling because I feel like it is the right one for me right now.  I hope that I will fulfill my role to these young women to the best of my ability.

I think that’s just about everything for now.  I will try to keep you posted on all the little things I am trying to do.  Currently I am reading (actually listening to) Made to Stick and Switch by the same authors.  I am in need of some serious inspiration!  Feels like a lot of thing happening to me are discouraging and I am trying to combat them by being positive and having more self discipline.  Sort of failing, but there is hope on the horizon!

Underemployment and Debt: My Unwelcome Guests.

Wishing I could pick up old dreams like old friends, dust them off and polish them anew. On display on top of a pedestal or in a glass box, out of reach and completely unattainable…but beautiful, oh so beautiful. Most days are spent doing my best to ignore them. Most nights, mourning their premature deaths and what could have been. I especially mourn the dreams that have yet to be born – those dreams that I attribute to the future and progress of my children. What will their lives be like if they aren’t allowed to dream? In what do we have to hope without progression, without dreams? Stifled by the struggle of day-to-day, making ends meet where the rope just isn’t long enough. It’s not just about income and bills, it’s about self-worth and the value attributed to the ability to progress, provide, or fit in. It’s the comfort of being able to step over the boundaries of necessity into a world of luxury and simple pleasure. Or, being able to splurge a little and not worry about how it will reflect when you make an account for it, or justify it, or have to make the choice of what to cut out instead.
I know it’s important to just be grateful for what I have. I really don’t go looking for ways to be ungrateful. I don’t look for things that other people have and wish I could too. I don’t care about fads or trends.
President Thomas S. Monson reminded us to be grateful in the October 2010 General Conference. He said, “Sincerely giving thanks not only helps us recognize our blessings, but it also unlocks the doors of heaven and helps us feel God’s love.” And he quoted President Hinckley saying, “When you walk with gratitude, you do not walk with arrogance and conceit and egotism, you walk with a spirit of thanksgiving that is becoming to you and will bless your lives.”

We can lift ourselves and others as well when we refuse to remain in the realm of negative thought and cultivate within our hearts an attitude of gratitude. If ingratitude be numbered among the serious sins, then gratitude takes its place among the noblest of virtues. Someone has said that “gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” 8

How can we cultivate within our hearts an attitude of gratitude? President Joseph F. Smith, sixth President of the Church, provided an answer. Said he: “The grateful man sees so much in the world to be thankful for, and with him the good outweighs the evil. Love overpowers jealousy, and light drives darkness out of his life.” He continued: “Pride destroys our gratitude and sets up selfishness in its place. How much happier we are in the presence of a grateful and loving soul, and how careful we should be to cultivate, through the medium of a prayerful life, a thankful attitude toward God and man!”

Do material possessions make us happy and grateful? Perhaps momentarily. However, those things which provide deep and lasting happiness and gratitude are the things which money cannot buy: our families, the gospel, good friends, our health, our abilities, the love we receive from those around us. Unfortunately, these are some of the things we allow ourselves to take for granted.”

To express gratitude is gracious and honorable, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live with gratitude ever in our hearts is to touch heaven.”

It is important to remember in my trials that I am not alone.  I can look to the Savior in my time of need:

“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: … he was despised, and we esteemed him not.  Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows… But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:3-5).

“And he [has gone] forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.And he [has taken] upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he [has taken] upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities” (Alma 7:11-12).

Weight Training for the Soul

If you have ever lifted weights then you know that it is something that can be challenging when you first pick it up, requires a consistent routine in order to improve, and as you improve are able to bear more weight and feel stronger and stronger.  On the flip side, the less consistent you are, the harder it feels and the more your muscles atrophy as a result of less practice.

I am learning more and more that these principles apply in every aspect of life!

In every thing, I wish I felt like this:

But in most things, I really feel like this:

To be good at ANYTHING, I really have to work at it like it’s a muscle I need to strengthen!  My motherhood muscle is pretty strong because I am around my kids all the time!  However, I have taken very little time to exercise some of my talents and am finding that those muscles have somewhat atrophied.  I wish that things were just like “riding a bicycle” and it’s easy to pick up whenever I want, but most things really aren’t like that!  Being a great writer, or singer, or pianist, or artist, or cook, or inventor means hours of focus and practice! If you don’t exercise your brain, you will lose it.  Most people I know who are great at something have spent a lot of focused time and energy on that thing. People I know who have lost a lot of weight worked really hard over a long period of time to reach their goals.  Most great things really don’t happen over night.

It’s like the parable of the talents illustrated in this video:

http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1&isUI=1

Like the first two servants, developing the talents we are given requires hard work, but we are given more in return.  Our hard work pays off!  On the other hand, burying our abilities is disappointing and we lose what we are given!

I recently read a quote by a person named Ira Glass – a radio personality.  I don’t know who that is, but I like the quote:

Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

I feel that way in most things.  I see people who have amazing talent, and I wish so terribly I had that ability!  I know I have good taste, but the capacity to recreate those visions is just not in me.

I have often heard people say that when you are feeling your weaknesses most poignantly, you are nearer to the Spirit, because He is revealing to you how to change in order to grow.  I believe that is true.  The Spirit can then act as our stepping stone through the grace and tender mercy of the Savior to lift us to a higher level.  On the other hand, if we allow our weakness to over power us, it can become a stumbling block.  As it says in Ether 12:27: “And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.”  Adversity truly makes us stronger!

http://lds.org/StaticFiles/Flash/ldsUniversalPlayer.swf

More articles about adversity.

Faith to Plant a Seed

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In March, I started an experiment to see if I could start a container garden! I did a little research and asked my mom to fill in some of the details, but for the most part, I am pretty ignorant when it comes to gardening. (A seasoned gardener would probably look at my pictures and think, “well that’s pretty clear!” That’s ok. I did my best). I decided that the best way to learn is by doing it myself. As  Latter-day Saints, we are admonished to be self-reliant. To me, self- reliance is having the means to support myself and my family which includes knowing how to manage my finances, cook, learning how to sew, and how to produce my own food. I’m kind of terrible at managing my money, but I try. I do pretty well with cooking. I’m working on the sewing (post to come), and I decided that I need to create a garden! My conclusion: it was totally worth it to just try it out!! I thought I would be too busy to plant and nurture a garden! I literally had to have faith to plant those seeds with the hope that they would be fruitful! I really did very little – minimal effort at best. I planted the seeds and I watered them. I kept them in the sun and midway through April I put them outside on the balcony where I continue to water them. You can see the results in my slide show.

I know that self-reliance is an important principle, especially as I see all the disasters happening in the world and in our nation right now! It is essential to know how to be prepared!

When my garden starts producing, I will be freezing and canning the fruits to add to my food storage! I can’t wait!

Need help with food storage?  Check Food Storage Made Easy. ❤