Eggplant Pizza

Today is Day 8 of my clean eating challenge. I am down 3.6lbs, I can go 30 minutes on my exercise bike at resistance number 3, I am lifting 10lb weights, and I still want to eat everything in sight.

Seriously. I am so freaking hungry like 75% of the time. Not for anything good though, so I guess its not hunger, just cravings. I want pasta, and bread, and anything with gluten and carbs and sugar. But I am standing strong as of now.

We have been pretty busy for the past few days. I took the girls shopping for summer clothes, we did a work out at the park one morning, we did the grocery shopping, etc. etc. This weekend was extra fun because Wonderful Husband got to come home and we took the girls to a spring carnival at the school they will be attending when they are older.

The school is very small, only about 10 rooms total. Their cafeteria is also their gymnasium and auditorium. It was nice to see where the girls will go and meet some of the people and teachers they will be around. We didn’t stay long but Little Darling won some tokens for prizes and got a lollipop. She was happy. Afterwards we ran a few errands and came home so the kids could nap.

Sunday was an awesome day! We went to church in the morning, and then in the afternoon- My dad and I got matching tattoos!

The tattoo parlor that we always go to was having a fundraiser for a local music program called Popshop, they were doing walk in tattoos and the proceeds went to the program. They had about 25 different designs to choose from, all music themed. We went down, there wasn’t any wait, and we got a music note with a heart. It was so fun! Afterwards, we let the girls nap at his house and then we went to the Chinese buffet where I got to try sushi. I actually liked it (despite being terrified of it for years) and ate 4 pieces!

Today we had some catching up to do since we were away most of the weekend. I still had to get the car inspected since we had transferred the registration to West Virginia, we had laundry and dishes and general tidying. Not to mention, there was a smoke alarm in the living room that has been chirping since Friday night.

Took the car in first thing, only took about 30 minutes and $15 for an inspection- score! We came home and pulled in the garage, as I was getting the girls out of the car I noticed it. The BIGGEST spider I have ever seen. Literally, the size of my palm. Perched on the wall by my car door. You can imagine the scene I caused. When I went back later to try and capture and relocate, he ran away. Another sweaty scene of me screaming like a small child. Now it’s somewhere in the garage, hiding, waiting for its revenge I’m sure. And probably breeding. Yuck.

After the spider incident, it was time for the smoke alarm. I got the ladder out, carried it upstairs, set it up, climbed 12 ft in the air (the only time I have hated our vaulted ceilings) and popped the battery out. Climbed down, folded up the ladder, and heard a chirp. What.

After an investigation, I realized it was actually the carbon monoxide detector that was chirping. You know, the one the is plugged into the wall, a foot off the ground. So I climbed back up the ladder, plugged the battery back in the smoke alarm, took the ladder down, carried it to the basement, put it away, and came back upstairs.

Chirp.

You’ve got to be kidding. Both batteries were going in both devices and I hadn’t noticed. Repeat ladder getting, battery popping, cursing. Hopefully the great room doesn’t catch on fire or fill up with poison gas, because we won’t know.

By that time I was exhausted and didn’t even want to think about dinner. Little Darling was begging for pizza all day, so I decided to indulge her. I made eggplant pizzas. They weren’t too bad, pretty similar to zucchini pizzas. Definitely not the same as gooey, delicious, bad-for-you pizza, but pretty ok. And even more than ok when you are on a calorie restricted, clean diet and are craving something cheesy and delicious.

I sliced my eggplant pretty early this morning, around 10am and let it sit, salted, on paper towels all day to try and combat the mushiness I often get when I make zucchini pizzas.

Enjoy!

Eggplant Pizza

1 Eggplant
Pizza Sauce
Mozzarella
Cheddar

  1. Slice your eggplant into 1/2in slices, sprinkle with salt and set on a paper towel for at least 20 minutes. Blot with paper towels to remove excess water.
  2. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with oil, lay your eggplant in a single layer and spray the tops with oil.
  3. Bake 20 minutes.
  4. Spoon sauce onto the tops of the eggplant and top with Mozzarella and cheddar (we also did a few with pepperoni)
  5. Bake another 10-15 minutes until cheese is melty.

Enjoy! If I did my calorie counting correctly, you get 4 slices for about 250 calories. I am hoping I can stay strong this week and keep on track with my diet. The work outs are getting much easier, and I don’t dread them as much. The cravings are intense at times, but mostly manageable. Wish me luck!

Stepford Gets Fit

I love sugar. And pasta. And basically any type of carb. I could easily live on bread and cheese for the rest of my life. I never get tired of it.

Nowadays though, I do get fat from it.

I remember when I was young and Mom used to tell me to enjoy my ability to eat anything because one day my metabolism would turn on me. I always just laughed her off, me and my metabolism were good friends, it would never turn on me and let me get fat. Ha. Ha. Ha.

Then I had children, and turned 25, and the whole world turned on its head. When I ate junk food I felt like crap and looked like crap. When I spent three days eating my way through a crock pot full of mac and cheese I was puffy and felt slightly nauseous. After a weekend of binge drinking every cocktail available at our local bar I was hung over, fluffy, and didn’t want to do it again.

I spent a lot of time complaining about how fat I had gotten. I had gained 40lbs since college. My thighs rub together, my belly hangs over my pants, and I get chapped butt cheeks if I walk too much. This is not ok.

Recently, after another bout of complaining, a good friend of mine basically told me either put up or shut up. Here I was complaining about how fat I am while I drink another glass of wine and regularly fall off the clean eating wagon for things like Easter candy, ice cream, and gallons of maple mustard. Perhaps, if I wanted my body to change, I should try changing something.

I tried several excuses, none of which worked, and finally agreed to start working out and eating healthy again with her. She is getting in shape for her wedding next year and has always been incredibly motivated to be healthy, so she is a pretty good coach to hold me accountable.

I downloaded MyFitnessPal onto my phone to track calorie intake, I wiped down the exercise bike and shifted the weights around so the lighter ones were on top. I did a grocery trip for only healthy, clean foods. I was ready!

We started yesterday. I forgot I was supposed to be back on track and splashed about 5 tbsp of creamer into my coffee. I ate two babybels and a wedge of cheddar with lunch, and by 2pm I only had 300 calories left for dinner. Whoops.

I did do my workout during nap time- I ran back and forth on the driveway for half a mile, rode the exercise bike for 15 minutes, lifted a few weights, and broke a full sweat that made me feel nauseous. But I had some calories back in the bank for dinner and snack.

For dinner I had a veggie burger, scrambled egg, green peppers, and some grapes. by 8pm I was so hungry I thought I might die. I checked my app and saw I had 121 calories left for the day. I made an egg white, chopped up cucumbers and green peppers, added 4 olives, and a drizzle of mustard- 100 calories. Score.

Right as I was finishing, Wonderful Husband came home and brought me half a Quesarito from Sheetz. God. Help. Me. I managed to only take 3 bites and wrap it back up and put it in the fridge. I cannot cheat on day one. For real.

All night I tossed and turned. My head was hurting, I was starving to death, I wanted something sweet. At 4am, while feeding Little Littles I broke down and had a spoonful of peanut butter and a swig of milk. Not entirely a fail in my book because most nights I binge eat pop tarts, candy, juice, cookies, and basically anything other junk I can get my hands on because I am half asleep and have no will power.

When I woke up at 6:30am, I had a pounding headache. I had my black coffee, which actually wasn’t too bad, and hoped I could ditch the headache by pounding down some water. No, then I had a headache and had to pee every 5 minutes. The headache persisted ALL morning. I finally made the kids go for nap at noon and collapsed in bed, realizing that I was dealing with withdrawal symptoms from my shit lifestyle. My body wanted sugar, and alcohol, and carbs. Sorry body. I want my flat stomach back. I slept for about an hour thinking it may help. It didn’t. I put some warm water in the bath tub with epsom salts and lavender oil and sat in it (this is apparently a detox bath according to pinterest and will help ease withdrawal symptoms). I felt like crap and now the kids were waking up.

I knew I had to get a work out in even though I felt like I was dying, so I decided it would be better to do it while the kids were awake so I could die in peace after they went to bed. I took everybody downstairs to the home gym and braced myself for my work out.

It actually wasn’t that bad. I rode the bike for 20 minutes, lifted a few weights, did 7 minutes of HIIT cardio, and made sure I was working hard enough that I was sweating the entire time. The kids played happily on the floor. My headache actually started clearing up. I showered off and was feeling much better! Who would have thought a work out would help my headache!

For dinner I made refried bean taco salads. Delicious! and I got a HUGE one for only 400 calories!

It may only be day two, but I feel pretty motivated this time to stick with it for a while. It’s easier to work out when I know my friend is also doing it, easier to eat healthy when she is my support system when I text and say I wanna eat the entire Quesarito immediately, and much easier to do anything when you had a buddy in it with you.

So this is the start of my get fit journey, hopefully something comes of it, and hopefully you enjoy my refried bean salad recipe!

Refried Bean Taco Salad

1 Can refried beans
1 tbsp olive oil
1 Bell Pepper
1 Tomato
1/2 Onion
1 Can Corn
3 Cups Iceberg Lettuce
1 Cup Spinach
1 oz Mozzarella cheese

  1. Heat the refried beans in a small skillet or pan on low heat.
  2. Chop the peppers, onions, and tomato and put them in a medium skillet with the olive oil over medium heat. Saute until the onions are clear and the veggies are tender. Move to low heat, add the corn, and cover for about 5 minutes or until the corn is warmed through.
  3. Chop the spinach and lettuce and put them in your bowl. Top with 1/2 cup refried beans, 1 cup veggie mix, and 1 oz Mozzarella cheese.
  4. Devour like a starving African orphan

Enjoy!

 

Stepford and the Cardinal

There is a saying that goes something like- a cardinal in your yard is a visitor from heaven.

I know, it doesn’t rhyme, and it doesn’t even sound like much. But I had heard it a few times over the years and it was flitting around somewhere in the back of my mind. Which is probably why I started noticing cardinals after my Grandma passed away.

It started last summer. One day when I was struggling with my life decisions of giving up my home, moving to a new state, being 7 months pregnant with my second daughter, and just not real sure what my future held, I was standing at my kitchen sink and saw a cardinal swoop out of nowhere and land on the back of my porch chair. It looked straight in my window and tilted it’s head at me.

And the very first thought that went through my mind was “oh there you are”

Without any provocation at all, that was the first thing I thought. Immediately followed by- your grandmother is not a bird. Followed pretty closely by- but she loved birds and fed them and watched them from the back porch, so maybe she is.

I didn’t think too much of it, until we moved into our trailer in West Virginia and one night when I was taking out the garbage, out of nowhere, a cardinal swooped down and landed in the gravel parking lot, tilting its head at me. I nodded in acknowledgment and went about my business, not wanting to make a fuss. But, in the back of my mind I couldn’t help but wonder…

I didn’t see any cardinals the rest of the winter, not during my stay with my in laws, and not when I was spending my evenings wondering where exactly my life was taking me.

But, the week before we closed on our house, when it seemed all hell was breaking loose- the seller was out of the state and couldn’t be reached, the tenants occupying the property had trashed the place, our mortgage company had forgotten a set of disclosures and needed three more days to review them, we didn’t think we were going to make our closing date. I was hearing from almost everyone I saw- Do you think you’re making the right decision? Do you feel like maybe this is a sign you aren’t supposed to buy this house? Maybe God is trying to tell you something.

One night, when I was staying with my dad for the weekend, I stood at his kitchen window staring out into the evening light wondering if we were doing the right thing and if everyone would be disappointed if we followed through buying a house they all so obviously didn’t approve of. My cardinal dropped down and landed on his grill cover, tilting it’s head at me. I smiled and thought “oh there you are”.

Stepford goes to Church

For about the last, oh I don’t know, maybe 5 years, Wonderful Husband and I have been saying we are going to find a church.

While we both had very different experiences growing up in the church, his being loving and stable and picturesque, mine being weird and rocky and ending when I was around 10, we both agreed that we didn’t want to let God disappear from our lives.

He was raised a Lutheran. I was raised a, well, I’m not real sure, we traveled a lot and went to many different churches. Some danced in the aisles and spoke in tongues. Some didn’t even approve of clapping during music. We never really found anywhere that we fit and finally stopped going in the mid 2000’s. So when it came time to pick a church, we could never really decide on what we wanted to be.

I was confused by lutheran-ism (is that a word? I’m not even sure that’s a word), they had their own book they taught from and the pastor wore weird clothes and they didn’t even want to let my dad give me away at my wedding (I won that argument, in case you were wondering). I wanted a fun church where we could be free to express our love of God, but I needed some structure because I had basically forgotten everything except basic bible stories. After a few debates about it, and realizing that in a ghetto crack town there are two options of churches- stuffy white people or crazy black people- we sort of let it slide.

When Little Darling came along I was determined that we would find a church. I called on a few local pastors. I drove past a few churches. I was reminded, again, that if we wanted anything with substance (not substance abuse) we would need to travel a ways. And at that point Wonderful Husband was traveling all the time, and the thought of entering a new place alone with a baby gave me anxiety, let alone keeping said baby quiet for an hour during a sermon. Nope. Couldn’t do it.

So, last year, I came to the decision that as soon as we were set up in West Virginia, we WOULD find a church. And we would attend said church. Regularly. We may even go to bible school. We needed a church family and a support system since we would be so far away from our own families. I didn’t care if we had to become Catholics, my kids would know God and bible stories, and have some friends who knew about such things too.

Then we moved to West Virginia and I got scared all over again and every Sunday would squeak by and I would make excuses. Wonderful Husband is away. Wonderful Husband is home, but has been away and we should enjoy our time. We shouldn’t pick a church until we know where we will be living permanently. We don’t even know the service times. We may not pick a good one. I don’t wanna go.

Last week, in the middle of the day, a little blue car pulled up my driveway and out popped a ridiculously cheerful lady. She introduced herself and explained that she, her mother, and her sister are all our neighbors! They had seen we were new to the area and wanted to introduce themselves, they brought me a little gift of homemade apple butter and a magnet from their church. They attend a Methodist church that is 3 miles down the road. She didn’t make a big fuss about it, just let me know that the service times were on the magnet and they’d love to have us.

Now, there are plenty of things in my life that I can’t take a hint about. When I ask if I should eat that last donut and my love handles jiggle back “for the love of God, please stop eating”, you better believe, I am gonna eat that donut. When I am pleasantly polluted and feeling fine and think- should I have another glass of wine before bed? I am gonna have another glass, even as WH is reminding me what happened last time I had one too many.

However, something about this random stranger dropping in to meet me, say hello, squeeze my babies cheeks, and drop a line about a church, rang with me. As if God was like “hey Bitch, get your ass to church and quit putting it off” (ok, maybe not in those words, but probably close because it has been YEARS of me saying I was going to go and then not doing it). So I stuck the magnet on the fridge, and kept the thought in the back of my head that if Wonderful Husband was home next Sunday, we just may take a trip down the road.

What do ya know. Wonderful Husband got today off. So I woke up early, made pancakes, and declared that we would be attending church this morning.

Service started at 11am, and at 10:42 we were sitting in the parking lot coming up with a game plan on how to escape if it all went to hell. The church looked ok on the outside, a small, old building with stained glass windows and a steeple. There were, however, two old men standing in the parking lot glaring at us.

We tentatively got out and started to walk up to the front door, one of the grumpy old men stopped us and said we could go in the basement, there were cookies and coffee. We politely declined and headed to the steps when an old lady slammed the door open with a boisterous “HELLO! Come on in! We have SNACKS!!” and we found ourselves being herded into a small, stuffy basement with about 15 old women who were about to pee themselves with excitement.

The conversations were hectic and overwhelming. They all pushed in at us clamoring about how great it was to have new comers, could they get us some coffee, can Little Darling have a cookie, how old is Little Littles, Oh They just LOVE Children.

We made our way to the back and collapsed into folding chairs. A lady brought Wonderful Husband a coffee, another lady brought Little Darling a baggie of goldfish, there was a little boy running around and Little Darling ditched the goldfish to make a new friend. They hurriedly explained that it’s not normally so calm and laid back, however, they always give their pastor the 5th Sunday of the month off, so he and his family were away and they were just going to do a short and easy service (in all honesty I do not believe there was going to be any service until we showed up). At 11am, we all herded upstairs to the tiny sanctuary with pews going in every direction to make them all fit in. With a congregation totaling no more than 25 and only 3 of those being men (including WH) We sang hymns, we took prayer requests, a lady from the congregation gave a short sermon, they laid hands on an older lady who was having health issues, we sang a closing song, we were done.

At every break in the service, after a song, after a prayer, at least one person in the congregation would turn around and tell us how happy they were to see us. The neighbors who had stopped down were over joyed, gave me their phone numbers, and told me I could call them if I ever needed anything. They exclaimed that they hoped they hadn’t scared us off being it was so laid back and informal. We were recognized from the pulpit that it was so great to have newcomers and they just loved having children in the congregation. We were invited to VBS in June, and bible school every Sunday at 9:30am, and reminded that on normal Sundays when Pastor is there they do a children’s message.

We got out to the car and breathed a sigh of relief. We did it. We survived. And not only was it not painful, it was enjoyable! The entire time we were there, I felt at home. I didn’t feel like anyone was judging me, I didn’t feel like I was a stranger in someone else’s church. I felt comfortable, like I had just spent an hour with 15 of my closest grandmas.

I have already decided that we will go again. I’d like to see what it’s like when the pastor is there and does a sermon. I may even like to see what bible school is all about. I don’t feel any anxiety about returning if Wonderful Husband is away working.

I feel like we are on to something, even if we go a few times and decide this isn’t the place for us. We have passed that hurtle of making ourselves go and putting ourselves out there. We are on back on the path, and it feels good.