She’s going the distance

A few weeks into our new eating habits and I started to get what I personally found as a strange urge. Why would I consider it strange? I am glad you asked. I was having the urge to exercise. I personally feel like this statement should be followed by a loud Dun dun Duh! I haven’t exactly been the “I love to exercise” kind of gal. At first I didn’t know what to do. Should i pull out my yoga mat again, join a gym, do some Billy Blanks Tae-bo tapes or buy a bike? I was very confused. A friend of mine had recently taken up running and she loves it she is even planning to do a 10k in the fall. She is going to do great! I never had a desire to run but thought to myself “Running doesn’t require a lot and it gets me outside somewhere I love to be. Anna really seems to be enjoying it. Why not try it.” So I picked a day to start, laced up my running shoes and I went. I may have only went 1.57 miles with an average pace of 13:00 a mile but I ran and I, much to my surprise, survived. I didn’t quit either two days later when my legs were still sore from my previous run I went again. Last night I had my 4th run. In a short amount of time I have already felt my body growing stronger and my stats reflect it to. Last night I ran 2.21 miles and averaged 11:24 a mile. I was so excited and proud. But, even more exciting than that I am doing something to benefit my health and I am loving it. I started out just thinking I would give this a try and probably not stick with it. Now I find myself excited about my next run even the day before.

Right now I am working towards my first goal: being able to run a 5k 3.1 miles. Goal two will be: Being able to run 11 minute miles while going 3.1 miles. I know I will eventually succeed with hard work. I am also planning on doing a 5k at the end of September so lets all hope that I reach goal #1 by then.

Running has brought me  an outlet, happiness, stress relief, better sleep and has increased my love for being outside. It is also building my confidence just by doing things that I didn’t think I could do. I am so glad that I dusted of my running shoes and laced up those sneakers. Sometimes that hardest part is getting up off the couch and getting started.

Home-grown

I used to think I was jinxed. It used to seem that I couldn’t keep a plant alive to save my life. I never understood why, I come from a family of very green thumbed individuals. We never have and still don’t have any house plants, unless you count the mason jar of green onions that I keep regrowing in my kitchen window sill. Then about 4 years ago I started canning. I instantly fell in love. The fact that I could make and preserve my own food amazed me. The first thing I ever canned was apple butter then I did some strawberry jam and the wheels kept churning. The next year I got some tomatoes from a friends garden and I made salsa. After that I was completely in love with my new hobby. Finally when we moved into our house in April 2012 I knew that I wanted a garden. I had this crazy dream of being able to grow and preserve my own food. I was imagining pickles, salsas, tomatoes, bbq sauces and more. In August of 2012 a group of volunteers helped me build my beds.
DSCN5208

It was late in the gardening season but that didn’t stop me! I planted carrots, broccoli and lettuce crops and we had great success!

DSCN5311 DSCN5310 DSCN5401

It seemed as soon as the garden was done for the winter I was already making plans for spring. I knew I wanted to base my garden around growing things that I needed to can. We added some more space, put in stone walkways (which was exhausting work). And before I knew it May was here and it was time to plant!

DSCN6455

Since this early picture a lot has changed here are some more recent pics

DSCN6553 DSCN6552 DSCN6551 DSCN6550 DSCN6543 DSCN6539

This year I have already canned pickles, jalapeno pepper jelly and jalapeno slices. The tomatoes are finally picking up speed so soon I will have more work to do.

My garden is my”happy place”. It does come with it’s frustrations: unwanted pests, plant issues, or a pesky mocking bird who thinks he has a right to my tomatoes. But it is somewhere where I can go be outside and marvel at a creator who made all of this from nothing. I can see things growing right before my eyes, sometimes almost visibly overnight.

It is beautiful to me.

The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul
~Alfred Austin

No looking back

Almost a month ago we decided to make some serious diet changes. At first I was wondering how we could survive. I didn’t know if I would be happy, if the food would taste as good and if I would have the time to do all of the changes that I wanted to. In four weeks I have discovered that I have no need to buy any kind bread from the store, or yogurt, granola bars, fruit snacks, chips, canned biscuits, tortillas, box mac and cheese and the list goes on and on. I had a very proud moment on Friday when my husband came home from work and said that he had ate a store bought granola bar that day and that it tasted gross. Something we used to always have on hand and think was an okay snack is now gross because we are choosing to save money and eat better buy making our own. I thought I would take this opportunity to share a few of my favorites that I have came across mostly via Pinterest.

Granola Bars

granola_bars

I adore this recipe. I have taken this and used it as a base to make all kinds of flavors. Adding and taking away my own ingredients to make all kinds of fun options. Then I just wrap them in foil to keep them easy to grab and go.

Peanut Butter Granola Bites

SONY DSC

My girls have called these cookies. We usually just make small little bit sized cookies. Put them in the freezer and once they are hard dump them in a container and just take them out as we want to eat them. They thaw very quickly. I have never added the dates but maybe someday I will.

Artisan Bread in 5

fresh-yeast-bread031

I couldn’t say enough about this recipe. We are head over heels. We use this for sandwiches or a nice loaf of bread with dinner. I am REALLY excited for soup season to get here.

Homemade Granola

IMG_1514-1024x682

Amazing flavor so easy and natural. We have been using this to make the above mentioned granola bars. The first time I made this I was hooked. Not only did it taste great but I got more than twice what I get in a box at the store and I spent less money making it!

Greek Yogurt

crockpot yogurt

The first time I made this I was hooked. Not only was it so easy but the flavor is amazing. My husband is addicted. Best part is a small batch only cost me $3 to make and I got about 38oz of yogurt. A 17oz container of plain Greek yogurt is 3.50 at Aldi… you do the math.

I found it easier for me to just go off of temps when making yogurt instead of time. So I used 8 cups of whole milk in the crock pot on low until it got to 180, I turned it off and left the lid on until it got to 115 then I stirred in a starter. I bought a small serving of Oikos plain Greek yogurt at the store, I put all of it in there and stirred it up. Then I put the lid back on wrapped it up in a towel and put it in my oven with the light on for 12 hours. The next day, voila amazing Greek yogurt.

So at this point I can say three things:

1. We are eating healthier than we ever have before simply but cutting out so many processed foods
2. We are saving money doing it
3. We aren’t suffering, the food we are eating now is some of the best tasting food we have ever had.

So as for the journey we started on that I was so unsure about I feel like I can with confidence say there is no looking back now and we don’t have any desire to.

Stay-cation

This weekend I was blessed to be able to escape for a little while. Even if it was only going to the home of some friends in the same town that I live in. Even if I had nothing planned. It was fabulous. I spent most of my weekend lounging by a pool drinking, laughing and resting with my best friend. It was refreshing, glorious, needed and so good for my heart. I would love to tell you about all of the fun things that we did but we didn’t do much of anything. That was the point of it all. So thankful for a husband that loves me enough to let me go away for some needed rest.

IMG_20130706_181556

It was also awesome to be able to spend the weekend together. I value our friendship so much. Maybe it is because I am older now and I see that I have found something worth treasuring. Maybe it is that we have been through so much together. When I think back to the tornado I can still close my eyes and hear her screaming my name.  She was trying to get to a home that was no longer there (she didn’t know that at the time) when a huge tree in the middle of the road blocked her from going any further. She was just half a block away from my house, saw the roof was gone and came running. I still think back on the months after the tornado and I am so glad that we were in it together. Tearing down, dreaming and rebuilding our homes together. Other times I think about a time in my life where it felt like I didn’t really have any friends. It seemed my closest friend was 2 hours away and I was so lonely. I cried and prayed for a friend, a real friend. My prayers went on for what seemed like months but God answered them through her and many other good friends since then. So thankful the way God brings people into our lives. He knows we need support, we need to be a part of a healthy functioning body. We weren’t meant to go at things alone and he brings people into our lives when we need it, to stand with us and sometimes even prop us up when it feels like we can’t stand alone.

C.S. Lewis said

“In friendship…we think we have chosen our peers. In reality a few years’ difference in the dates of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university instead of another…the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting–any of these chances might have kept us apart. But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking no chances. A secret master of ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,” can truly say to every group of Christian friends, “Ye have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another.” The friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others.”

I couldn’t agree with him more.

I love you friend.