Thursday, January 31, 2013

Foodie Pen Pal Box REVEAL

I have been participating in a program called “Foodie Pen Pals” since November.  Because of Christmas, the December boxes were not boxes, so this is actually my second month to participate in the program.  I will admit, it has challenged me more than I expected it to to shop for a box of food for someone I don’t know.  The first month I was matched up with someone who had a lot of dietary restrictions and that was REALLY difficult to do, but this month I was matched with someone easy like me.  I hate to admit it, but this being only my second month, I think the box I received was a lot better than the box I sent.  I feel bad about that, but I’m still learning.

Anyway, the program is a lot of fun, and if you’re interested in signing up, just head over the the Lean Green Bean and sign up!

Now for the box I received!

When I first opened my box I knew there was going to be some good stuff in there, simply by the way she packaged it….


We’re supposed to send something written with our box, and both boxes I’ve gotten have had a short note in them.  I think this is probably what usually gets sent, since that’s what I’ve sent both times too….  Anyway, in the note she explained that she picked all foods from around her area and told me where each food was from in relation to where she lives.  I LOVED this idea and I’m totally stealing it for next months box Winking smile


I’d like to tell you that I shared the goods with my family, but I did not.  I actually consumed the buckeyes within 5 minutes of opening the box LOL….  So yum!  Actually, that’s not totally true, I used the pasta sauce last night and I haven’t used the BBQ sauce or mustard yet.  All in all, it was a great box and it is so fun to try foods from other places Smile

So thanks Hannah for the great box!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

February Goals

January has come and gone!  Before we know it it will be Christmas, right?  LOL  At the beginning of the year I decided to set monthly goals for my healthy lifestyle instead of overwhelming myself with forever goals.  January’s goals were to run every day and to avoid fast food for the entire month.  I did it!  I kept both of those goals in check!  WOOHOO!!!

So, now it’s time to work on some new goals for February.

  • I’m going to work on some muscle strength exercises this month.
  • I will continue to work on my continuous running, building up to 4 miles
  • I will really monitor my water, and increase my water intake
  • I will aim for 2 cups or less of coffee per day. 
  • On the heels of a month long fast from fast food I will allow myself to eat fast food again, but will monitor my intake for excessiveness….

What about you?  What are your fitness goals for February?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Run Streak Check In


The medals are in and ready to go out in the mail…  Many hours have been spent on the road, in the gym, in our backyards this month tackling this run streak. 

When we started this run streak I knew it would be a challenge, but I really didn’t anticipate the extent of the challenge.  I reasoned with myself that I didn’t have a set distance per day, so it would be no big deal.

Over the last 20 days I’ve learned a lot.

  • It’s good that I didn’t know how challenging this would be……  The same could be said for my Trail Half Marathon…..  Or else I might not have done it…
  • When I commit to a challenge I commit….  no matter how much it hurts….
  • My life has a way of taking over and it’s hard to keep my own goals a priority
  • When I don’t stay on task I get overwhelmed and frustrated
  • Sometimes my run is the only goal I accomplish in a given day
  • I prefer to run in the dark…  where it’s harder for other people to see me…
  • I actually LOVE running in the fog.  If I can’t see more than 10 feet in front of me I really get in the zone.
  • I don’t like running when it’s too cold. 
  • I need a goal to keep going…  and more specifically I need more than one goal, a short term and a long term goal so I always have something further to work for.
  • I really enjoy the act of running when I’m done LOL
  • I have come to really like the feeling of “runned on legs”  It just makes me smile all day Winking smile
  • When I start my day off with a run it seems to go smoother.  When I put my run off until later in the day it just hangs over me all day long.
  • I really crave and enjoy the camaraderie that running provides through other runners.  Runners are seriously some of the most encouraging people I know.
  • I do lots of crazy things with my BRF Jessica Smile

What have you learned over the last 20 days?  Have you grown over this period?  Has it challenged you?  11 days left and we’re in the home stretch!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

How Much is Too Much?

I am just a few weeks shy of my Runnerversary, and in the middle of my Run Streak, so running is pretty much all over my mind right now.  I am also reprogramming my body to run continuously, which is proving a little more difficult than I would like it to be after my months of training for the Marathon.  I really trained my body well to walk every 3 minutes!  But, it’s ok…  It’s all movement.

One of the reasons I decided to do my Run Streak is because I found myself not wanting to run just to run.  Or run less than 3 miles.  I was finding that I was talking myself out of any run that would not net at least 3 miles and in the end I was starting to be less and less consistent.  I saw on the horizon that this was leading to a bad direction….  Time to reset the plumb line…

Over the course of this past year as I’ve taken up running I’ve had many people encourage me and some people have even taken up running with me.  It’s been so inspiring to me.  The thought that I inspired anyone at all is humbling.  And I hope I do inspire others.

One thing that I’m finding at this point, though is that I’ve been running long enough to accomplish some larger tasks, so people are less inspired because they feel like they are so far behind where I am physically that they’ll never get there.

There is nothing farther from the truth.  Remember, the first time I ran I ran less than 3 minutes and needed a nap afterwards.  I’m totally not exaggerating.  Then I decided I would just start small and commit to a small piece.  Once I accomplished that I would see where to go next.

Let me say that again, because it’s so important…

I decided I would start small and commit to a small piece.  Once I accomplished that I would see where to go next.

The reason I repeat this is because it is the thing that got me going.  I stopped being frustrated with where I wasn’t and found a way to be happy where I was.  I never in a million years imagined I would ever run more than 3 miles….  But when I was ready I did.  I was talking to a friend this week and we discussed how easy it is to do/expect too much and then end up throwing in the towel.

Now, as I’m finding a way to make peace with this concept in my running I know that I need to start finding the next goal when I get close to the completion of one.  I’m working now on running continuously and my goal is to run the Hot Chocolate Continuous and then the next week the Run 4 the Children (4 miles) continuous.  After that I will work on training up for a 10 miler.  I am allowing myself flexibility on the training, if I get in to it and find that these distances are too much for my body continuously then I’ll adjust.

As I look over the next year and think about my other goals I’m finding more and more my thoughts toward running and training apply in other areas of my life. 

As for my weight loss (the whole reason I started running, remember?) I think I need to take a similar approach.  I’ve decided to take a month at a time and chose a goal for that month.  When the month is over it’s a new month and I’m on to a new goal.  Towards the end of the year last year I was eating WAY too much fast food.  So, for the month of January I’ve committed to no fast food.  So far so good!  It’s hard.  It’s not easy.  I literally sat in the parking lot at McDonalds yesterday for about 20 minutes.  But I didn’t drive through, didn’t go in, didn’t have any food from there.

I think I have a tendency to do too much in nutrition too.  I say I’m not going to eat any more fast food, no more bread, no more sugar, stay in my points/calorie range every day, etc.  Then I find myself frustrated when I struggle and give up.  In the end that is so much worse because then there’s reckless abandon.  So, as January comes to a close I’m thinking about what to do on the nutrition front for February……  I’ll let you know Winking smile

So, the question I posed at the beginning of this post…  How much is too much?  Well, the answer to that is if it brings you to a place that you don’t want to continue, it’s too much.  Allow yourself time.  Don’t do too much too fast.  You risk injury, and worse, you risk quitting….

If you’ve been inactive don’t feel bad about making a goal to walk for 10 minutes.  OWN it.  I struggle with this too, as I’m now surrounded by many, many people who are faster/stronger/better than me.  Some days I feel dumb making a goal to run a mile when I have friends who run 5+ a day.  I feel dumb setting a goal to get my pace under 12 min/mile when I have friends in the 8-9 range.  But it’s where I am.  If where you are is walking 10 minutes a day, then that’s where you are, and you deserve to be proud of what you’re doing.  In a year’s time you’ll be doing WAY more than walking 10 minutes a day…  In fact, you’ll likely be doing WAY more than you imagined you would….  Remember me…  in less than a year I went from not being able to run 3 minutes to running 2 half marathons…..  Did I think I would do that?  NO!  Did I go out day one and try to go 13 miles?  No.  I went one MINUTE at a time.  Literally…..


Friday, January 04, 2013

Monthly Menu Plan and Grocery Shop

Recently I’ve started reading a book called, America's Cheapest Family Gets You Right on the Money: Your Guide to Living Better, Spending Less, and Cashing in on Your Dreams, and I am really enjoying it. I found it through another blog, Holy Spirit Led Homeschooling, which I found through Pinterest……  Isn’t the internet great?  LOL

Anyway, one of my New Year’s Resolutions is to reduce my grocery/food spending, and the Book encourages you to shop once a month.  Now, I’ve been doing Weekly Menu Plans for a while now, and can throw together a weekly plan of dinners in about 10-15 minutes…  But a monthly one?  What’s more, they encourage you to plan all meals (so you’re sure you have enough food)…. 

Ok, I think I can try it, we’ll see how it goes.

They do say that they make a mid month trip for more fresh produce etc, which helps out a bit….  If I get to the month and realize I’m missing some stuff I can get it at the mid month milk and produce trip…  In fact I’ve already figured out something I missed when I shopped today LOL…

I figure this will be a learning curve and take some time, but I’m willing to tackle the task, since the blogger on Holy Spirit Led Homeschooling claims to feed HER family on less than $400 a month.  I average closer to $800, sometimes $1000 on groceries alone!  I have long known something needs to be done.  We do have 2 growing teenagers, and a family of 6, but this still seems like an awful lot to spend on groceries….  especially when I almost NEVER buy things like steak Winking smile

So, as the book told me to do, I first set up and inventoried my pantry, snack cupboard, fridge, and freezers.  It seems I have quite a bit on hand, and that was a task in itself.  I’m hoping next time will not require an entire clean out of the pantry Sad smile….

Then, you are to sit with your inventory lists and the weekly sale paper and come up with a menu plan.  While I did use my inventory list, I did NOT use the sale papers, it was just TOO much for me to handle this first time around…  I needed much flexibility in what I was planning for food.  Maybe next month I’ll use the sale papers to save even more money…  Baby Steps Winking smile

I found that Money Saving Mom had some great monthly menu printables that really helped me through this…

Here’s what I came up with for a Menu:

B: German Bread, Homemade Yogurt
L: Black Eyed Peas
S: Yogurt
D: Snack Dinner

B: Oatmeal
Gone for the rest of the day at MIL’s

B:Eggs, Toast, Bacon
L: Ramen Noodles (Don’t hate me for my nutritious lunches)
S: Goldfish
D: Spaghetti, Crazy Bread

B: Breakfast Tacos
L: Spaghetti
S: Goldfish
D: Brisket, Potato Salad, Green Beans

B: Cereal
L: Lunchables (church lets out at lunch time)
S: Grapes, Pretzels
D: Brisket Sandwiches, Trifle

B: Yogurt, Graham Crackers
L: Lunchables (Shea), Noodles (others)
S: Carrots and ranch
D: Turkey Soup, Rolls

B: Yogurt, Banana
L: Turkey Soup
S: Carrots and Ranch
D: Stuffed Baked Potatoes with Brisket

B:Yogurt, Granola
L: Turkey Soup
S: Carrots and Ranch
D: Snack Dinner (Left overs)

B: Cereal
L: Noodles
S: Carrots
D: Totinos Pizzas

L: PB &J, Carrots
S: Yogurt
D: Pineapple Rum chicken over Rice (New Item)

B: Crock Pot French Toast (New Item)
L: Mac & Cheese
S: Gogurt (Homemade)
D: Burgers, Fries, Layered Salad

B: Cereal
L: Lunchables (After Church)
S: Gogurt
D: Mexican Beans and Rice, Dump Cake

B: Granola, Yogurt (Both Homemade)
L: Lunchables
S: Carrots
D: Snack Dinners (Pizza at scouts for older boys)

B: Granola
L: Layered Salad
S: Carrots
D: Beef Stroganoff

B: Cereal
L: Layered Salad
S: Chips and Queso
D: Snack Dinner

B: Cereal
L: Lunchables
S: Chips and Queso
D: Frozen Pizza

B: Eggs, Toast, Bacon
L: Noodles, Cheese
S: Carrots and Ranch
D: Taco Soup

B: Baked French Toast, Fruit
L: Taco Soup
S: Carrots ad Ranch
D: Chicken Salad, Fruit Salad

B: Cereal
L: Lunchables
S: Fruit Salad
D: Pizza, Birthday Cake (BDay Party for Shea)

B: Granola
L: Lunchables
S: Fruit Salad
D: Fish Tacos

B: Granola
L: Taco Soup
S: Apples
D: Pancake Supper

B: Breakfast Tacos
L: PB &J
S: Apples
D: Snack Dinner

B: Cereal
L: Lunchables
S: Applesauce
D: Nachos

B: Cereal
L: Mac and Cheese
S: Apple Sauce
D: Pizza, Brownies

B: Cereal
L: Noodles
S: Carrots
D: Corn Dogs, Fruit

B: Cereal
L: Noodles
S: Carrots
D: Mac and Cheese, Hot Dogs, Fruit

B: Scrambled Eggs
L: Lunchables
S: Gogurt
D: Lasagna, Garlic Break, Salad

B: Cereal
L: Lasagna
S: Applesauce
D: Mikey Throw Together, Chopped version Winking smile

B: Granola
L: Lasagna
S: Oatmeal Cookie
D: Snack Dinner

B: Cereal
L: Lunchables
S: Oatmeal Cookie
D: Corn Dogs, Fries

Some things I did- Sundays we are always hungry when we leave church.  In order to avoid driving through, I just bought a bunch of the $1 Lunchables and I’ll supplement with water or capri suns.  Mondays, same problem, but only with Shea- the other three are home.  Some days I’ll let them all eat them just for fun Winking smile  And Thursdays are particularly crazy, we have Bible Study and it lets out at nap time, so we have to eat…  So, we’ll use Lunchables to keep my self sane Winking smile

Wednesday nights (and a couple others are Snack Dinner, meaning we try to eat some of the left overs Smile

Also, the majority of our lunches are left overs.

I will have a paper on the fridge of what’s “free to eat” (meaning I don’t have it again on the menu), that way the kids can have some flexibility if they don’t want what’s listed for a meal or a snack.

Now, I mentioned that I normally spend between $800 and $1,000 on groceries a month.  I’ve budgeted $650 for this month.

I went shopping today, and here’s how it’s shaken down so far:

Bread store:  $8.19
Walmart: $459

My PLAN is to stay out of the store until the next paycheck (2 weeks), at which time I will pick up ONLY milk and fresh produce and any items I’ve noticed I forgot on my list…..  I’ll keep y’all posted!

I’d love to hear how y’all save money on your expenses too!