Thursday, February 27, 2014

Preparing for Lenten Promises

Ah, it’s that time of year again.  The posters for the Pancake Supper have gone up around town, which means that Lent is on the horizon!

When I was in high school, our minister at the time introduced me to the whole “giving something up for Lent” practice.  Up until then, I hadn’t ever given it much thought.  That first year, I gave up the boy I had a crush on.  (I was a bit of a nut bar, and I chased that poor boy hard.  Those 40 days of me “giving him up” were probably the biggest relief in the world for him.) 

Since then, I’ve given up everything from McDonalds to candy to chips to French fries.  Sometimes, the plan backfires (I gave up McDonalds when I was in college, so I ate at Burger King, Pizza Pizza, KFC, etc. instead, so it was kind of pointless) - but usually I’ve been good to follow through on my promises, and not replace them with another vice.

Over the past fourteen months, as you all well know, I’ve made big changes in my life health-wise, and so when I sat down to consider what I should give up this year, I was actually quite proud of myself when I realized there really isn’t much left that truly tempts me anymore.  Last year, I gave up French fries because I was having trouble choosing salad as a side when dining out, but in recent months, I honestly can’t remember the last time I ordered fries as a side.  I don’t drink alcohol anymore, I only drink Diet Pepsi on rare occasions, and I just don’t keep chips in my house anymore.  I briefly flirted with the idea of giving up meat, but then realized I don’t eat very much of it either, so I’m not sure how much of a challenge it would really be.

Yet, I’m far from perfect, so I tried to zero in on “the bad days”.  They still happen, and they’ve happened more often recently than I’d like.  What makes  a bad day for me now? 

A day when I can’t resist having dessert.  A day when I can’t sit still unless I have a big mug of hot chocolate.  A day when I’m at my sister’s house and can’t stay out of her kids’ collection of candy in the pantry.  A day when I end up shoving fistfuls of mini marshmallows into my mouth.  A day when I scrounge around to find all the leftover chocolate and/or cookies from Christmas and/or Valentine’s Day and woof it allllll down…

There appears to be a common thread tying all of these together. 

And that is sugar.


When did I develop such a sweet tooth?  I’ve always been the girl who’d take a bag of chips over a chocolate bar.  The girl who’d rather have a savoury appetizer than a sweet dessert.  The girl who had no trouble passing by a box of chocolates, but couldn’t stop diving into a bowl of salted mixed nuts.


Don’t get me wrong.  I still love the salty stuff.

But the sweet tooth is relatively new.  Those cravings are strange for me.  And, quite frankly, I don’t like them.

So after a few days of mulling over the ambiguous “giving up sugar” idea, yesterday I sat down and gave myself some more specific guidelines.

Here is what I will be giving up:

  • Sweets & Artificial Sweeteners
    • Anything that has “sugar” in the first three ingredients on a label
    • All artificial sweeteners (Splenda, Sugar Twin, anything with Aspartame, etc.)
    • Fat-Free French Vanilla Coffeemate (and all other artificial coffee whiteners)
    • Diet Pepsi (or any other soda)
    • Desserts (unless it is fruit and/or Greek yogurt)
    • All chocolate/candy
    • Hot chocolate… AND the damn mini marshmallows!!!
    • Epicure’s Cran-Apple Cheeseball seasoning (which is my favourite add-in to plain Greek yogurt)

Here is what I’m still allowing myself to have:

  • Natural Sweeteners
    • Pure Maple syrup
    • Pure & local honey
    • Raw sugar
    • Stevia
    • Fruits

Looks pretty doable, right?  It’ll be tough, but I think I can be successful.  My hope is that if I’m successful, by the end of 40 days, the sweet tooth will be gone.  Another goal will be to not replace the sugar-jonesing with other bad stuff, such as chips or salty snacks.

Honestly, I think the hardest part is going to be the coffee.  I have at least one cup of coffee with Fat-Free French Vanilla Coffeemate in it every morning.  If I’m out for breakfast on Sunday mornings, I add milk and whatever low-cal sweetener they offer.  I’m not prepared to give up my coffee completely, but I am trying to wrap my head around drinking it without something to sweeten it.  I’ve had several people tell me that after a week or so of drinking it black, or with just a little bit of milk, I’ll grow to detest the sugary version I so love now.  I have a hard time believing it, but I’m willing to put it to the test.  I know that last night I tested it out with honey and milk, and while it was okay, I didn’t like the aftertaste the honey left in my mouth (I may have put in too much, though…ooops).

Another toughie will be the few occasions coming up that feature yummy desserts/sweets that I look forward to, especially our church’s Irish Tea and the March Soup & Sandwich lunch.  I’ll have to sit on my hands and have my friends supervise me on those days! haha!

All in all, I’m anxious to start Lent and I’m looking forward to the challenge.  I’m really curious to see if it changes me at all by the end of 40 days.  Hopefully it also has a positive effect on my current fitness goals to continue toning up, and eliminating that last bit of belly fat that I’ve been hanging on to.  It can’t hurt, right?

All that being said… you can bet your ass I’m going to enjoy all the sweets I can this weekend!  Coffeemate!  Eating the rest of the chocolate in the house!  Hot Chocolate!  Mini Marshmallows!  If I get a chance to eat dessert, I’m taking it!

Oh, and let’s not forget… PANCAKES ON TUESDAY NIGHT!! ;)


Do you practice giving something up for Lent?  If so, what are you giving up this year?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

WWTKW: Daily Routine, Bucket List, etc.

Happy Wednesday, friends!  Time for a little Wednesday Q&A!!


Linking up with Scriptor & Kenzie for this week’s We Want To Know Wednesday

Tell us about your job or daily routine.  I’m an Office Administrator at Mountainview Golf & Athletic Turf Specialists, so I spend most of my day behind a desk working on a computer.  I get up in the morning at 6:15, get ready for work, then head to my mom’s for a quick visit and bite to eat.  I’m at work by 8 AM, and spend my day doing payables, receivables, payroll, inventory, etc.  I have as set a routine during my day as my job will permit – I take a break at 10 AM & 3 PM for snacks, I have my lunch every day at noon and I try to get out for a quick walk if the weather allows for it.  When I go home, I workout (unless it’s one of the rare occasions when I’ve done so before work – but that doesn’t happen often) – and then I have supper, watch TV (JIMMY FALLON!!!), read, putter around doing chores, maybe go to my mom’s to watch a hockey game if there is one on… Nothing exciting, maybe even a little boring, and that’s just exactly how I like my day to go! :)

Would you rather live in the city or the country? I’m 100% a small-town/country girl.  I learned that very quickly after my brief time living in the city during my college days.  While I did enjoy the convenience of having stores/more shopping options nearby, as well as heck of a lot more selection for eating out, I just hated the traffic, the buses, the people, the noise… I love my little hometown where I live now, it might not be perfect but I wouldn’t trade it for anything!  (And it’s also a good thing that we don’t have much option when it comes to dining out/take out… I’m too easily tempted haha!)

Do you like to sing in the car, shower, etc?  I’m definitely a car singer.  Not so much in the shower, I just don’t often get the urge to belt in the shower, but when I’m driving alone, I sing at the top of my lungs.  It’s too bad nobody can hear me, because swear to God, it’s in those magical car singing sessions when I tend to believe I am the voice twin of Sheryl Crow or Adele or Christina Aguilera.  It’s miraculous, I tell you.

I popped in a CD that I burnt from last year, and this is the song I’ve been belting in the car for the past couple of weeks.  Even Blake’s parts.

Share some things on your bucket list. My bucket list seems to be evolving more as I get older.  Some of the current items:  Go to Disney World, write a novel, go to a Bruce Springsteen concert, go to Hawaii, visit Graceland, become an expert at baking something (like have a “specialty”, such as scones, or tea biscuits, or bread… something that people always ask me to make for them)…just to name a few!






If you could rid the world of one thing, what would it be? I know I should say something like famine, or illness, or violence… but I’m going to go real Mickey Mouse on you guys here, and say mosquitoes.  I hate mosquitoes.  And it’s probably part of why I like Winter more than the average Joe.  Nice weather is lovely, but it also means the damn skitters will be back.  They can ruin a good time, you know.  I hate them.


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tuesday Random Ramblings

  • Did you know that I dislike corn?  I do.  I really dislike it.  Not corn on the cob, though.  I LOVE corn on the cob, doused in butter and salt and pepper.  And, y’know, I’ve even become OK with a small spoonful of corn as a vegetable side dish with a meal.  But if I find a recipe for a soup or a stew or a pot pie or a dip that has CORN in it?  Instant blech.  Won’t even think of pinning that shit.

Hot Corn Dip 1 500

  • I really don’t adore many vegetables, but I would have to say my go-to veggies are carrots and spinach.  Oh, and asparagus.  I’ve learned to love asparagus.


  • Can you tell I really don’t have anything to talk about today?  My lead story is vegetables
  • I need new workout clothes.  I have one pair of yoga pants and one pair of jogging capris that currently fit.  I need a trip to Old Navy’s athletic wear department in the very near future.


  • New favourite Shakeology treat: 1 scoop of Vanilla Shakeology, one tangerine or mandarin orange, 1 cup of unsweetened Almond Milk, one packet of sweetner, and ice blended together = Orange Creamsicle Shake.  yummm.
  • This past weekend was full of fun stuff.  Disney On Ice on Friday night, a lazy day watching movies on Saturday, up early Sunday morning to watch Canada win gold in men’s hockey, and then on to Caden’s last regular-season hockey game (which they won 3-1, and he scored a beauty goal).  Yesterday was “kitchen day”, during which I made a big pot of hamburger soup for our church lunch this week, and a Sour Cream Noodle Bake for supper last night.  It really was just a kind of perfect, quiet, family-filled weekend.
  • Easily one of my favourite moments from the past week:  our church congregation gathering post-gold-medal-victory on Sunday morning, and starting the service off with a rousing rendition of O Canada.  Of course, emotional goop that I am, I kind of faltered the whole way through, because it gave me a lump in my throat.  But I tried to belt it out as loudly as everyone else around me.

men's hockey 2014

  • A few years ago, I had a tea addiction.  I bought eight million varieties, and drank at least two cups of tea a day.  Then I fell off the tea train.  Well.  Guess what.  I think I’m back on it.  I’m really enjoying my after-supper cup of tea these days.


  • I’ve been doing a lot of contemplating over what to give up for Lent this year.  At first, I thought I’d give up meat.  Then I thought I’d give up coffee whitener (specifically, my French Vanilla Coffeemate).  I’m now considering sweets in general, especially artificial sweeteners (including the Coffeemate and diet soda).  I have a few more days to consider this and narrow it down to what exactly I’m giving up…
  • I’m feeling lately like I need a get-away.  Like, even if it was just for a weekend, and only a couple of hours away.  I guess the long winter & cabin fever is starting to catch up with me.  Things are just starting to feel stale and I think I have a mild case of the disgruntleds.
  • The more I think about this, the more I’m pretty sure I’m going through the Winter Blahs.  I want new clothes, and I want new things, and I want to go away, and yet at the same time I want to stay cocooned indoors watching movies and making soup and reading books for the rest of my life.  Winter Blahs.  must be.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

What the hell was THAT?!?

…and by “THAT?!?”, I mean the complete and utter binge-fest I had last night.

Guys.  It was bad.  And it was totally unexpected.  Came flying out of nowhere.

I knew exactly what I was going to eat yesterday.  I had my plan well-set, as I do pretty much every day (at least during the week).  I had even logged all of what I intended to eat into Myfitnesspal first thing in the morning, as per usual, because it helps me stick to my plan all day long.  I feel like once I plug it into that on-line diary, it’s the gospel truth.  I have no choice but to abide by what I’ve written.

Here’s what it looked like:

Breakfast – soft-boiled egg with one slice of whole wheat toast & margarine, coffee with low-fat French Vanilla Coffeemate

Morning snack – PC Blue Menu Finesse Yogurt

Lunch – Vanilla Shakeology with 1 Tbsp. PB2 (blended with water & ice)

Afternoon snack – a tangerine

Supper – 2 C. of cream of broccoli soup, 2 Garlic Cheddar biscuits, veggies & hummus, and for dessert an Asian Pear & blueberries mixed in with 1/2 C. cottage cheese, sprinkled with cinnamon (this is my new favourite, I know, sounds gross, but trust me, it’s amazeballs)

And that was it.  This is a typical weekday for me, and normally, it’s more than satisfying.  I feel very good about a day that looks like this.  It keeps me within my allowed calorie intake, and I enjoy everything I’m eating.  I feel like I’m getting “treats”, and yet still, being healthy.  Satisfying.

Except last night, it wasn’t satisfying.  I finished my supper and I was instantly craving something more.

Something bad.

The next thing I knew, I was whirling through my cupboards, Tazmanian-Devil-like, trying to find something that even somewhat resembled junk food.  I don’t keep very much junk on-hand anymore, but I dug out pretty much everything that I could even pretend was junk food: white cheddar rice cakes, salt & vinegar potato thins dipped in onion dip leftover from the shower on Saturday, pretty much all of the Valentine’s chocolates that I had so proudly avoided all weekend long, a bag of leftover jelly beans (from the jelly bean counting contest at the shower), handfuls of mini marshmallows… and then I capped it all of with a big ol’ mug of hot chocolate (topped with even more of those mini marshmallows.)

This all went down within an hour.  One terrible, spiraling-outta-control hour. When it was over, I was full.  Uncomfortably full.  And bewildered.  And disappointed in myself.

And wondering where the hell that came from.

I’m far from perfect.  And there have been binges over the past 13 months.  Far more than I’d ever like to admit.  But I don’t recall one that blindsided me quite like this one did.

Ironically, this came the day after I so “wisely” gave advice to another girl in the accountability/challenge group I’m in on Facebook when she asked for tips on how to deal with stress eating.  I told her to stop herself and ask, “Are you really hungry?”  If you aren’t, try to pinpoint why you want to eat:  anger, stress, frustration, sadness, or just boredom.  Then distract yourself.  Go for a walk, sweep the floors, do laundry, do something.  And if all else fails, guzzle water, make a cup of tea, or chew gum.  All things that I have done to put the brakes on in the past.

I sounded like  a regular old weight-loss article that you’d find in any old health magazine or website.

Last night, I didn’t even pause to think.  I was woofing down everything and anything and couldn’t seem to get a grip.

When it was over, and I was sitting there feeling full, dazed and confused, I belatedly asked myself why I had done it.  I wasn’t angry, or particularly stressed about anything, or sad, or terribly frustrated. 

Which leaves boredom.  Was I bored?  Maybe.  I guess so.  But I didn’t even give myself the opportunity to distract myself, or make myself busy.  I dove in head-first and didn’t pause to think, or give myself a chance to nip it in the bud.

Ladies & gentleman… welcome to the life of a Food Addict.

Just when I think I’ve got this thing all wrapped up & in the bag, I’m reminded that this is never going to be “over”.  I’m never going to be a champ.  I’m never going to conquer this thing 100%.

I’ve said it a million times, and last night was a clear reminder: this is a life-long battle, and I have to be aware of it each and every day if I’m going to keep myself from returning to the junk-lovin’ couch potato sloth.

I don’t expect that this will be the last time I spend the morning after a binge-fest soul-searching, looking for answers, and wondering why I do it.

But all I can do is move forward.  I felt like I needed to get this one off my chest, but the ultimate goal is to put it behind me and start fresh with a clean slate on a new day.  Each morning dawns on another opportunity to get it right.  And so that’s what I’ll do today.

And the good news is, there’s really very little junk left in my cupboards now for me to sabotage myself with. ;)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Tuesday stuff!

Here is small selection of the random mumbo-jumbo running through my brain this Tuesday morning…

  • I don’t know if people were able to detect it in my posts over the past few weeks, but I’ve been a bit of  a stressball.  I had been planning a surprise baby shower for one of my best buddies – and co-worker! – Lindsay.  I have been known to blow surprises in the past, and this one seemed especially hard to keep, as I see Linds every day in the office and it was SO.SO.HARD. to not talk shower all day long.
  • Good news: the shower was on Saturday, and I somehow managed to not let the surprise slip beforehand!  Phewf!!  It was a great gathering with great girls, good food, and lots of fun.  Thank you to everyone who came to shower Lindsay & ‘Baby W’ with gifts & good wishes, and thank you to all the lovely ladies who offered to bring food, as well as Stacy for making the cake!  :)
  • I’m going to try not to talk too much about Jimmy Fallon today because I have a whole post dedicated to him coming up in the near future, but I have to say I’m SO excited to get home after work and watch my first PVR’d episode of The Tonight Show!!  It’s all I can do to stop myself from hitting up his YouTube channel to see how the first night went!  From the little bits & pieces I’ve gathered on Facebook & Twitter, it sounds like he did an amazing job – never a doubt in my mind!

jimmy fallon tonight show

  • As you all know by now, my trend this winter on my Mondays off has been to spend the afternoon in the kitchen making a big pot of soup and trying my hand at making different breads/rolls to have for suppers all week long.  Some have been successful.  Some have been failures.  Last week’s Rosemary & Feta whole wheat beer bread ended up being chucked after a few days because I put too much rosemary in it and after several slices, the thoughts of it made me cringe. 
  • Yesterday, I went with a tried-and-true soup favourite, my mom’s Cream of Broccoli recipe (mmmm soooo gooood!!), and after leafing through my Better Crocker cookbook, I decided to test out the Easy Garlic Cheese Biscuit recipe.  I’m a total newbie at making my own breads, rolls & biscuits, so I wasn’t sure how these would turn out, even though they were being touted as “Easy”.  First hurdle: Recipe called for 2 cups of Bisquick, which I didn’t have and our little local store also didn’t have.  I lamented this to my mother, and she laughed at me.  She explained that Bisquick is just the dry ingredient base for biscuits - “Look up the plain biscuit recipe, and you can make your own ‘Bisquick’.”  Hmm.  Learn something new every day… Anyways, these really were super easy.  And they tasted amazeballs.  And I kind of maybe ate four of them.  Which means that I probably shouldn’t ever make them again…

easy garlic cheese biscuits

  • Speaking of recipes… I’m a bit of a recipe hoarder.  I print out and write out recipes that catch my eye all the time, and then take them home and jam them into a binder on my shelf in the kitchen.  The recipe binder was a total mess, and had been for years.  So bad, in fact, that “organizing my recipe collection” was one of the items I put on my 101 List all those years ago… and a job I never completed.  Until this weekend.  I went searching for that Cream of Broccoli soup recipe, and ended up completely re-organizing the recipe binder.  I didn’t get it done before the cut-off for the 101 List, but it feels good to know it’s finally all organized, dividers properly labeled, and little notations made on the recipes I’ve tried!  Go ME! ;)
  • Have I mentioned yet that we’re going to Disney on Ice on Friday night?  My sister & her family, my mom & I.  And I’m probably a tad more excited than a 30-year-old should be for Disney on Ice.  But I’m admittedly very excited.  This will be the first “ice show” I’ve seen live that is not a hockey game!


  • Oh… I guess I should review my “cheat-free weekend challenge” which I mentioned I’d be doing.  My coach Jared, after hearing me lament for weeks about how I do so well all week long with eating clean & healthy, but fall off the wagon on the weekends, suggested I try going one whole weekend without cheating.  Of course, it ended up being a weekend that featured BOTH Valentine’s Day AND Shower Food.  But what’s a challenge if it’s going to be easy, right?  I wouldn’t say I was 100% successful, but I was proud of myself for staying away from the candy on Friday (especially since my instinct is to throw a V-day Pity Party for One and surround myself with junk); then on Saturday I know I ate too much, but I didn’t have any chips, cake, cupcakes, cookies, or very many of the dips that I didn’t make.  (I knew mine were made with low-fat sour cream and cream cheese and served with semi-healthy crackers, so I tried to stick with them.)  I aimed to fill my plate with fruit & veggies as much as possible.  I wasn’t perfect.  Far from it.  But it was still a vast improvement over the past few weekends.
  • We’ll try again this weekend…
  • Oh, and we’re just not going to tell Jared about the 4 Easy Garlic Cheese Biscuits (or, 600+ calories) I consumed yesterday.  oopsies.  But it was Monday, not the weekend, so they don’t count towards the challenge.  Right?  Right.
  • On V-Day, I got an extra sweet little surprise when my friend Stace sent me a message to see if I’d discovered the Valentines she’d hung on my front door handle that morning.  You best believe I jumped up and ran to the door to grab them right away – as Stace said, just like a kid on Christmas morning!  It was so cute – two little packages of Hershey Kisses, one from Maddy and one from Tanner, with a little Kissing Booth picture of each of them attached.  Absolutely made my day!!  And then later on that day, my mom called to tell me she forgot to give me the box of chocolates she’d got for me, but that she’d save them for me for some time when I’m allowing myself to “cheat”. haha!  I’m very blessed to have friends & family who think of me on my least favourite day of the year!!
  • I don’t know what’s wrong with me this year, but I STILL haven’t been able to get into the Olympic groove!  And time is running out!! It seems every time I turn on the TV, I can’t find events that interest me, or they are re-runs of which I already know the results.  I’m still trying to keep up-to-date on what’s happening, but it’s far from the passionate following I had with the Vancouver Games.  I feel disappointed in myself.

Well, I think that’s all I’ve got for today!  Hope you’re all having a wonderful Random Tuesday. :)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Healthy Treats

As I’ve mentioned many times over the past year here on the blog, one of my keys to becoming a healthier, happier me has been finding healthy meals, snacks and treats that I actually really like.  It makes steering clear of McDonalds and bags of chips so much easier if I can reward myself with healthy treats that I really look forward to.

I thought I’d share a few of my current favourites:

Asian Pears


My friend Brenda introduced me to the Asian Pear several years ago, and it has honestly been my saving grace.  I was never a huge fruits & veggies fan, but one fruit that I’ve always loved was the apple.  In my teen years, I developed an allergy to apples that has only worsened as I’ve gotten older.  What used to be a mildly itchy mouth has now developed into full-blown throat-swelling, itchy tongue, itchy swelling lips… it’s nasty.  So I haven’t been able to enjoy my favourite fruit in years.  Brenda once asked if I’d ever tried an Asian Pear – very much like an apple in shape & appearance, yet more like a pear in texture.  I gave it a shot, and lo & behold – no reaction.   The only bad part is that Asian Pears only seem to appear in produce sections this time of year, so I’m eating as many of them as I can these days!

Plain Greek Yogurt…with a twist!


The very first week of my eating healthy project last winter, I accidentally picked up a container of plain fat-free Greek Yogurt, instead of my usual vanilla flavour.  The first morning I ate it, I added some honey and cut up kiwi, and it tasted like barf.  I whined about it on Facebook, and many of my friends made suggestions as to how to improve the taste, and encouraged me to continue using it rather than the sweetened vanilla or fruit versions – adding my own natural sweeteners is a far better option.  I’ve never looked back.  I love it (my favourite brand is Liberte) with a teaspoon of Epicure’s Cran-Apple cheese ball seasoning added to it, and I dip slices of my Asian Pears in it.  Or with a teaspoon of brown sugar and grapes mixed in.  Or as a substitute for sour cream (especially with veggie fajitas).  A few spoonfuls give an extra creaminess to a shake.  I’ve made peace with the plain Greek Yogurt.  We’ve become friends.



OK, so this isn’t exactly a “treat”.  It’s spinach.  Nothing treat-like about it.  But I’ve also learned that spinach is pretty disguisable, and I’ve learned to throw it in to things like soups, sauces, pizza, smoothies, and as a base for salads.  When it comes to spinach, I’ve friggin’ become Popeye the Sailor Man!!

Veggie Pita Pizza with Garlic Dipping Sauce



I’m a pizza fan, plain & simple.  And I still treat myself to “real” pizza regularly.  But I’ve also become a big fan of my veggie pita pizzas.  I use a Greek-style whole wheat pita bread (it has no pocket), cover it in sauce or pesto, load it up with my favourite veggies (usually onions, olives, tomatoes, hot peppers, spinach, and avocado), a sprinkling of cheese (goat cheese is my fave), and voila!  15 minutes in the oven, and I’ve got my very own little personal-pan serving of amazingness.   If I’m really in the mood for a treat, I whip up a little of the Epicure Garlic Aioli – using low-fat mayo and extra virgin olive oil – which cuts the calories of my favourite Pizza Pizza garlic dipping sauce BIG time.



I’ve only been using PB2 for a little over a week now, but boy, am I ever loving it!!  It is essentially just peanuts that have been stripped of their oils (and thus, their calories) and ground down to a fine powder.  Do you know what this stuff does?  It takes my regular ol’ Vanilla Shakeology from a nice but rather plain-tasting shake to something that tastes like a freakin’ PEANUT BUTTER COOKIE.  Just by adding ONE Tablespoon, at 25 calories.   I’m told it turns the Chocolate Shakeology into a Reece’s Peanut Butter Cup.  I haven’t experimented all the much otherwise with it, but I did mix a tablespoon with water to try it as an actual Peanut Butter substitute, and I thought it tasted pretty good.  I’m looking forward to trying it out in other ways in the weeks to come.  It’s pretty pricey stuff, but it goes a long way, and just having it to enhance the flavour of my Vanilla shake makes it worthwhile for me!

Yummy Salad Add-Ins

One of my goals when I initially embarked on my “30 Before 30 Project” was to learn to love salad.  And I admit, it is one of the few goals that I have seriously struggled with. Given the option, I never go with salad.  But many of my friends have recommended adding things to the salad that I love, which will make me enjoy it more.  And it actually works.  If I know my spinach salad is going to be topped with a few pecans, some shredded carrot, tomato, onion, a sprinkling of Craisins, a chopped hard-boiled egg, and a drizzling of balsamic vinaigrette… well, my mouth is watering just thinking about it.

Summer Fresh Hummus


In the past, I never really “got” hummus.  I didn’t understand why people liked it so much.  I tried it with raw veggies, I tried it with crackers, I tried it with pita… it just didn’t do anything for me.  This past summer, though, my sister picked up a container of Carmelized Onion Hummus and it was amazeballs.  Since then, I’ve started trying out different flavours, and my current addiction is a few tablespoons of Summer Fresh Hummus (this week’s flavour is Spicy Chili Peppers – YUM) with carrot sticks.  A substantial, healthy snack with lots of zing… and I can now say I LOVE hummus!

Hearty, Healthy Soups


It’s been my addiction this winter.  On my Mondays off, I’ve made big pots of soup to enjoy for dinner all week long.  I’ve made everything from my tried-and-true Fat Flush Soup (tastes like Chili, and it works!!), to Potato Leek Soup (the Skinnytaste version was quite as thick, but still full of flavour), to this week’s Beefy Macaroni Tomato Soup (not as healthy as some of the others, but a bowl sure does make a meal!)  I have SO been enjoying soup on this cold winter nights!

Creamy Dill Potato Thins

Kraft PB Website

I’ve eyed these up on the shelves in the store for months, but only picked them up for the first time last week because they were on sale (and they didn’t have my favourite PC Roasted Garlic & Herb Pita Crisps) – I had a little bowlful on Sunday night when my niece and nephew slept over and we had a movie night.  I admit to being skeptical - “chip alternatives” are never as good as the real thing - but I was pleasantly surprised.  They are definitely the closest I have come to an actual dill pickle chip (one of my favourite chip flavours) – and although I wouldn’t treat myself with them every day, they are certainly a worthy substitute for special occasions when chips are required!! ;)  I’m honestly contemplating picking up a few different flavours for my Old-School Movie Marathon Day instead of the chips I intended to treat myself with!

Well, there we have it… a list of my current favourite healthy eats & treats!  I really need to remind myself of these treats as I brace myself for the weekend ahead, and my promise to myself to be strong and have a cheat-free weekend.

Can I do it?  Only time will tell.  But I’m up for the challenge, and these items listed above will certainly help me out! :)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Randoms on Wednesday

I missed Random Tuesday again!  So, just like last week, I’m getting Random on Wednesday instead.  Here we go…

  • It’s almost Valentine’s Day.  Love Week.  Ugh.  I’m trying to not call it Barf Day this year, but seriously… it is a horrible, horrible day for single people.  Just sayin’.


  • My sister hooked me up with ‘The Perfect Man’ a few weeks ago.  I’ve been saving him for V-day, but since I’ve been having a few too many treats lately, I may actually have to stick him in the freezer and eat him later.  *sigh*

the perfect man

  • This week is also depressing because I miss my Jimmy.  It’s hiatus week for Fallon before he moves to the Tonight Show next Monday, and I can’t believe how much I miss watching my PVR’d episodes each evening.  I can’t wait to have Jimmy back again!


  • I might have to watch Fever Pitch (again) on Friday night to console myself.  Jimmy will get me through the day.


  • I’m having trouble getting into the Olympic groove this time around.  Which is weird, because I was so immersed in the 2010 Olympic games in Vancouver.  It seems though, with the time difference and stuff, that I haven’t been able to watch much of it live, and by the time I get to see the highlights at night, I’ve already heard about it in the news (Twitter, Facebook, online news websites).
  • That doesn’t mean I’m not proud of our Canadian Olympians competing in Sochi!  They are doing SO well!!  Makes me very proud to be Canadian!


Sochi 2014 2

Sochi 2014 3 

  • I have a project coming up this weekend.  And it’s going to be a tough project.  I’ve been having trouble for the past month or so (well, since before Christmas, really) with over-indulging on weekends.  I eat clean & healthy all week long, and then come Friday night, I fall off the wagon and go for gluttony all weekend long.  It’s becoming an issue.  Not that I’ve gained weight or anything, but I know this is a slippery slope I’ve started down, and if I continue this way, it will start creeping in to my every day life, and the pounds WILL start packing back on.  My coach has challenged me to recommit to my promises to myself to eat clean and healthy, and to stay strong throughout the weekend.  If I can do it this weekend, I can do it every weekend.  I just have to keep focused and stay strong.
  • I want to wear a damned bikini.  I need to have that goal cemented into my brain.  I seem to forget about the stupid bikini the minute I see a bowl of chips…

Short & sweet today, folks!  Happy Wednesday! :)

Friday, February 07, 2014

The Biggest Loser’s Rachel Frederickson: My two cents

Here’s a confession for this Friday morning:  I’ve never watched more than a few minutes of the TV show The Biggest Loser over it’s 15-season run.  And I have not watched one moment of the most recent season, of which saw 24-year-old Rachel Frederickson crowned the winner earlier this week.


So I had no idea what a co-worker was talking about the other day when he asked what my thoughts were on the Rachel Frederickson/Biggest Loser controversy.  However, I quickly took to Google to fill myself in, and basically this is the shakedown for non-Biggest Loser fans like myself (or anyone who’s been living under a rock this week):

Rachel was one of the contestants on Season 15 of The Biggest Loser, which features the journeys of obese people who are competing to lose the most weight in hopes of winning a $250,000 prize.  On the show, the contestants are helped by trainers Jillian Michaels, Bob Harper, and Dolvett Quince, and they are taught to work out, eat healthier, and work through the issues that have led them to being severely overweight.  They stay at a place called “The Ranch” where their main focus day in and day out is losing weight.  At the end of a certain period of time, the finalists go home, and aren’t seen again until the finale 3 months later.  What they do between then and the finale – how much more weight they are able to lose, or how they’ve been able to maintain their weight loss – determines who the winner is.


Rachel was a former athlete – a competitive swimmer – who got dumped by her boyfriend and gained 100 lbs consoling herself with food.  When she started on The Biggest Loser, she weighed 260 lbs. (She is 5’4”.)  She dreamed of getting her life back and learning to love herself again. When she left The Ranch, she was 150 lbs. and had been named one of the three finalists.


On Finale night (which I believe was Tuesday), Rachel weighed in at 105 lbs.  That’s a loss of 155 lbs. total, and a loss of 45 lbs. in the past three months.  Apparently when Rachel walked out to reveal her new body, she was greeted with gasps, and the camera caught a look of apparent shock – not pleasant surprise – on the faces of trainers Bob & Jillian.  Jillian can even be seen whispering, “Oh my God, oh my God” in those initial moments.


Having just gone through a bit of a drastic weight loss journey myself, I have been quite intrigued by Rachel’s story.  It’s been a bit of a firestorm, to say the least.  Social media has given a voice to the mass public, and they have been using it.  Many have directed their anger and disappointment at NBC and The Biggest Loser for “fat shaming” and allowing a contestant to “go too far”.  Some have gone at Rachel herself, calling the measures she’s taken unhealthy and disgusting.

So what do I think?

Honestly, from the pictures and video clips I’ve seen, I think Rachel looks great.  She looks fit and toned, she’s got a radiant glow about her, and aside from perhaps her face looking maybe a bit too thin, I don’t think she looks majorly skeletal or unhealthy.

biggest loser rachel

THE BIGGEST LOSER -- "Live Finale" Episode 1515 -- Pictured: Rachel Frederickson -- (Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images) 

My concern for Rachel right now is not her weight, but how this backlash might affect her psychologically.  I didn’t go on a TV show to lose weight, but I did make my journey very public, both here on the blog, and also on my Facebook page.  98% of the comments & feedback I got from family & friends were positive.  They’ve been supportive, wonderful cheerleaders, and I am so blessed that I’ve had them along for the ride.

But being public about weight loss does open the door for criticism, unfortunately.  I got my first taste of it last summer.  I had just officially announced that I had lost 50 lbs, and I was walking on sunshine.  Then someone told me I’d better start eating again because I was looking sickly. 

50 pounds

I wanted to burst into tears.  I went to my mom, because I knew she’d be brutally honest with me, and I said, “Do I look sickly?  Do my eyes look like they’re sinking into my skull?”  She replied with an emphatic NO.  And I know she would tell me the truth.

But for weeks after, every time I walked by a mirror, I was stopping to examine myself.  Maybe my eyes ARE sinking into my skull… Do I look gaunt??  Do I look like a Skeletor???

Since then, I’ve had several other similar encounters with people who have asked if I’ve been sick, and it’s hard not to feel insecure about it.  Still, I feel very confident that I have gone about my weight loss in the healthiest way possible – through exercise and eating healthy (never starving myself) – and I can’t look that sick, because I saw my doctor for the first time in 14 months this past week, and he didn’t even notice my weight loss.

Rachel’s loss, of course, has been much more dramatic than mine.  Truthfully, I don’t even know how she’s managed to get as low as she has on the scales.  I shouldn’t even attempt to compare our situations, as everyone’s body type is different, and we are different ages and heights, but here’s some of the numbers:  When she started, she was 260 lbs.  I was 227 lbs.  She lost 155 lbs.  I’ve lost 78 lbs.  She now weights 105 lbs.  I weight 148 lbs.  I am a good inch taller than Rachel. 

As much as I’d like to tighten and tone and perhaps lose a few more pounds, it appears I’m not budging from my current state (aside from gaining some definition in my shoulders and upper arms, thanks Les Mills Combat punches!!)  I may never get that tightening and toning done that I dream of, especially in my abdominals.  The fact is, I’ve been very overweight since childhood, and sometimes when skin has been stretched out for that long, there’s just no way it’s going to tighten up again, no matter how hard you try.  I’ll carry my stretch marks with me for life.  And because of that, “The Bikini Project” might never come to fruition.

But if I could do it?  You bet your ass I’d be happy about it.

I say congratulations to Rachel.  I sort of know how difficult this road is – both mentally and physically – and I hope she’s able to continue on with her happy glow and radiant smile.  I hope she’s able to maintain her current lifestyle, if that’s what she wants to do, and be content in her heart.  I hope that her ultimate goal of loving herself and regaining her life has been fulfilled.

Most of all, I hope she’s able to shut out all of the negativity that is currently surrounding her, because she doesn’t need this crap.  Nobody deserves this crap.  I know she opened the door for it by drastically losing weight on a TV show, but at the end of the day, everyone else’s opinions really don’t matter.

It’s how you feel about yourself that matters most.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

I do math on my fingers. I need a calculator. So sue me.

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine on Facebook told a little story of going through the drive-thru at a McDonalds.  When he got to the window to pay, the young woman explained to him that she’d accidentally deleted his order, thus she didn’t know what he owed her.  He told her it was $9.35, and handed her a $10 bill.  She then told him she really sucked at math, and he had to tell her that she owed him 65 cents.

This little tale in which he questioned the intelligence of the next generation spawned a very long comment thread.  Folks blamed teachers.  Folks blamed society.  Folks blamed the education system and teaching curriculums.  They blamed the government in general.

And I sat there, feeling awfully dumb.

Guys, I hated math when I was a kid.  HATED it.  Spelling and phonics and English classes were more my gig.  The only times-tables I know well are my 1’s, my 2’, my 5’s, my 10’s, and my 8’s – and that one only because my mom drilled the 8’s into my head so forcefully one evening that I could never forget them, even though I’ve tried. 

I need a calculator to do math, plain and simple.  Either that, or I use my fingers.  Mental math is just not a skill that I’m strong at.  In fact, I would say that I don’t have that skill at all

And I’m from one of those generations when supposedly we were taught the basics, and teachers “knew what they were doing”.  Go figure.

I was always more in to writing, reading, arts and crafts.  But that’s normal, right?  Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses.

I don’t blame my elementary school teachers for failing me.  Nor my high school teachers.  Nor my parents (Lord KNOWS my mother tried!!)  I just, quite simply, suck at math.  I’m 30 years old, and I need a calculator to figure out simple addition and subtraction that others can whip off the top of their head in a split second.

I’m not proud of it.  In fact, it’s quite embarrassing.  Especially when someone comes in to pay an invoice with cash, and I have to grab a calculator to figure out their change.  Or when someone says, “I need 6 dozen eggs”, and I then have to use my fingers to tick off my 2 times-tables to find that they owe me $12. (I’ve SEEN the raised eyebrows and smirks.  I KNOW they think I’m stupid.)

But I’m not stupid.  And I have all the documents to prove it!

I passed high school math, I graduated, went on to get a diploma in Liberal Arts, and vowed I would never, ever, ever use numbers again.

And then, I got a job in an accountant’s office. 

It was there that I learned that I not only hate math, but that I also have a wonderful little quirk called ‘number dyslexia’.  I transpose numbers all the time.  And that was a very big issue when I was typing up financial statements in that accountant’s office…

But get this – they didn’t fire me!  No, in fact, I quit to go work in another office!  The Mountainview office, where I was offered a job with daily tasks involving payables, receivables, payroll, inventory, etc.

You got ‘er.  Math, math, math, all the livelong day.

And I’ve been here for almost 10 years, and so far, I’ve managed to get by without big-time math skills.  (although, I do recall the panic in Bill’s eyes when I casually mentioned a few months after starting that I have number dyslexia…)

I use a calculator, and an accounting program, and they do the hard parts for me.  Imagine that.  Someone surviving without the ability to do mental math?!  Crazy!!!

I haven’t been in school in a long time, and I don’t have a child in school, so I have no idea what teachers are up to these days.  I don’t know what curriculums they are teaching, or what the government is forcing them to teach.  Maybe they are messing up the minds of our children big-time.  I can’t say for sure.

But isn’t it quite possible that the young woman working at McD’s that day was like me and just, quite simply, sucks at math?

I don’t know if the next generation is in serious trouble; if they’re as dumb as doornails; if the whole world is going to hell in a handbasket.

All of that is quite possible, I suppose.

But I know if someone judged all of my generation on how slow I am at figuring out 6 x 7 without a calculator, then they’d probably already think the world is in deep, deep trouble.  Thankfully, I happen to know a lot of kids in my class that were pretty awesome at math.  (In fact, so awesome that they could have taught it better than the teacher did on many days.)

Personally, I give the thumbs up to that girl for having a job.  And maybe Mickey D’s could just leave a calculator at that window to save her the trouble the next time she runs into a similar problem.

I know I would have needed it.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Wednesday. Let’s get random.

I missed Random Tuesday yesterday.  And today, the We Want to Know Wednesday questions are all about love.  *Blech*

So I’m going random today instead.  Come along for the ride.

  • Yesterday, my friend Sarah asked for a review on the Dill Pickle Soup.  Here is my review:  YUCK.  Soooo not as amazing as I thought it would be (or the 300 comments left on the recipe blog post that I got it from led me to believe it would be.)  The flavour wasn’t as yummy as I thought it would be (and I LOVE dill pickles!) – also, it had a very thick, gluey texture that was not enjoyable.  I thought of several ways that I could make the texture better – less flour in the “paste” that you whisk into it, maybe try using an immersion blender and a cup of milk or cream instead and leave the “paste” out altogether – but then I thought, “Do you enjoy the taste of this enough to want to try and fix it?”  And the answer was: No.


  • But please, don’t let my review deter you from trying it.  Maybe I did something wrong.  Because seriously, if you go and read the 300 comments from people on the original blog post, I am one of only about 4 people in the world who did not like it.  I don’t get it.
  • I also tried making my own homemade potato rolls (recipe here), as I often see on the Skinnnytaste website that Gina uses potato rolls for sandwiches or burgers to make them lighter.  I’ve never been able to find potato rolls in the grocery stores I frequent, so I thought, “Why not make my own?”  Problem:  These turned out to be very small. Not much bigger than a tea biscuit. Certainly not big enough for a pulled pork sandwich or hamburger.  I’m not sure if it was a yeast issue, or if they were supposed to be this small.  But they DID taste quite good, so I’ll call them a success!

potato rolls

  • This coming Monday, my kitchen adventures include: Beefy Tomato Macaroni Soup (everyone on Facebook has been sharing the recipe, and I drool every time I scroll by the picture); as well as Beer Bread, courtesy of this Cookie and Kate recipe.  Wish me luck on these ones!

Beefy Tomato Macaroni Soup


  • When my winter hours are over and I have to work five days a week, I think it will be these Mondays in the kitchen that I miss the most…
  • You know how I know I’m more of a health nut now than I ever thought I would be?  Yesterday I got very excited to get my mail.  Because in my mail was a new flavour of Shakeology (strawberry), and also the packages of PB2 that I ordered through Amazon (it’s a peanut butter substitute powder that is way lower in calories than regular or natural PB, and is apparently delicious in shakes).  I have become a person who gets excited to get health stuff in the mail.  Who knew.

strawberry shakeology


  • The Olympics are drawing near, and I am excited for them, but I’m also sad.  Because Jimmy Fallon’s days on Late Night are drawing to a close, and then he’s going on a little Olympic Hiatus before starting back on the Tonight Show on February 17th.  So for the next few weeks, I shall be Jimmy-less.  He will leave a gaping hole in my heart until he returns…

jimmy fallon tonight show

  • I was a very bad little Sens Fan last night.  Almost horrible to admit, but I forgot they were playing at 8PM in St. Louis, and I watched Harry and The Hendersons instead.  Actually, I was sleeping through Harry and The Hendersons instead.  (not nearly as awesome a movie as I remembered it being…)  The good news is that I woke up in time to discover that the game was heading into the third, watched a crazy period that saw my boys storm back from being down 3-1 to take a 4-3 lead, regulation ended with the score tied at 4, and then Ottawa won it in a shoot-out.  I suppose it was good that I napped through the earlier part of the evening, or else I’d have never been able to stay up past 11 PM to see the end result!
  • Yesterday my sister got tickets to Disney on Ice for her family, my mom & I, and I’m ridiculously excited!!  I’ve never been to an ice show that was not a hockey game, and I think it will be so much fun.  Can’t wait!!


  • I’m also ridiculously excited for this coming weekend.  On Saturday, we’re going to my little cousin Grace’s 1st birthday party.  Grace was born on the 1st anniversary of my dad’s passing, and I like to think Dad had a little something to do with her arriving on that particular date – giving us a reason to smile & celebrate.  I’m looking forward to partying with Grace on Saturday! :)

Jill 30.18

Well, I think that’s just about all she wrote for today.  I’m sitting here wondering where all the snow is that was forecasted for today… it appears the weatherman got ‘er wrong, not a flake in sight!

Happy Wednesday, gang!!