Sunday, February 27, 2011

Weight Loss Check-up #8 (Feb. Week 4)

Last month I ended up losing and gaining the weight back, so I started and stopped at the same weight--216. I was exercising most of the time, but I wasn't breaking a sweat and I wasn't watching what I ate. I decided l to revamp how I am going about this lifestyle change and made some changes to my strategy. So here are my goals for this current month:

FEBRUARY:

DIET:
  • continue menu planning each week ( I did great with this in January and want to continue)
  • count calories each day
    • keep calories between 1800- 2200. I think I was eating upwards of 3000 calories last year every day.
  • keep a food journal
    • This ties into counting calories, but if I keep a food journal and keep it on the counter so my husband can see it I am much less likely to cheat.  
  • work on drinking more water (at least 50 oz a day)
EXERCISE:
  • work out 5 days out of the week. Do either the Wii Fit plus, or the 30 day shred dvd.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This week was really really hard. The kids have been sick. Bill has been sick and working lots of hours (that time of the year for local sports tournaments) and I have been sick! Yeah so we didn't really stick with the menu plan or anything. I have gotten NO exercise this week and calorie counting went out the window....Gotta get back on track.....

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

WEEKLY WEIGH IN:

DATE: 02/20/2011

WEIGHT: 211.6 lbs.

DIFFERENCE FROM PREVIOUS WEEK:  +0.4 lbs.
I HAVE to get back to calorie counting this week! I HAVE TO!   
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Are you trying to lose weight? How are you doing?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Letters of Intent-- February 25, 2011

Foursons


Foursons has a great weekly feature that she runs, called Letters of Intent. In it, she invites readers to write their own letters of intent and to link them up to her post. This week I have decided to join in....

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Dear Mother Nature,

You are NOT funny. Last week you teased us with temperatures in the upper 60's and sunshine. Things were great. THEN you HAD to come back and bring us back to reality, with rain, ice and 5 inches of snow in the course of one night (Monday). Then you brought sunny weather for the next couple days. Then last night and today you bring ice, and more snow making it HORRIBLE outside.  Thank you so very much! We appreciate it! Not! Please make up your mind about what the weather is going to be like. Didn't your mother ever teach you it isn't nice to tease?

Sincerely,
Annoyed at the Weather
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dear Sickness,

You have come and visited this household for 2.5 weeks. You have brought with you fevers, coughing, runny noses, headcold symptons, and feelings of yuckiness. I can handle it for the most part, but you can't seem to leave my kids alone or my dear hubby for that matter. 2.5 weeks is long enough for a visit, so please....

GO AWAY!!!!!!!!!!

Looking forward to being back to normal,
Rachel
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

To read more letters of Intent please visit Foursons.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Kids' Evening Routine

The end of the day is crazy. Trying to get both kids in bed by 9:00 was a fantasy for as long as I can remember. Trying to get Rebecca to help clean up was a fantasy most nights. We REALLY needed a routine. So like I came up with the morning routine, I decided to also come up with a Night Time 5!

Let me tell you, this works SO much better than having no routine at all!


Our Night Time 5 starts at 8:00pm. At 8:00 the t.v. gets turned off (if there is a show that Bill or I want to watch, that is why we have a DVR). Rebecca then gets started with her 5, while I am getting Jacob into his pajamas and reading him a couple of stories before bed. I put him to bed around 8:15-8:25 or so. Then I help Rebecca complete her Night Time 5.

  1. Clean up toys and books. (This consists of putting toys back in bins and books back on the shelf in the family room)
  2. Brush your teeth.
  3. Take a bath.
  4. PJs on and read a story (or 2).
  5. Go to bed (by 9:00).
So far this week, this has worked perfectly! There have been no tantrums and no being too sleepy that she is whiny after her bath.

I am LOVING these routines!!!!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Kid's Morning Routine

I have been in a rut when it comes to getting the kids ready for the day. Since we stay home most of the time, there have been many days where it was noon and the kids still were not dressed, hair not brushed, etc. and I was rushing around to get them dressed before my dear Hubby came home for lunch. They would eat breakfast then I would turn on cartoons and eat my own breakfast and check email...and time just got away from us. Something had to give.....

So I decided to come up with a morning routine (especially for Rebecca.)......





She loves her "Morning 5" chore chart. And after using is for this week, I love it as well! Our mornings get off to such a great start now! She must complete all 5 things before she can play or watch any cartoons.

Here are my kids' Morning 5:

  1. Eat Breakfast
  2. Get Dressed
  3. Brush Teeth
  4. Brush Hair
  5. Make Bed
I take my shower and get dressed before the kids get up. Then I eat breakfast and check email after Rebecca makes her bed while I turn on cartoons for 1 hour.

To make the chart, I used 1/2 of a poster board, pictures that I printed off of Google, construction paper and glue. It was so easy and CHEAP to make and it is worth it!!



Tuesday, February 22, 2011

KID'S BOOK REVIEW:: God Gave Us So Much



God Gave Us So Much by Lisa Tawn Bergren is a compilation of 3 stories...God Gave Us the World, God Gave Us Love, and God Gave Us Heaven.

In God Gave Us the World,  Mama Polar Bear has the task of teaching her Little Cub about the vastness and beauty of our world as it was given to us by God. Little Cub has many questions that Mama answers about God making the world perfect and the people and animals in it each perfect AND different.

In God Gave Us Love, Grampa Polar Bear teaches Little Cub about the love that God has given to each of us and that God shares with each of us. Grampa answers Little Cub's curiousity about love by teaching him that "God is Love so he created us to love."

In God Gave Us Heaven, Papa Bear answers Little Cub's questions about Heaven and explains Heaven in a very gentle loving way. He explains to Little Cub the wonderful and joyful things that we may see there.

In these stories, Bergren does a wonderful job of helping to explain difficult questions that most, if not all, young children ask. The answers to the questions were accessible to children but were not overwhelming or depressing (especially in the story of Heaven).  I love how gentle and refreshing the stories were and how they were accompianied by wonderful illustrations by Laura Bryant.

I read these stories over the course of 3 nights to my 4 year old daughter. She LOVED the illustrations and the story lines. She did not ask a lot of questions after the stories, but that may change when we read it again as she gets older.

In my opinion, this is a great discussion starter book for those difficult questions that children may have. I was impressed by the story God Gave Us Heaven, as it allowed the idea of Heaven to be accessible to children without focusing on death. I will definitely be re-reading this with my daughter again.

DISCLAIMER:  I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Really?

Last week at this time, we were wearing short sleeves and flip-flops with our jeans....yesterday morning it was chilly but not too bad. Within the span of 3 hours...we got rain, then ice, then snow...we ended up with about 4-5 inches of snow last night and no school today. Really??  This is what I get for living in Ohio I guess.

Monday, February 21, 2011

President's Day

Feb. 21-27 Menu Plan and Grocery Shopping

Each week I will post what I spend at the grocery store each week so that I will be accountable to you lovely readers as well as to myself and so that I can see how I am doing. I hope to spend on average $60 a week on groceries. I will also be posting my menu plan on Mondays as well (as part of Orgjunkie's Menu Plan Monday series).

I think I may have to rethink our grocery budget. Prices around here have skyrocketed in the last month and it seems like no matter how hard I try I still spend $60-$70 a week on groceries. I am going to think about this and my update it to show a raise to $80 a week and include toiletries and household supplies in that as well.

This week's grocery list:
(I meant to take a picture instead of posting all the food stuff I bought but I forgot, maybe next week! :) KROGER:
12 pack Diet Coke (FREE)
2 pork chop bags
5 pack Mac and cheese
apple juice
chicken nuggets
3 boxes Capri Sun
2 boxes fruit snacks n(-$1.50 coupon)
2 boxes cereal bars (BOGO Free)
crackers
peanut butter
2 Manwich
Applesauce
Waffles (-$1.00 coupon)
2 Marie Callender frozen entrees (DH request)
frozen pizza
Strawberries
bananas
pears
1.5 gallon whole milk (on manager special for $0.89 for 1/2 gallon)
1.5 gallon skim milk (on manager special for $0.89 for 1/2 gallon)
6 yogurt (-$0.80 coupon)
Swiss cheese
----------------------------------------------
Total: $ 56.43 (for groceries)

Household:
Box of Luvs diapers (-$10.00 coupon)
Toilet Paper (-$1.50 coupon)
Colgate toothpaste (FREE after coupon)
poster board (for chore charts for Rebecca)
------------------------------------------------
Total: $14.63 (for household stuff)

TOTAL FOR GROCERIES AND HOUSEHOLD: $71.06


Now on to our menu....






 




This week we will be eating:

MONDAY: spaghetti with meat sauce

TUESDAY: pork chops, julienne potatoes, green beans

WEDNESDAY: fish, macaroni and cheese, peas

THURSDAY: chicken and cheese and stuffing casserole, broccoli, rolls

FRIDAY: hot dogs on buns, baked beans, and leftover mac n cheese

SATURDAY: leftovers/pizza

SUNDAY: chili, grilled cheese, carrots


For more great menu ideas please visit: orgjunkie.com!


Hope everyone has a great week of good food!!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Weight Loss Checkup #7 (Feb. week 3)

Last month I ended up losing and gaining the weight back, so I started and stopped at the same weight--216. I was exercising most of the time, but I wasn't breaking a sweat and I wasn't watching what I ate. I decided l to revamp how I am going about this lifestyle change and made some changes to my strategy. So here are my goals for this current month:

FEBRUARY:

DIET:
  • continue menu planning each week ( I did great with this in January and want to continue)
  • count calories each day
    • keep calories between 1800- 2200. I think I was eating upwards of 3000 calories last year every day.
  • keep a food journal
    • This ties into counting calories, but if I keep a food journal and keep it on the counter so my husband can see it I am much less likely to cheat.  
  • work on drinking more water (at least 50 oz a day)
EXERCISE:
  • work out 5 days out of the week. Do either the Wii Fit plus, or the 30 day shred dvd.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This week was really hard. I had ABSOLUTELY NO motivation. I was tired most of the week. I have been dealing with 2 sick kids this week. Rebecca has been coughing most of the week and had a slight fever one day. Jacob had a fever for 2 days and all he wanted was for me to hold him all day and night...so that was 2 sleepless nights for me. I also worked extra this week as my boss was home with her sick daughter. Needless to say I didn't want to cook or so much think about messing up the kitchen, so we ate out several times. And I did NO calorie counting at all!  :( Hopefully, this week will be better.

Exercise wise was awful...I did NO exercise this week, except for Wednesday night when I walked 1.5 miles from work to Firestone where we had to have some work done on the car. Other than that, nothing.....
Needless to say I was not looking forward to the weigh-in this week.......so here are the numbers.....
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

WEEKLY WEIGH IN:

DATE: 02/20/2011

WEIGHT: 211.2 lbs.

DIFFERENCE FROM PREVIOUS WEEK:  +1.7 lbs.
I HAVE to get back to calorie counting this week! I HAVE TO!   
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Are you trying to lose weight? How are you doing?

Friday, February 18, 2011

New Recipe for February: Ham and Cheese Rollups



I made these for dinner tonight. This is one of 2 new recipes I wanted to try for February in keeping with my New Year's Goal of trying at least one new recipe a month. The verdict: We LOVED these!

I found the recipe in an old Taste of Home magazine and modified it to fit our family. (The original called for more cheese, and salami, which we don't like and I did not put the peppers on the ones for the kiddos!) I only could eat 1/2 of one, and the kiddos ate about 1/4 of one before they were full. I served these with green beans and pears.


They are SO EASY to make! I will definitely be making these again!

Ham and Cheese Rollups
2 TBSP. olive oil, divided
4 Flour tortillas (Burrito sized)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/4 lb. thinly sliced deli ham
1/4 lb. thinly sliced provolone cheese
1/2 cup roasted sweet red peppers, drained and juliened
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
(Marinara sauce, optional)

  1. Brush 1 TBSP. olive oil on one side of the tortillas.
  2. Sprinkle each tortilla with parmesan cheese (dividing 1/4 c. among them).
  3. Layer tortillas with ham, provolone cheese, red peppers, and mozzarella cheese.
  4. Fold in sides of tortilla and roll up.
  5. Place seam side down on a parchment lined cookie sheet.
  6. Brush with remaining olive oil and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese.
  7. Bake at 425 degrees for 9-12 minutes until golden brown.
  8. Serve warm with marinara sauce if desired.
Per each tortilla:
Calories: 605
Fat: 35 grams




Thursday, February 17, 2011

Pack your bags and SniqueAway!!!!

A couple days ago I blogged about dreaming of vacations...I also lamented because funds were short and I wanted to have a great getaway....Well low and behold I think I may have found my answer....



SniqueAway.com is a new travel website that offers great vacation opportunities at a fraction of the cost. Members to this website have access to up to 50% off sales at some of the world's greatest and most luxurious resorts and hotels. Just today they were offering packages to resorts such as West Inn and Suites in Carlsbad, CA, the Garza Blanca Resort in Puerta Vallerta, Mexico, among others.

West Inn and Suites

Garza Blanca

All hotels featured on SniqueAway have earned a minimum four-star industry classification and four out of five review ratings on TripAdvisor. They are part of Smarter Travel Media-a TripAdvisor Media Group company.

Exclusive SniqueAway sales only last up to seven days or until the offer sells out.

The reason SniqueAway can offer these exclusive deals is because to gain access to them you have to be a member of their website. Once you become a member you can book fabulous vacations at a fraction of the cost that you might pay. You have to act fast though as these sales only last up to 7 days. However, you also get a sneak peek at upcoming sales so you can do a little planning ahead!

Also once you become a member you can invite your friends and family to join and once they book their first SniqueAway you get $25 credit to your account!

If you would like to join LOOK, BOOK, SAVE and RAVE at SniqueAway you may do so.... Invitation to join SniqueAway!



DISCLAIMER: As a member of BzzAgent.com I was given an exclusive invite to join SniqueAway.com. All opinions expressed throughout this blog post are my own.


 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Fallen off the wagon....

I have fallen off the wagon. I haven't exercised in a week. I haven't been eating well. I have been going way above my calorie counts each day. I haven't been a hands-on mom. I have been snippy with Bill. I just don't have any energy. I am going to start over again today. I have to be a better person.

Monday, February 14, 2011

KIDS BOOK REVIEW: The Dragon and the Turtle Go on Safari


The Dragon and The Turtle Go on Safari by Donita K. Paul and Evangeline Denmark stars friends Padraig the Dragon and Roger the Turtle. (These are the same friends we met in The Dragon and the Turtle which I reviewed here.) Padraig and Roger have decided that they want to camp out ALL night long at the base of Mount Sillymanborrow. At first they have fun, eating tasty, crunchy bugs and making s'mores. However, the fun starts to go away when it begins to get dark and the noises of the wild start to ruin their evening. The boys begin to believe that the sounds they are hearing are animals in the wild, such as rhinos, elephants and monkeys, while in reality they were common animals you might find in your backyard...an owl, cat, raccoon, etc. The boys share an adventure in the night when they help to save a small leopard (a kitten) from a tree. As the boys are finally deciding that it is too much for them to be out, dawn breaks and they realize they have been brave and have stayed outside ALL night long. Then they decide they need a nap before taking on any other adventures of the day.

I read The Dragon and the Turtle Go on Safari to my 4 year old. She had LOVED the first book, however she soon lost interest in this one. I believe that is because the vocabulary was more advanced and there wasn't as much real action as there was the use of imagination. All told, I was also disappointed in this story. It was boring to read and I think would be more of the liking for a 8-10 year old, not a 4-8 year old.

DISCLAIMER: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Feb.14-20 Grocery Shopping and Menu Plan Monday

Each week I will post what I spend at the grocery store each week so that I will be accountable to you lovely readers as well as to myself and so that I can see how I am doing. I hope to spend on average $60 a week on groceries. I will also be posting my menu plan on Mondays as well (as part of Orgjunkie's Menu Plan Monday series).

For the week of  February 14-20 , 2011:
GROCERY SHOPPING:

KROGER:
2 gallons skim milk
1 gallon whole milk
2-liter Diet A&W rootbeer (after sale and coupon...$.28)
frozen lasagna
2 packs pork chops (on clearance)
Reese's Pieces
Nestle hearts (with sale and coupon...$1.00)
Honey Ham
Salad dressing (FREE)
2 boxes cake mix (on sale for $.77 each)
Cheerios
Orange juice
Frozen corn
Frozen peas
Frozen broccoli
Mozzarella cheese
Provolone cheese
4 jars spaghetti sauce (on sale for $1 each)
2 cans carrots
2 cans pears
1 can mixed veggies
yogurt (FREE)
Roasted red peppers
Instant mashed potatoes
brown rice
Taco shells
Tortillas
lettuce
red onion
2 tomatoes
cucumber
bananas
hamburger buns (on sale for $.25)
2 loaves wheat bread (on clearance for $0.49 each)
Sunday paper
----------------------------------------------
Total: $65.22
Over budget by $5.22
I think this was because I bought the spaghetti sauce and the cake mix which was NOT on my list. I am okay with this as I am getting closer to reaching my $60 a week goal.


Now on to our menu....






 



This week we will be eating:

MONDAY: HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!!!!! Manwich Sandwiches, corn, peaches
TUESDAY: Tacos for hubby and I, grilled cheese and carrots for the kiddos

WEDNESDAY: lasagna, broccoli, and salad
THURSDAY: Ham and cheese stromboli (new recipe), marinara sauce, green beans, pears
FRIDAY: chicken primavera (new recipe) for hubby and I, chicken nuggets and peas for the kiddos
SATURDAY: Leftovers and/or Pizza

SUNDAY: Chicken and dumplings in the crockpot over mashed potatoes.
For more great menu ideas please visit: orgjunkie.com!


Hope everyone has a great week of good food!!

Happy Valentine's Day!

To my wonderful Hubby (who does read this blog occasionally!):

I love you so much. I am so glad that we met and that we fell in love! You have given me so much in our years together....I love you! Happy Valentine's Day!

Love,
Your Wife



(This was the song that Dear Hubby and I danced to during our wedding reception!)

And to all my blogging friends,

May you have a wonderful Valentine's Day wherever you are!

:) Rachel

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Weight Loss Checkup #6 (February week 2)

Last month I ended up losing and gaining the weight back, so I started and stopped at the same weight--216. I was exercising most of the time, but I wasn't breaking a sweat and I wasn't watching what I ate. I decided last week to revamp how I am going about this lifestyle change and made some changes to my strategy. So here are my goals for this current month:

FEBRUARY:

DIET:
  • continue menu planning each week ( I did great with this in January and want to continue)
  • count calories each day
    • keep calories between 1800- 2200. I think I was eating upwards of 3000 calories last year every day.
  • keep a food journal
    • This ties into counting calories, but if I keep a food journal and keep it on the counter so my husband can see it I am much less likely to cheat.  
  • work on drinking more water (at least 50 oz a day)
EXERCISE:
  • work out 5 days out of the week. Do either the Wii Fit plus, or the 30 day shred dvd.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This week was really hard. I had NO motivation. I was tired all week. It was that time of the month for my special monthly visitor. I just wanted to eat junk food and I did a couple times. I had McDonalds one night for dinner (Big Mac, fries, diet coke and an apple pie)...However I tried even with the eating bad to stay within my calories. I stayed within my calories for the most part, and only once did I go over my fat grams and that was when I had the McDonalds.

Exercise wise I only exercised 4 days this week. I just didn't want to. I was too tired. I had to force myself to do 30 minutes on the Wii. But 4 is better than none.

Needless to say I was not looking forward to the weigh-in this week.......so here are the numbers.....
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

WEEKLY WEIGH IN:

DATE: 02/13/2011

WEIGHT: 209.5 lbs.

DIFFERENCE FROM PREVIOUS WEEK: -2.5  YAHOOOOOO!!!!!!!

YAY!!!! I guess the calorie counting is paying off! Gotta keep it up though!   
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Are you trying to lose weight? How are you doing?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Sleep IS good

Over the last week I have been so tired and rundown. I thought it was because it was that time of the month for me, but the more I thought about it the more that didn't seem to make sense. Last night I had an AHA moment...Dear Hubby and I were talking and I told him I felt stressed and tense and tired. He told me that I looked exhausted and that I should take a long bubble bath and go to bed early. He had to work last night so this would occur after I put the kiddos in bed. I said "But I need to exercise and get some things done." He told me that the exercise wouldn't help if I was exhausted. After he left for work, I began to think about it. All week I had been stressed about lots of little things, I hadn't been sleeping well, I had been staying up late to exercise and to work on things on the computer, I hadn't been eating well....Basically I wasn't taking care of me. So......

Last night after I got Rebecca and Jacob put to bed, I turned out all the lights downstairs. Took my magazines that I had gotten in the mail and a new Children's book that I got to review and went upstairs, changed into my pj's and laid in bed to read. This was at 9:15. The last time I looked at the clock it was 9:45 and then I woke up at 12:45, got up and turned the light off and then woke up at 7:30 this morning. Today, I feel AWESOME!!!  I am not tired. I have energy and feel uplifted. To that end I need to start listening to my body and getting sleep. Because SLEEP IS GOOD FOR YOU!!!!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Letters of Intent--February 11, 2010

Foursons


Foursons has a great weekly feature that she runs, called Letters of Intent. In it, she invites readers to write their own letters of intent and to link them up to her post. This week I have decided to join in....

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Dear Motivation and Willpower,

Where, oh WHERE have you guys gone? Last week you stood right there by me. As I was watching what I ate, staying within my calorie count you were right there to keep me on track. As I was exercising each day, you were right there to keep me on track. You were right there with  me as I weighed in and had lost 4 lbs. So I ask again, WHERE ARE YOU?????

I NEED YOU TO COME BACK!!!! I have struggled this week with temptations galore. I ate Wendy's on Tuesday (and I was kind of good, I had a salad with lite ranch, a Jr. bacon cheeseburger and a diet coke)..but I could feel you wavering and leaving....I bought Tootsie Rolls at the store to eat. Thursday night we had McDonald's for dinner (as a treat for my kiddos who got shots at the doctors office (Rebecca got 5 and Jacob got 4)) and I chose to get the Big Mac Meal and eat the whole thing AND an apple pie. I didn't exercise on Wednesday because I just didn't want to. I had to FORCE myself to do 30 minutes on Thursday night.

WHERE ARE YOU????? Please come back. I was doing so well and now....well not so much. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE come back!!!!!!!!

Begging,
Rachel
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To read more letters of Intent please visit Foursons.

Book Review: A Sportcaster's Guide to Watching Football


I love reading and I try to read something everyday---be it the newspaper, a magazine, or part of a book. I also love sports! So when Kathy at I Am a Reader Not a Writer offered me the chance to receive and review A Sportscaster's Guide to Watching Football I jumped on the chance! (Thanks Kathy!)
I wanted to read this book for this reason:  My husband is the sports editor of our local newspaper. He loves all sports, but football is his absolute favorite. He loves to watch and talk football.  I know some basic things about football, but I want to be able to understand more and to be more involved in conversations with hubby about his favorite hobby. I want to be able to understand the different positions and why hubby yells when he says there should be a pass play instead of a hand-off, etc.

In A Sportscaster's Guide to Watching Football, Mark Oristano uses his career as a professional sports broadcaster as a stepping stone to teach the average Joe about the game of football. He give a comprehensive guideline as to what each position player on offense is, what each player on defense is, what the goals are for a first down, second down, etc. He tells you what special teams are, and what points are awarded when (safety, touchdown, field goal, etc.). He also includes "Time-Outs," which are funny and poignant stories that he has heard from around the NFL.

As a beginning fan of the NFL, this book was a great read. I read it before the Super Bowl so that I could actually, maybe see what all the fuss was about. I will admit that I still don't understand everything that was going on in the game, but after reading A Sportscaster's Guide to Watching Football I understood more than I ever did while watching a game. Even my hubby was impressed when at one point I called out "that's a blitz" before the TV. announcers did! (Score 1 for me!). This book is a great read for those who want to understand more about the game. It is also a great read for the sports fan who may want a refresher course on what each position is.

(Once again, thanks to Kathy at I Am a Reader Not a Writer for the opportunity to review this book. She sent me the book free of charge. All opinions of this book are my own!)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Book Review: Sweet Rains by Nora Roberts


One of my favorite authors of all times is Nora Roberts. I have read many of her books but not all. I recently read Sweet Rains which is a reprint of two of her stories-- Second Nature, and Lessons Learned. Having never read either of these stories I was excited to find some new to me stories!

Second Nature tells the story of Lee Radcliffe, a high power staff reporter at "Celebrity" magazine. She prides herself on getting the scoop that no one else an get. Her latest project is to get the first ever interview with the reclusive, horror novelist Hunter Brown. After months of research that has lead to nothing but dead ends, Radcliffe get the tip that Brown is going to be a guest speaker at a writer's convention. Given that Radcliffe has a novel that she had begun to write, Lee signs up for the conference as a writer. What follows is a hilarious yet serious tale of living to be what you were born to be, loving even when it goes against what you think is the best parth and about finding the love of your life as you are finding out who you really are.

Lessons Learned tells the story of Juliet Trent, a publicist who has found herself on a cross country tour with a famous chef Carlo Franconi. Trent has her life path figured out, where she is going, how she will get there. Franconi is a world-renowned chef and cookbook author. He takes each day as it comes but is very smart with life lessons. He is also devastatingly handsome. He makes time for fun and life in his life. As the story unfolds, Franconi and Trent find themselves more than just professional business associates. They are complete opposites in professional personality, but personally they are very much alike. What follows is a story of love overcoming challenges that are faced by two driven individuals and how they learn to compromise with one another.

Second Nature kept me intrigued and kept me on the edge of my seat with surprises and twists that I could not see coming. I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this story! Lessons Learned, in my opinion, was one of Nora Roberts' weaker stories. The story line was hard to stay interested in and at times I wanted to stop reading it as I was tired of what seemed to be the same problem being retold over and over. It was not one of my favorites. Overall, Sweet Rains, is some good and some bad. If and when I reread it, I will probably just reread "Second Nature" and leave "Lessons Learned" for someone else to read.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Dreaming of Vacations....

Finances are tight. It is snowy and cold. Which means that I am dreaming of vacations....lol... I would love to go somewhere this summer with Bill and the kids. But I really don't see that happening since we are saving up to pay for Rebecca's pre-k tuition, and we will probably be moving in May or June. (We are renting and we are looking for another rental that is closer to my work and that is cheaper to heat than this house). But one can still dream....

Some of the places I love to visit and would love to take my kids include:

Anywhere that has a beach! LOL. I love the beaches of North Carolina, especially the Atlantic Beach/ Emerald Isle area. Maybe one day we can afford to take the kids. The last time I was there I was pregnant with Rebecca and we went with my parents and siblings, and sister-in-law and niece.

Pittsburgh, PA
I know, I know it is quite ordinary. I love the city though and there is so much of it that I have not seen. The last time we were there I was pregnant with Jacob and Bill had to be taken to the emergency room for what we thought was a heart problem, but thankfully turned out to be gall stones! I would love to go back and get to enjoy the city and take in some of the museums, etc.

Gatlinburg, TN
I LOVE the Gatlinburg/ Pigeon Forge area of Tennesee. Bill and I went on our honeymoon to Gatlinburg and we went again when Rebecca was 2 or so. It was so much fun and I KNOW my kids would really LOVE the aquarium...

Maybe one day we can afford to take a vacation. I wish it was sooner...but one can dream right? If you could take a vacation where would you go?




 
 

Monday, February 7, 2011

Feb.7- 13 Grocery shopping and Menu Plan Monday

Each week I will post what I spend at the grocery store each week so that I will be accountable to you lovely readers as well as to myself and so that I can see how I am doing. I hope to spend on average $60 a week on groceries. I will also be posting my menu plan on Mondays as well (as part of Orgjunkie's Menu Plan Monday series).

For the week of  February 7- 13 , 2011:

GROCERY SHOPPING:

KROGER:

12 pack diet pepsi
4- 12 packs mountain dew (for dear hubby!)
2 gallons skim milk ($3.47 a gallon--OUCH!!!)
1 gallon whole milk
2-apple juice
2- orange juice (used BOGO free coupon from Minute Maid facebook offer)
2- hot dogs (on sale for $1 a piece, originally were 4.29 each!)
Nestle crunch candy (-$1.50 coupon)
Tarter sauce
2- chicken nuggets (-$1.00 coupon)
Fish fillets
2- mandarin oranges
2- bags chicken tenders (-$1.00 coupon)
frozen pizza
american cheese
bananas
5 lbs. ground beef
chicken bag and season
pistachios (-$1.00 coupon)
(also used -$3 frozen coupon)
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TOTAL: $75.04

Better than last week but still above the $60 I would love to keep it at. Ugghhh...Anyone have any suggestions??? Please???

I do know it was higher than I wanted because Dear Hubby HAD to have his Mountain Dew, and I needed Diet Pepsi for dinner guests next week. We were also out of meat in our freezer due to our pantry challenge in January, so I had to get beef and chicken. It is so hard to keep our grocery bill down. I am going to keep trying though! I will not give up and I will get it down!


Now on to our menu....

 








Last week's menu was a great success. We stuck to it! :)

This week we will be eating:

MONDAY: Baked pasta (meatless) with green beans

TUESDAY: Chili, grilled cheese, carrots

WEDNESDAY: Baked chicken (in a bag) with carrots and potatoes, green beans

THURSDAY: Fish fillets, macaroni and cheese, corn and peas

FRIDAY: Cheeseburger Macaroni and broccoli

SATURDAY: Leftovers and/or Pizza

SUNDAY: Not sure yet....My in-laws are coming into town for dinner and not sure if I am cooking or if we are going out.
For more great menu ideas please visit: orgjunkie.com!

 

Hope everyone has a great week of good food!!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Weight Loss Check-up #5 (February week 1)

Last month I ended up losing and gaining the weight back, so I started and stopped at the same weight--216. I was exercising most of the time, but I wasn't breaking a sweat and I wasn't watching what I ate. I decided last week to revamp how I am going about this lifestyle change and made some changes to my strategy. So here are my goals for this current month:

FEBRUARY:

DIET:
  • continue menu planning each week ( I did great with this in January and want to continue)
  • count calories each day
    • keep calories between 1800- 2200. I think I was eating upwards of 3000 calories last year every day.
  • keep a food journal
    • This ties into counting calories, but if I keep a food journal and keep it on the counter so my husband can see it I am much less likely to cheat.  
  • work on drinking more water (at least 50 oz a day)
EXERCISE:
  • work out 5 days out of the week. Do either the Wii Fit plus, or the 30 day shred dvd.
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WEEKLY WEIGH IN:

DATE: 02/06/2011

WEIGHT: 212 lbs.

DIFFERENCE FROM PREVIOUS WEEK: -4  YAHOOOOOO!!!!!!!

YAY!!!! I guess the calorie counting and exercising is paying off! Gotta keep it up though! Feeling very positive about this!  
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Are you trying to lose weight? How are you doing?

Friday, February 4, 2011

KIDS BOOK REVIEW: The Dragon and the Turtle



The Dragon and the Turtle by Donita K. Paul and Evangeline Denmark is a very cute kids story. It chronicles the story of Padraig the dragon who is enjoying life eating crunchy, nutty, squishy bugs. He wants to find more bugs to eat, but instead he finds Roger the turtle who was sad and lost. Roger, who loves to explore as a pirate, has lost his way home. Padraig decides to help Roger even though he is very hungry. Using clues given to him by Roger and based on the five senses, Padraig flies up to help find Roger's home. As they are searching Padraig and Roger learn facts about each other and about different they really are (for one Padraig loves the land, and Roger loves the sea) but how great it is to be friends. Upon finding Roger's home, Padraig and Roger, who like many different things, finds one thing in common that they do like...Roger's Mom's snapper cookies!

The Dragon and the Turtle is an adorable story with colorful illustrations. The illustrations, by Vincent Nguyen, are not loud and bright, but are rather just the right combinations of brightness and depth. The perfect pictures to go along with a sweet story!

I read this book to my 4 year old and she loved it! As she gets older and we read it again and again, I will use some of the discussion questions that are found at the back of the book and we may even make the recipe that is included in the book for snapper cookies!

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who has children or grandchildren!

DISCLAIMER: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Letters of Intent-- February 4, 2011

Foursons


Foursons has a great weekly feature that she runs, called Letters of Intent. In it, she invites readers to write their own letters of intent and to link them up to her post. This week I have decided to join in....

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Dear St. Vincent,

I am just wondering why you called off school yesterday. I understand Tuesday. I understand Wednesday. But yesterday the skies were clear, the sun was shining, the roads had been cleared. You had power. And yet there was no school? Was it because the public schools called off? At this rate the kids will be going to school into July.

Just Curious

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Dear City of Mount Vernon,

Thank you for coming and pushing the HUGE tree limb out of the road even though there was power lines down and ice everywhere. I do appreciate it! And thank you for keeping the streets somewhat clear, I know it was tough but I think you did an amazing job!

An Appreciative Citizen
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To read more letters of Intent please visit Foursons.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Book Review: Between Sisters


Do you have a sister that you love with all your heart and soul, yet whose decisions at times make you want to scream and hit her in the head and ask "what are you thinking?"

Meghann Dontess has such a sister, Claire Cavenaugh. Meghann is a high profile divorce attorney in Seattle who 27 years ago made the decision to leave Claire with her biological father, after practically raising her for their mother, who chose the chase of Hollywood stardom to raising her own daughters. Meghann lives her life alone, going out with different men most nights, not making any commitments, being lonely but not wanting to face the loneliness and guilt that comes from walking out on your sister. Claire, on the other hand, is a single mom who is raising her daughter alone while helping her father run his small campground. In Between Sisters ,by Kristin Hannah, Claire has fallen in love with a country singer and is getting ready to enter marriage for the first time. Meghann has come to try to talk some sense into her after being apart for more than 2 decades. Deep down she doesn't want Claire to get hurt by love. What follows is a poignant story of love, life, the bond of sisterhood, tragedy, life lessons and how even after 2 decades aparts wounds and guilt can be healed and family can be reunited as family.

This was the first book by Kristin Hannah that I have read. I can say without a doubt that this will not be my last. Hannah writes with such emotion that kept me enthralled throughout much of the book. The characters were well developed and the story plot line kept me interested in the story.

The one downside was that I found the first eight chapters to be very boring and with the emphasis on filling you in on the background of most of the main characters. I had a hard time concentrating and trying to find common ground among the characters and how their stories melded together. I took me over a week to read the first eight chapters (100 pages or so) and one night to finish the rest of the book.

I would definitely recommend this book, and without revealing the plot twist, I would recommend that you read it with a box of tissues handy for the ending!

Have you read any good books lately? Let me know about them!

Chinese New Year


Happy Chinese New Year! 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

February Goals

It is February already and there is a lovely winter storm going on outside...full of ice, ice and did I mention, ICE? So I am stuck inside and what better excuse to think about and plan out my goals for February 2011. This month I want to:

PERSONAL GOALS:
  • Continue working on weight loss
    • To do this, exercise for 20+ minutes 6 days a week. Do either Wii Fit Plus workout or Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred DVD. (I started this last month, now I just need to be more consistent with it.
    • Calorie count! Keep calories under 2100 a day. I was eating upwards of 2700-3000 a day (head hung in shame!) mostly due to snacking and late night eating.
    • Drink at least 50 oz of water a day. I have been doing better on this, but there are days I get none. I DON'T want to get dehydrated!
  • Read at least 2 books
  • Have a date night with Bill
  • Watch at least one movie...either "The Blind Side" or "The Last Song"
  • Try at least 1 new recipe this month
  • Limit the time that I am on the computer while the kids are awake.
FINANCIAL GOALS:
  • Try to keep grocery spending down to $60 or less a week.
  • Keep household item spending (toilet paper, pads, diapers, etc.) to less than $50 for the month
  • Do and File taxes before February 15.
  • Open ING saving account for irregular expenses (water, AAA, moving, and Rebecca tuition for the fall)
  • Write at least 5 companies a week for coupons.

I know these are all doable. I just need to do them!!

Did you make goals for February? Let me know what they are!