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Saturday, November 30, 2013

November Goals Update

  • Complete the 30 Day Plank Challenge. We started this last week. Done!
  • Do DDP Yoga with Jesse at least 5 nights a week. I actually did yoga every single night except for one. Woohoo!
  • Read 2 books, Kindle or paper. Done! See below for details.

  • Learn two new songs/verses of hymns. Through no fault of my own, the kids have picked up on a few of the songs of the liturgy. I caught them singing along during church. We've also been working on the verses to "Go Tell It On The Mountain" but we haven't quite finished yet.
  • Go to the Omro Library. We've lived here 5 months and haven't been there yet. Not done.

  • Come up with a healthy version of the Thanksgiving menu (we're hosting!) We had turkey, Maple Glazed Carrots, Poblano Sweet Potatoes, Cranberry Sauce (based on my faint memory of my recipe last year), and Paleo Pumpkin Pie. Yum!
  • Include more (a lot more!) Paleo recipes in our meal plans.We survived a month of Paleo eating. Read more about it here.
Books I Read This Month:
  • Adopting The Minimalist Mindset by Ben Knight (free on my Kindle): "The journey to becoming a minimalist isn't difficult, but you do need to practice discipline...Remember, the first step is to change your mindset and take a hard look at how you value your life. If you can see that most items don't improve the quality of your life, you can then focus on the items that bring you joy." I've found that a lot of books on minimalism are pretty similar, but there are usually a few good nuggets of wisdom in them.
  • 100 Pound Loser by Jessica Heights (bought in an ebook bundle in spring 2013): I was actually really underwhelmed by this one, maybe in part because I didn't realize it was only 30 pages long.  I guess I was expecting more stories, more journal-type anecdotes from her experiences while losing 100 pounds.  Still, good for her for losing the weight with 4 kids and dealing with fibromyalgia.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Thoughts On A Month Of (Mostly) Paleo Eating

For the past month or so, we've been eating a mostly paleo diet.  It was actually easier than I thought, at least in some ways.  Here's a breakdown of how it went:
Budget. Our food budget has gone up.  We were at $150 each month, along with $50 for household items.  However, looking at our past few months of statements, we had also been spending a couple hundred dollars a month on eating out.  Ouch! We really needed to reign that in anyways, regardless of how our grocery budget changed.  We ended up spending about $250 on food, but we only ate out I think twice, so we ended up spending less total, even thought the grocery budget went up.

Time. Obviously making real food, especially with lots of veggies, takes time.  I have already been making quite a bit from scratch, so it didn't add too much extra time to that. I did spend a lot of time chopping veggies and portioning meat over the first few days after each grocery trip though.  It also took me longer to plan the menu each two-week cycle because I didn't have a lot of paleo recipes to pull from, so I had to go find those, then make detailed ingredients lists, then combine those into shopping lists.

Grocery Shopping. Because paleo eating requires so many veggies and fresh produce items, even though I made a two-week menu plan, we went shopping at least once a week.  We did a bigger trip for non-perishables and produce that would last for two weeks (as well as items that freeze well that I could prep and throw in the freezer), and then a smaller trip the second week.  I was definitely more conscious of not wasting food and making sure every bit was used up since the grocery bills were a bit higher than I was used to.

Recipes. We used mostly recipes from Everyday Paleo, a cookbook we picked up from the local bookstore. Out of all that we tried, there were only two that weren't really hits, although the kids didn't like quite as many as we did. 

Kids. We supplemented the kids' paleo eating with milk, yogurt, bread, pasta, and occasional treats. We did this mostly because they are used to eating these things, and to help them adjust to eating what we were eating, we included some things they were used to that weren't paleo.

Cheating. I have some candy in a cupboard, and we each pulled an occasional treat from there. Some of our meals contained beans. We had cereal and oatmeal for breakfast some mornings, which also included milk.  And I continued to have my almost daily coffee.  Not perfectly paleo, but these cheats helped us stick with the rest of it.

So will we continue? Generally, yes. We will include many of these paleo recipes in our monthly plans. However, we've both agreed that we will not stick completely to the paleo diet, as it is also more budget conscious for us to include things like beans and brown rice in our diets rather than just meats and veggies.  Plus, we do have some favorite recipes that aren't paleo that we would like to include.  We will, however, try not to return the the hundreds a month in eating out, because that was a bad habit we were glad to break!

What about you? How do you feel about the paleo diet?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Weekly Coupon Shopping

CVS ran some really good deals this week.  I wanted to do this deal to get the $50 ECBs, but our location didn't have those cards. The manager was willing to manually put it in for a different prepaid card, but they only take cash for those, and I didn't have that, so I decided to skip it. I still got lots of good deals!
  • 2 Sparkle Paper Towels: $1, get $1ECBs (limit 2). Used B1G1 printable = paid $1, got $2ECBs.
  • 2 Kraft Mac & Cheese: $0.99, get $0.99ECBs (limit 2). Used free coupon from mail = paid $0.99, got $1.98ECBs.
  • Right Guard Deoderant: $2.99, get $2ECBs.
  • 4 Hershey's Bagged Candy: B1G1 Free $3.99. Used two $2.50/2 CVS printables (no longer available), $1.10/2 printable, and $1.00/2 printable = paid $1.88/4.
  • Reese's Pieces Theater Box: $0.99, get $0.99ECBs.
  • Hershey's Bar: $0.79, get $0.79ECBs.
  • CVS Wipes: $0.99, get $0.99ECBs.
  • Glade Plug-In Warmer: $1.25, get $1.25ECBs. Used $1.00/1 printable = paid $0.25, got $1.25ECBs.
  • Colgate Toothpaste: $3.00. Used $2.50/1 CVS coupon machine and $0.50/1 (SS 11/24/13) = free.
  • Orbit Gum: $1.00, get $1.00ECBS.
  • 5 Gum: $1.00, get $1.00ECBs.
  • 2 Starbucks Refreshers (not shown): 2/$3, get $3ECBs.
  • Used $10ECBs from last week = paid $8.74, got $15ECBs!
Other Coupon Shopping:
  • Starbucks: Used the Free Hot Chocolate When You Buy Any Espresso Drink from Amazon Local (which gave us 2 kids hot chocolates for free when we bought 2 regular drinks), along with a 50% off of any espresso drink, to get drinks for the whole family for just over $5. Awesome!

Monday, November 25, 2013

On Meeting New People At The Laundromat

Once a week, I load up our clothes and head to the laundromat. For about an hour, I watch the machines spin around and play on my phone. And usually, there is at least one other person watching the same spinning.  Sometimes, we talk.

Talking to strangers doesn't come easy for me. I'm an introvert, and by nature I would rather just sit on my phone. It's also one of my only breaks during the week, so I want to do what I want. But. I've met some interesting people.

There was the grumpy old couple with the broken machine at home, who fit all the stereotypes of crochety old woman and her husband who just follows along.  There was the man whose beer can fell out of his pocket as he collected his clean clothes from the dryer.

And today, there was a woman who started off talking about the weather, and ended up talking about baby spacing and infertility. We only scratched the surface of her story in the twenty minutes or so we shared, but it was a real human connection.

I don't know why we had this conversation. Maybe she needed to talk, even after all these years. Maybe I needed to hear it to realize how blessed I have been to have my babies spaced so evenly pretty much when I wanted them to be.

I want to have more conversations like this. I psych myself up thinking it's so hard, but really? It just starts with the weather, with saying hello.  Maybe next week...

Sunday, November 24, 2013

What I'm Reading...

What I'm Reading:

Useful Finds From Antique Stores. I love shopping for antiques, but it helps to have a few items or purposes in mind when you go. (Little House Living)

If You Shop On Thanksgiving, You Are Part Of The Problem. (The Matt Walsh Blog)

What Downton Abbey And Meyers Briggs Taught Me About Living Simply. I'm Lord Grantham, apparently. Not sure I like that - I like the assessment, but he's one of my least favorite characters. (The Art Of Simple)

What's Going To Replace Trans Fat? (Kitchen Stewardship)

How A Slow Cooker Can Save Your Family Hundreds Of Dollars. (The Simple Dollar)

I'll share more of what I've been pinning next week.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

What I'm Reading...

I'm a little late on this one today. Two of the three kids have colds, so we haven't slept much the past couple of nights. It's throwing everything a little off schedule...

What I'm Reading:
Touching Portraits Of Mothers With Their One-Day-Old Babies. (My Modern Met via The Happiest Home)

The 80/20 Rule, The Impending Bombardment Of Sugar And Teaching Kids About Sweets In Moderation. (Don't Waste The Crumbs)

10 Rules For Grandparents. (People I Want To Punch In The Throat)

Do Simple Living On Your Own Terms. (Home Your Way)

I'm Not The Only One Who Has A Right To My Body. (The Matt Walsh Blog)

What I'm Pinning:

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Menu Plan November 17-30

The first two weeks of Paleo eating went pretty well. I actually didn't miss baking as much as I thought I would (the only thing I baked was the pumpkin pie for Jesse's birthday, which was amazing). I've still had a bit of sugar in my daily coffee, as well as the occasional square of chocolate, but otherwise, I've cut back on that a lot as well.  The food has been nearly all delicious, at least for the adults. The kids have been less thrilled with a few of the veggie heavy dishes, but they know they have to eat what's in front of them, so they have (for the most part).

Here's the plan for the rest of the month, including Thanksgiving, which we are hosting for our parents.

Monday, November 17
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Chicken, Apple, and Peanut Butter Wraps
Dinner: Chicken Cacciatore

Tuesday, November 18
Breakfast: Winter Squash Hash & Eggs
Lunch: Chicken Fajita Salads
Dinner: Leftover Chicken Cacciatore

Wednesday, November 19
Breakfast: Leftover Hash & Eggs
Lunch: Chicken Fajita Salads
Dinner: Stuffed Mushrooms

Thursday, November 20
Breakfast: Oatmeal
Lunch: Turkey Chili from the freezer
Dinner: One Pot Chicken Drumsticks

Friday, November 21
Breakfast: Eggs, Fruit, Toast
Lunch: Salads with Leftover One Pot Chicken
Dinner: Sloppy Joes, Sweet Potato Fries

Saturday, November 22
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Tomato Soup with Chicken
Dinner: Leftover Sloppy Joes and Sweet Potato Fries

Sunday, November 23
Breakfast: Eggs, Fruit, Toast
Lunch: Leftover Tomato Soup with Chicken
Dinner: Chicken Stir Fry

Monday, November 24
Breakfast: Oatmeal
Lunch: Leftover Chicken Stir Fry
Dinner: Beef Taco Salads

Tuesday, November 25
Breakfast: Eggs, Fruit, Toast
Lunch: Pumpkin Chili with Chicken
Dinner: Beef Taco Salads

Wednesday, November 26
Breakfast: Creamy Breakfast Quiche
Lunch: Leftover Pumpkin Chili
Dinner: Mexican Meatballs, Side Salad

Thursday, November 27
Breakfast: Leftover Quiche
Lite Lunch: PB&J, Fruits, Veggies (snack-y lunch)
Thanksgiving Meal (mid-afternoon): Turkey, Poblano Sweet Potatoes, Maple Glazed Carrots, Cranberry Sauce, Paleo Pumpkin Pie
Lite Dinner/Snack: Leftovers or Sandwiches

Friday, November 28
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Leftover Mexican Meatballs
Dinner: Leftover Thanksgiving Dinner

Saturday, November 29
Breakfast: Southwestern Frittata
Lunch: Leftover Thanksgiving Dinner
Dinner: Slow Cooker Chicken Curry

Sunday, November 30
Breakfast: Leftover Frittata
Lunch: TBD
Dinner: Leftover Chicken Curry

Thursday, November 14, 2013

On Yoga And The Ups And Downs Of Weight Loss

I like results. I'm one of those people who uses feedback for constant motivation. So when I'm trying to lose weight, I weigh myself every day.  The weight fluctuates, but in general it's been moving in a downward direction, which is good.

I've been doing DDP Yoga for 2 months now, kind of. The first month I did it for about a week straight, then got frustrated, and stopped. Even with that little amount of effort, I lost several inches (no weight, but inches are good too).  A couple weeks later I picked it up again, and now I've been doing yoga for almost 3 weeks.  I really like it. I can tell that I'm getting stronger, and more flexible, and my weight has been going down slowly.

It's not all sunshine and rainbows though. Shortly after I started up, I thought I got the chicken pox. Based on my own unofficial diagnosing (and baby Hannah's lack of pox, which she would have caught by now), I may be allergic to my own sweat. Until recently, I didn't even know that could happen, but apparently when a sedentary person starts exercising, the toxins leaving the body through sweat can produce an allergic reaction, which peaks between ages 26-28 (I'm 27).

I basically have chicken pox looking bumps in random spots on my body, most noticeably near my ankles, knees, and lower back.  I've been showering immediately after working out, which has helped make things more manageable, but it has been an unexpected challenge, to say the least.  (If that's more than you wanted to know, I apologize, but I wanted to share my experiences as I lose weight, because it is an important part of my life right now.)

This is one of those instances where I'm putting myself first, and that's really difficult for me. I work out after dinner, and while I sort of keep an eye on the kids, I'm primarily focused on what I'm doing, and letting Jesse take care of the kids.  And then I take even more time for myself to go shower.  This shouldn't be hard, to take 30-45 minutes to myself, for my health, but it is something I still struggle with sometimes.  I'm really good at mommy guilt for things like this, especially when the kids are whining and making a mess, and there's a stack of dishes in the sink, and so many other distractions. 

But just like all my other skills, I'm working on it, and I'm really proud of how far I've come.  This is only the beginning.

Weekly Coupon Shopping

I stopped at Walgreens to pick up a prescription, and grabbed 6 boxes of Kleenex too, on sale for $0.99 each. Used three $0.50/2 coupons (House Party booklet) = paid $4.74, got $1.50RR.

  • 2 Colgate Max Clean Toothpaste: $2.99 each, get $2.50ECBs (limit 2). 
  • Schick Hydro 3 Razor: $10.49, get $4ECBs. Used free coupon from mail = paid $0, got $4ECBs!
  • CVS Acetaminophen: $4.99. Used $4.99/1 CVS coupon machine = free.
  • Total spent: $6.82, got $9ECBs.
Other Coupon Shopping:
  • Starbucks: Used 50% off drink loaded onto my gold card = saved $2.17.
  • Target: Used 10% off Lunchables (saved $0.25 on 2) and 15% off Kids Shoes (saved $3.00) on Cartwheel App.
  • Target: Used 15% off Threshold Desks to save $16.50.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Weekly Coupon Shopping (Times 2!)

I did do some coupon shopping last week, but I didn't get a chance to finish the post.'s last week's shopping, followed by this week's.

Last Week:

We got a CVS! That was my big excitement for this week. So of course I went on the opening day and shopped the sales. They weren't actually that great, but I did get a few things...


  • 3 Dawn Dish Soaps: $0.99 each. Used three $0.50/1 (P&G 9/29/13) = paid $0.49 each. I am finally almost out of dish soap. I think the last time I bought it was about 6 months ago.
  • 2 Sobe Lifewaters: $0.88 each. Used two $1/1 CVS printables (no longer available) = 2 free!
  • Pampers Jumbo Pack: $8.99, get $1ECB. Used $1.50/1 printable = paid $7.49, got $1ECB.
  • Gillette ProGlide Razor: $9.99, get $5ECBs. Used $3/1 (P&G mailer) = paid $6.99, got $5ECBs.
  • Total spent: $16.90, got $6ECBs! Not a bad start!
Other Coupon Shopping:
  • Starbucks: Used free drink coupon loaded onto my gold card = saved $4.88.
  • Target: Bought two cans of Libby's pumpkin at $1.69 each. Used two $0.50/1 printables = paid $1.19 each.
This Week:

  • Gerber Formula: $23.99. Used $2.25/1 printable = paid $21.74.
  • 6 Gerber 1st Foods: $0.99 each. Used $0.85/6 printable = paid $5.09/6.
  • Powerade (not shown): $0.59.
  • 2 Coloring Books (not shown): $1 each. Used 10% off of Dollar Spot items (Cartwheel app) = paid $0.90 each.
  • Saved $0.05 for using my own bag.
  • Total spent: $29.29
  • 4 Lindt Chocolate Bars: 2/$4. Used four $2/1 printables = 4 free! They were out of my favorite flavor, but these are still good.
  • 2 Nice! Eggs: $0.99 each.
  • Butterball Turkey Bacon: $0.99. Used $1/1 printable = free!
  • Total spent: $2.37.
Target (again)
  • Huggies Jumbo Pack: $8.99. Used $2/1 Target coupon (Target mailer), $1.50/1 printable, and 5% off Target Cartwheel = paid $5.14.
  • 2 Pampers Boxes: on clearance $14.84 each! Used $1.50/1 printable (I only had one with me) = paid $28.18/2!
  •  I bought some other items and I misplaced the receipt so I don't have a total for this one.

My mother-in-law didn't want her grand opening mailer, so she gave me the coupons from inside. Score!
  • Gummy Bears: $0.88. Free with coupon in mailer.
  • Colgate Toothbrush: $1.87. Free with coupon in mailer.
  • Bottled Water (not pictured): $0.88.
  • Paper Towels: $0.79. Used $0.79/1 from red coupon machine = free.
  • CVS Diapers: $12.29
  • CVS Wipes: $6.99. Used $3/1 CVS item purchase in mailer.
  • Used $5/$15 coupon in mailer, and $6ECBs from last time = paid $6.73.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Reformation Breakfast and Menu Plan November 4-16

My friend Tricia came up with this idea for her Sunday School activity/treat, and I thought it was awesome, so I borrowed it for our Reformation breakfast.  On Reformation we celebrate Martin Luther's nailing the 95 Theses on the Catholic church's door, thus starting the break from Catholicism to what eventually became the Lutheran church, which we are a part of.  One of the symbols is the Luther seal.

So we made the Luther seal on pancakes.

The pancake for the yellow ring, blueberries for the blue, whipped cream for the white rose, strawberries for the heart, and chocolate chips for the cross.  Pretty and delicious!

One of my November goals is to add more Paleo foods into our diet. It's something that we want to try to see how it affects how we feel, weight loss, and so on. If it helps, and if we can fit it into our budget, we're going to keep it going, at least part of the time.  This does mean, however, that I'm back to planning all the meals, which I don't love doing (although it does make life a whole lot easier in the long run).

Monday, November 4
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Soups from the Freezer (Chicken Enchilada Chili or Tomato)
Dinner: One Pot Chicken Drumsticks

Tuesday, November 5
Breakfast: Winter Squash Hash & Eggs
Lunch: Chicken Salads (using leftover chicken from last night)
Dinner: Crockpot Italian Sausage with Peppers & Onions (doubled)

Wednesday, November 6
Breakfast: Leftover Hash & Eggs
Lunch: Leftover Italian Sausage
Dinner: Pear & Ground Pork Stuffed Sausage

Thursday, November 7
Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs & Fruit
Lunch: Vegetable Soup
Dinner: Chicken Fajita Mix, Refried Beans

Friday, November 8
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Tortillas with Refried Beans and Cheese
Dinner: Crockpot Beef & Broccoli for us, hot dogs for the boys

Saturday, November 9
Breakfast: Creamy Breakfast Quiche
Lunch: Vegetable Soup (made on Thursday)
Dinner: Chicken with Mushrooms & Onions (making extra chicken for salads for the next two days)

Sunday, November 10 (Jesse's birthday!)
Breakfast: Leftover Quiche
Lunch: Steak, Steamed Broccoli, Paleo Pumpkin Pie
Dinner: Chicken Salads

Monday, November 11
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Chicken Salads
Dinner: Turkey Crockpot Chili (doubling the vegetables)

Tuesday, November 12
Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs & Fruit
Lunch: Turkey "Sushi" Rolls
Dinner: Leftover Turkey Chili from last night

Wednesday, November 13
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Curry Chicken Salad on Cucumber Slices
Dinner: Mexican Beef Skewers, Poblano Sweet Potatoes

Thursday, November 14
Breakfast: Family Frittata
Lunch: Tomato Soup
Dinner: Leftover Skewers and Sweet Potatoes

Friday, November 15
Breakfast: Leftover Frittata
Lunch: Leftover Tomato Soup from yesterday
Dinner: Mini Meat Loaves, Carrot Fries

Saturday, November 16
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: TBD
Dinner: Leftover Meat Loaves and Fries

Unless linked otherwise, a lot of these recipes are from the Everyday Paleo Family Cookbook, which we bought a couple weeks ago.  We're not completely Paleo - you can see that we're still having cereal for breakfast, and we do have the occasional non-Paleo item. But overall, it's a good introduction.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

November Goals

We were gone on an Evangelism retreat this weekend, so I didn't get a chance to post this yet, but here are my goals for November.  I'm actually really excited about most of them, which means I should have more success.

  • Complete the 30 Day Plank Challenge. We started this last week.
  • Do DDP Yoga with Jesse at least 5 nights a week.
  • Read 2 books, Kindle or paper.
  • Learn two new songs/verses of hymns.
  • Go to the Omro Library. We've lived here 5 months and haven't been there yet.
  • Come up with a healthy version of the Thanksgiving menu (we're hosting!)
  • Include more (a lot more!) Paleo recipes in our meal plans. This also means the return of the full meal plan - breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I still have to do my shopping, so I have no idea if this will work with our tight budget. But we're going to try it.

What I'm Reading...

I found lots of good reads and things to pin this week!

What I'm Reading:

Practice: The Best Way To Overcome Fear. (Money Saving Mom)

Less Waste In, Less Waste Out. (Simple Mom)

Battling The Idol Of The Schedule. (Gidget Goes Home)

Handling Negative Net Worth. (The Simple Dollar)

Organic Milk vs. Conventional Milk: What's The Difference? (Don't Waste The Crumbs)

Help, Doc, I'm Bored By Boring Things. I Think I've Got The ADHD! (The Matt Walsh Blog)

What I'm Pinning: