Plus Size Barbie, Here

Plus Size Barbie, Here

Afternoon, all. 🙂 Hope you’re peachy, and January brought all the good things you were after. Let me tell you, February is going to be ah-mazing! Why? Because it has no choice, that’s why. Ha! I have some pretty high expectations for this oh-so-short month. There are 26 more days until March 1st, and I’m very excited to live every one of the like the gift it is.

Ask me why I’m so excited. Go on. Answer: no clue. I’m just chipper, and so thrilled to walk in faith and love the people the Lord puts in my path. Need to be loved? Waddle on over to my corner of the globe. This is what my former roommate, and intellectual comrade, Ashley calls my “Plus Size Barbie” mentality. Brilliant, brilliant.

Practically speaking, there are plenty of things to accomplish this month, and you know how I love my lists, so here you go.

– Five cardio workouts, including one core-specific session, each week.

– Continue Bible reading plan, days 33-59

– Cook all of our meals at home, save our anniversary dinner on the 20th

–  Finish reading The Borribles. Read Everything Must Change, and Mennonite In A Little Black Dress

– Pay off 1/2 of our largest credit card balance

– Take up my bookstore buddy’s invite to her church on Sunday morning

– Make a Hungry Caterpillar-themed blanket for my nephew, Adam. That boy’s momma loves her some HC, and threw what must have been the most extravagant HC party for Adam’s first birthday. Maybe the blanket is more for her than him? Boy can’t have too many blankets, I reckon. Forts have to be made from something!

I also just started a 30 day weight loss-related devotional,  but finishing it isn’t a goal so much as a pleasure. The last few weeks have seen a pretty big transformation in my view of food, and its purpose. Ever heard a big girl say she’s “in bondage to food?” Now you have. Peanut butter, chocolate, pizza, and soft drinks are like mean, but delicious, puppeteers whose primary joy is sucking mine away. Being healthier, and better able to serve my mission, is what I’m after. I don’t actually know what my mission is, but God is pretty cool with timing so I’m not concerned; I just know that being lethargic and bitter isn’t doing much to move me in His direction. Changing my eating habits and activity level are worship for me, right now.

Now, my lovelies, what are *you* doing in February? Hmmm?

Easy Honey Mustard Chicken

Easy Honey Mustard Chicken

I’ll be honest and say that we ate too much take away last week. Many hard earned dollars were sacrificed to Subway, as well as a tremendously over-priced “gourmet pizza bar.” So, in an effort to minimize this week’s grocery bill, I’ve planned next week’s menu using only what we have on hand, so we our shopping is limited to necessities such as milk, produce, and flour.

Tonight’s dinner is based on a couple of recipes that are staples in our house: Honey Mustard Chicken, broccoli, brown sugar carrots, and Cheddar Herb Biscuits. As Kirsten at stick a fork in it can show you how to handle the bread side of dinner, and the other sides are pretty straight forward, I’ll only share the preparation for the chicken. It’s super simple, and always tasty. The original recipe came from “Your Shirt is Not an Oven Mitt,” by Debbie Puente, a book full of recipes meant for college students, and people who don’t own potholders. I sort of have a love/hate relationship with it, as a lot of the nutritional information is incorrect, but it comes in handy for ideas for cheap and easy meals.

I digress. On with dinner, my hungry readers!

You will need:

Yes, that is a knife stuck in the chicken. I use it and the edge of my recipe binder to make a ghetto wedge. No frozen poultry stands a chance.

4-6 chicken pieces (I use 4 drumsticks, though thighs work well, too)

1/2 cup honey

1/2 cup Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon curry powder

2 tablespoons soy sauce

– Rinse chicken and pat dry. Place in a baking dish. (Glass works best.)

– Combine honey, curry powder, soy sauce, and Dijon mustard in a small bowl. Pour mixture over chicken.

As the Aussies say, "too easy."

– Cover dish with plastic wrap and marinate chicken in the fridge for at least an hour, though I heartily recommend at eight to ten.

– Bake at 350 Fahrenheit/ 180 Celsius for 50-60 minutes.

We’ve made a few adjustments to this recipe, as I’m believe that change is good and healthy and enjoyable, and my husband is one of those people who loves me and lets me ramble. My advice:

– Spend the extra $1, and get a good curry powder. It lasts for months, and makes a real difference.

– Local, raw honey is worth the extra expense, if you can find it. The jar in the photo was $5, and came from a friend at the outdoor, organic market that happens each Sunday. Raw honey can help alkalize the body, and has the potential to clear allergies (if the honey is local,) combat indigestion, and ease nausea when combined with a bit of ginger and lemon juice. It’s also a good replacement for sugar, when baking!

– The ” health” factor goes up exponentially if you can find an unpasteurized soy sauce. Tamari is an easy option, as it is fermented, and tarmind can also be used, though it is a bit more sour than salty. Don’t feel bad if you can’t find, or afford, either. I’m working on using up the pasteurized soy sauce we have from Aldi, and am still alive to tell the tale.

What’s for dinner at your house tonight? Ever used raw honey, or “natural” soy sauce? Tell me, please 🙂

* Just so you’re all aware, I honestly contemplated titling this post “I Feel Like Chicken Tonight.” What stopped me? As soon as the words I thought of it, that terrible commercial jingle lodged itself in my mind. I have not yet flapped my arms like a bird, though it is tempting.

Sleepy Thoughts

Sleepy Thoughts

The last few months have been a bit of a ride in this corner of the world. Extra mouths to feed, family dramas to navigate, and bills to pay have knocked us around a little, and it’s no exaggeration to say that I’ve slipped back into some very shady habits. (As shady as a Caucasian, middle-class, Christian girl from Iowa can get.)

As I tossed and turned in my mildly uncomfortable bed last night, beating myself up for enjoying too much bad food and negative chatter, the thought to pray about it slammed its way into my thoughts. Why my prayer life is always the first thing to go when life gets hairy is beyond me, but I digress.

For the first time in memory, I prayed for the desire to stop. For food to become nourishment, rather than an experience. To feel “full,” even if I’m not. To not say more than I should in order to gain some favor at work. For the ability to feel valued without feeling “important.” To put on my big girl pants, and grow up a little.

Maybe it’s completely inappropriate to take such selfish concerns to the Lord, as I know He has bigger things going on than my self control issues. But, here I am, begging for the discipline to keep my hand from picking up another piece of pizza, and my mouth from running off.

Just when I think I’m making progress, God has reminded me that refinement is a dynamic process, and isn’t going to end until His return. I love that about Him- there’s always room to grow in the relationship.

So, on that cheery note:

I pray to be a better friend- encouraging, honest, and sacrificial.

I pray to be a good wife- helpful, supportive, and kind.

I pray for wisdom to deal with what the world tosses my way.

And, I pray to become “less.” To make Him the center of all, and His glory the credit due. I pray to get out of His way 🙂

Panda Fail

Panda Fail

“Panda” is my favorite of the multiple nicknames that I’ve been blessed with. Who doesn’t love a panda? They’re adorable, and…well, they’re really cute. Some might even say that’s the reason they’re still alive. How many other species are closely protected, despite having a diet of a single food, and refusing to procreate?

I digress. I often run around singing little songs to describe what I’m doing, or thinking. Typically, it’s to the tune of “Banana Phone,” and  involves the word “panda.” Among my husband’s preferred songs are, “Panda Snack,” “Panda Phone,” and “Panda Fail,” which describe my hunger, my iPhone, and the multitude of mistakes I seem to make, respectively.

Today, I feel like a big ol’ Panda Fail. I’m not sad, or upset, really; just disappointed that I have next to no self control, and can’t seem to just pull my head out and move forward. My little panda wheels are just spinning while I complain.

Confession: I’ve never been more productive, or focused, as I was when I was 18. I look back, and I can’t believe what I was accomplishing; my weight was dropping, my grades were amazing, and I was totally on track to be a big, bad, successful lawyer. I know that none of these things are shows of my real value, but I still feel like a failure sometimes. I miss being impressive.

Confession: I’m deeply resentful of a few very specific people who are part of my daily life. Never before have I allowed myself to feel such ugly emotions. It actually makes me tear up to think about how much I wish I could say, but won’t for the sake of keeping the peace. Tomorrow, I’ll be posting about this situation, and asking for your advice as to how to move forward.

Confession: My relationship with food is out of control. Harli and I actually need to have a “sit down” discussion about him telling me “no” a bit more often. It’s my battle to fight, but it’s nice to know that he’s there to help when my will is too weak.

Confession: I’ve been wearing the same pair of jeans all weak. I don’t have any shoes that look decent with the dresses and skirts ethat I’m so passionate about, so I’m defying Modest Mom and wearing pants. I not so secretly hate this. Time to find some shoes in this Down Under world!

Confession: I still can’t find a church. The one I was going to turned out to be more of a cult than a place of spiritual growth. Oops. Sunday brings another opportunity to keep the search going.  God’s working on my heart in an amazingly difficult way, and I’m feeling very pulled to a specific area. Please pray that this one is a place that I can finally exhale.

Until tomorrow, Your  Faithful Panda Girl.

Conviction Kitchen (Also the name of an Aussie cooking show)

Conviction Kitchen (Also the name of an Aussie cooking show)

My husband doesn’t cook very often, but when he does, I squeal with delight. One of his specialties: Super Dogs. They’re amazing; long hot dogs, covered in bacon, caramelized onion, cheese, mustard, and ketchup, on a fluffy white bun. Every few weeks, I get a hankerin’, and beg my man to make them, and because he loves me and can’t stand to hear me sad (read: whining like a child), he gives in. He reminds me that it isn’t good for me, and that I need to put my health before my “wants,” and then makes us a dinner that you’d find at a baseball game or Girl Scout camp (L-Kee-Ta, ftw).

While this little anecdote is adorable, at best, it’s also a pretty good reflection of my attitude towards food: I see it, I want it, I whine, and I get it. Let’s just say that I was that girl who was 4′ 6″ and 98lbs in Kindergarten. K? 🙂

I’ve always had an “up and down” deal with my size. Last year, I dropped about 40lbs, partially due to reformed eating habits, and partially because I was too scared to eat much in front of my mother-in-law, and felt really good. I kept working at it, and lost a little more weight. Then, I got a full-time job, started eating more take-away food, stopped meal-planning as much, and promptly found a good chunk of the weight I’d lost. So what if my smallest capris were getting tight again- they were still smaller than the jeans I used to wear. I didn’t matter if I was eating Chinese food, instead of the salads I once made for dinner- at least the food wasn’t fried. And really, who cared if I was beginning to feel tired at 8:01pm again- I worked all day, and my fatigue couldn’t possibly be related to a drop in my fitness level. (Un-related: My grammar and punctuation in the last three sentences is atrocious. I have a degree in Journalism, and I still can’t decide when to use a semi-colon, and when a dash is appropriate.)

Moving on. In the last week, or so, I’ve come to realize how important it is to take care of the body I’ve been given. Harli’s gently reminded me that he doesn’t want anything to happen to me that could be prevented, and I’ve started to feel disgusting with all of the crap I’ve been shoving in my tummy. Plus, I’ve felt God really impressing upon me the importance of honoring Him with my body.

In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Paul instructs us by saying, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” I can never forget that I was bought at a price. Jesus died so I could have life, not so I could sit on the couch and play Cafe World on Facebook. The Lord loves us unconditionally, but as always, has plans for our benefit. (Jeremiah 29:11) This means that we have a responsibility to take care of what He’s given us: our children (gifts from God, right?), our community, the world we live in, and our bodies. Let’s just take a step back and ponder that one.

Does my inability to do a correct crunch make Jesus upset?

Does my love of fried chicken anger the Father?

Does the pride I take in only doing what I want to do, also take the place of living as Christ lived? Umm..yea. Gotta love it when the Lord corrects you, and then says, “And what are you going to do about this, Little One?”

While we were out and about last weekend, we came across a sale on Wii games at K-Mart, and decided to spend our “splurge” money on a game for each of us. Mr. “I Was Top in My State During High School” bought a tennis game, and I picked “My Fitness Coach.”  At Harli’s encouragement, I started “playing” (read: sweating) right away when we got home. Seven days later, I’m already feeling so. much. better. Not only are my work outs getting easier, but I’m not as hungry. No joke, I could only eat two slices of homemade pizza last night, when two weeks ago I was eating five. I’m sleeping better, my jeans are starting to loosen up, and my energy level is already creeping back up.

As much as I don’t want to plug any particular product, I can’t say enough about “My Fitness Coach.” It’s literally my own personally trainer in a Wii game. Before I even got to work out, I had to do a half hour evaluation, which included my measurements, fitness tests, and height and weight data. There are six different work out types; Yoga, Flexibility, Core, Upper Body, Lower Body, and Cardio; and the game allows you to pick your workout duration, giving you a different routine based on your abilities, each session. Throughout the work out, your “trainer” asks you how you’re feeling, and then adjusts the remainder of the session to suit your condition. For example, all of my sessions have included some Pilates and Yoga positions, and have several 10 second “rests” between difficult movements. In contrast, Harli’s work outs have very few “rests,” and include more exercises using hand weights. Seriously, I *love* this game!

Although it’s only been a week, I’m feeling very convicted with this whole “fitness” thing. It’s much like my faith, really; a challenge which changes regularly, and is often more than I feel like I can handle, but brings so much joy in the end.

I don’t want to always be a “big” girl. While I don’t have any weight-related health stuff at present (praise the Lord), I know that my risk of Type II Diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and vision issues, is much higher than I’m comfortable with. Plus, I want to be around for a long time; life is too sweet to end early on account of too many donuts. I want to be able to have children, and actually play with them. I want to have heaps of energy to spend on the people around me, to be able to sprint after my husband in a parking lot without worrying about how much I jiggle, and to have clothes that fit correctly. I want people to know that I’m a woman who obeys the Lord, even with something as seemingly trivial as her daily exercise schedule. I guess I want a lot. 🙂

Any advice on this weight-loss journey is much appreciated. I’d love to hear from you!

Why I Can’t Have S’mores

Why I Can’t Have S’mores

Australia does not have graham crackers. Or Hershey bars.

As a matter of fact, the following food items cannot be found in normal stores:

Dr. Pepper

Cherry cola of any sort- Oh, but they still stock Vanilla Coke…?

3 Musketeers

Reese’s anything

Bacon- what they call “bacon” is not bacon. It is diced or rasher-style ham.

Canadian Bacon- try explaining this one to the guy at Pizza Hut

Rapadura/Sucanat/Turbinado- natural sweeteners are hard to find. Stevia has just been introduced here :O

Canned biscuits

Canned cinnamon rolls

Hot Pockets

Jack’s or Tombstone frozen pizza- not that I ate them that regularly, but they were good

Cool Whip

2 liter and 20 oz bottles of pop

Canned frosting

Coupons- no lie; they don’t exist here. And food is double the cost.

Praise the Lord for Aldi. Without that blessed German creation, our food budget would be blown to pieces and I’d live in perpetual confusion when trying to do the grocery shopping.

Crock-Pot Whoops

Crock-Pot Whoops

Alright, so in a radical shift from my faith-related ruminations, sit back and listen to a tale of “Kraft Slow-Cooker Tex-Mex,” too much salsa, and some pouting. Seriously, sit down. Close YouTube, give your children an icy-pole (it’s what the Aussies call a popsicle), and enjoy some kitchen stupidity.

K, so. I love to cook. This is mainly b/c I love to eat. They tend to go together. In the last four months of living with my husband, I’ve come to really enjoy trying new recipes. Most have been pretty simple, and turned out well enough. There have been a few “meh” moments; i.e.: too much cheese in the baked potato soup, too much mozzarella in my homemade mac & cheese; too much cheese on the enchiladas. See a pattern? Good. Really, if I follow the recipe, I don’t have to worry.

For Christmas, one of Harli’s sisters- he has three, and they’re non-identical triplets- gave us a slow cooker. I was giddy. I loved using my slow-cooker when I lived with my old roommate, especially on long days. Handy especially for some very unhealthy pizza casserole. I like me some cheese, it seems.

I digress. Back to the slow-cooker. She gave us the world’s largest slow-cooker. Like, “feeds 8-10” size. If I was a Duggar, or regularly hosted friends for dinner, this would be fantastic. (I guess if I were a Duggar I’d need at least two of these suckers.) As it’s just the pair of us, using our huge freaking slow-cooker is a bit difficult. You see, for it to work “right,” it has to be 2/3 full. Simple enough, right?

Well, combine a barely 1/4 slow-cooker with my spontaneous decision to not really follow the recipe, and I got a pot of…no. The recipe called for two capsicum (read: bell pepper- I’m trying to adapt to non-American speech)- I used a bunch of leftover slices, so I maybe used one, total. It asked for uncooked chicken, tossed in flour and Mexican seasoning; I used already cooked chicken seasoned with my standard Aldi “Everyday Seasoning” grinder. One cup of frozen corn was substituted with an a full can of corn. A cup and a half of salsa became an unmeasured dump of the salsa left in the fridge. And I thought this would work.

In all honesty, it smelled great, and tasted lovely. It just wasn’t what the recipe was supposed to be, and this made me pouty. So, my loving hubby kissed me on the forehead, took me to Oporto (soooo good) for dinner, and told me to not to worry.

Well, I read way too many homemaking blogs, so I couldn’t stand the thought of not putting the slow-cooker goo to good use. Twelve tortillas and some cheese later, and we have three meals all put together and tucked away in the freezer.

A post on freezer cooking will come soon. I can tell you’re eager.

Worth mentioning: as I put together what we’re calling the “Mega Salsa Wraps,” my 30 year-old husband watched an episode of “Star Wars: the Clone Wars.” As in, the computer animated, between Episodes III and IV, show that was/is on Cartoon Central. We have a wild life.