Trying New Things

Well, things feel like they’re getting back to normal around here.  The food I’m preparing and consuming is healthier fare than it has been and, I’m back into the swing of exercising.  Exercising always makes me feel better!  With all of that feeling like it is under control, of course I feel a need to stir things up and give myself something else to worry about.  Lately that thing has been my dining room.

In our house, we have a tiny kitchen.  Super tiny.  I call it my walk-in kitchen.




It looks a little bit different than that now but it’s too dirty for me to take a current pic for you.  Anyway, we don’t have an eat-in kitchen.  Well, you CAN eat in there if you feel like standing at the counter or over the sink but, it’s not exactly the most pleasant dining experience.  For me, part of eating well is enjoying the space in which I eat, too.  It is important to engage as many of my senses as possible so, the ambience of where a meal is eaten is particularly important.  Since we don’t have an eat-in kitchen, we placed a table in our family room where we can all sit for casual meals, and it has worked out fine for the last couple of years.  However, we have a dedicated dining room that is actually off the kitchen and I have been wanting to use it more instead.  The only problem was our table.  It was a hand-me-down from my parents and was a gorgeous table, just totally not our style.  Our family is not formal and this table couldn’t possibly feel more formal to me!!


I tried and tried to casual this table up but to no avail.  The room you see above used to be our family room and has a fireplace in it so, we moved the dining room in there thinking it might soften the formalness of the table a bit but, nope.  Still felt like that room in your grandmother’s house where you’re not supposed to touch anything.  Ever.  That is not what I wanted.  We LIVE here and the room absolutely must welcome that.  So began my journey to look for a “new” table, one that would truly reflect our personalities and our lifestyle.  One that would be so warm and inviting that you couldn’t help but want to sit at it, even when it’s not meal time.  Honestly, I almost gave up hope of ever finding what I was looking for.  The bar had been set rather high once I visited this blog, Posie Gets Cozy. If you scroll down in the post linked, you will see the most inviting table and will want to jump through the screen immediately and enjoy a hot cuppa and some good conversation.  Seriously, don’t tarry on her blog unless you want to get lost in post after post of crafty, beautiful goodness.  But I digress.  Her room has the exact feel that I was going for!  Yet, it seemed like it was impossible for me to find that around here.  See, where I live, there seems to be a prevalence of either formal or pine country furniture and not so much of the oak, rustic variety.  This table seemed like it was going to be my great white whale.  On Monday though, things took a serendipitous turn.

My husband had Monday off so we went downtown to do some antiquing.  The store we wanted to visit was closed for some kind of inventory update so we grudgingly headed to the store next door.  I was disappointed because I had seen something on the first store’s website that I really wanted to look at in person.  We walked in to Mary’s Antiques and immediately saw an improvement over the things I had been seeing elsewhere.  Suddenly, the search didn’t seem quite so hopeless.  We went from the front room into the second and there it was.  My table.  yes, I’m calling it MY table and my husband is totally ok with that, aren’t you honey?  🙂  So, it was an old English pub table with a really cool design on the base.  My husband played it low key.  He said the minute he saw the table, he knew I was going to want it but, we walked around the whole store anyway just to be sure.  That table was the one!!  And here it is:

Now, doesn’t that feel so much more inviting that that other one??  Let me tell you something.  Since bringing this table home on Monday, it has seen more action than our other table had in years.  We sit here for breakfast, lunch, dinner, homework, and just plain hanging out.  It fits perfectly in front of the fireplace and I couldn’t be more in love with it.  If that weren’t enough, the table and all the chairs together only cost $400.  I think that is a steal!!!

This morning, I broke out my tea infuser and sat down and enjoyed a cup of Irish breakfast tea along with a warm croissant.  Does it get any better than that in the morning?  I just don’t think so.

Finally, this pretty tablecloth has a place where it can rest and look right at home.  It looked just plain silly on my other table!!!  Now, I have to figure out the rest of the room.  It needs a rug, window treatments, and some different side pieces of furniture.  But everything is going to happen with baby steps.  Right now, I’m going to focus on the joy this new table brings.  It has ushered in a whole new sense of togetherness in our home and that is truly beautiful!!

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An Exercise – the Mental Kind. :)

Yesterday I had my bi-weekly appointment with my nutritionist and she was, as usual, very supportive of me in my time of need. You may recall from my last post that for the last couple of months I have been a bit lacking in the motivation department. I was feeling like I was doing good with the weight loss I had accomplished and perhaps I really didn’t need to try for anymore. Really though, that is my inner lazy person talking. She hates to do anything that presents too much of a challenge and she prefers to do things the easy way. So her voice got mighty loud in my ear and nearly had me convinced to quit my journey right here and now. Well, Bernadette (my nutritionist) suggested that I write myself a letter, outlining how I where I’d like to be in 8 weeks. I think I can do that. 🙂

Dear Me,

You have worked so hard to get this far and you know what a struggle it was to even get started with this journey last year. In the next 8 weeks, wouldn’t it be great to have lost 10-15 more lbs and go down another size in clothes? I know I would like that very much. In 8 weeks, I will be fully rededicated to living a healthy lifestyle. By the time 8 weeks gets here, I will recognize that I won’t always make the best choice but 80% of the time I will choose the healthy option. At the end of 8 weeks, I will be in the 150’s!! Stop messing around, Evie and DO THIS!!!

Love, Yourself

Today I did a pretty good job of staying on track. I woke up and exercised, (HUGE DEAL) ate right all day long, and didn’t give in to the temptation to buy a milkshake (which I wanted very badly). In order to help keep my mind on other things besides feeding my face 24/7, I have taken up a new hobby – sewing! This is my new friend.

Singer 4411 sewing machine

When I was younger, both my mother and grandmother attempted to teach me how to sew. I had the basics down but just couldn’t figure out how to get the machine to cooperate. Well, this machine and I are getting along just fine, thank you very much, and we are well on our way to creating some beautiful and useful things together. I have actually decided to make a quilt for my bed. This is a big project because our bed is a king size so Im practicing with something smaller, a doll-size quilt. 🙂 I figure once I get the basics down it won’t be so scary to try the big quilt and my niece will have something fun to play with, too. Check back for a picture of my completed starter quilt this week. I plan to have it finished tomorrow.

All in all, I am feeling much better about where I need to be mentally and where I want to be physically. In my heart, I have to admit that being where I am now is great but I really want to be about 20lbs lighter. The hard work just seemed very daunting. Now I am just going to focus on one pound at a time and let myself get there when I get there. Don’t you think that seems reasonable? 🙂

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Off Topic – I’m in a weird place

Have you ever felt like you should be doing something but you don’t exactly know what that something is? That is how I’m feeling right now. The last several months have been filled with so many changes – good, bad, and indifferent- and right now I just seem to be in a place where I’m assessing it all and trying to figure out what to do next. Since 2008, I had my own business as a professional photographer for local children and families but at the beginning of this year, I decided to close it. While all the people I met were wonderful and the photography aspect was something I still love to do, my passion for it was waning a bit and I found myself just plain not wanting to do it for pay anymore. You know that saying, “Find your passion and get paid to do it”? Well, that is not the case for me. So, here I am, wondering what is next. I have two boys at home and we homeschool so that is definitely a big part of my future. But I need to find something for me. It doesn’t have to be a job, I just need something for me. First world problem. I know, I know.

When my husband gave me my first digital camera several years ago, it unlocked something in me that I never knew was there. It was amazing, an awakening, and I fell in love with photography right away. That feeling of euphoria was unlike anything I’d experienced, aside from when I fell in love with my husband or gave birth to my children. 🙂 Having had a taste of that I find myself wanting to experience it again, knowing that it’s not something to be intentionally sought out. Knowing that it will find me when the time is right. The waiting part is difficult for me. I feel distracted from my weight-loss journey and, in fact, have spent the last 2 months gaining and losing the same 3 lbs. My focus is off, my mind is somewhere else, and it has been hard for me to get back on track.

Have you ever gone through a period like that? My weight loss stands at 38 lbs gone right now and I feel fantastic. My blood pressure is 110/62 and I really physically feel better than I have in a long time. It’s the emotional piece of me that is in need of rehabilitation now and I’m just not sure where to turn to find what I’m looking for. It’s frustrating, maddening, and a little bit depressing, too.

Please forgive me for this indulgent post. I know this is not why people come by here but, since this blog is about all aspects of my journey, it feels important to include these feelings as part of the official record. They are some of the steps on the path, too.

Anyway, if you got this far, thank you for sticking with it and with me. I promise that this week I will post something delicious and food related and there will be a beautiful photo to accompany it. 🙂

Hope all is well in your world…..

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Mexican Pizza and an Update

One thing that is key when you’re trying to reduce fat and calories in your diet is to really amp up the flavors you use in each meal.  It helps you feel satisfied, especially if you’re like me and are coming from a life of living to eat!  If I eat something that doesn’t fill my emotional well in addition to the physical one, it leaves me wanting more.  I saw a recipe on Pinterest that was by Trader Joe’s grocery store and it was Mexican Pizza.  Let me tell you, in the old days, Taco Bell’s Mexican Pizza was the thing I ordered every time but at 540 calories and 31 grams of fat, it just isn’t something I can afford to eat anymore.  The Trader Joe’s recipe isn’t exactly light either.  When I calculated it using My Fitness Pal’s recipe section, it ended up being worse than Taco Bell’s version!!  It was around 1200 calories and 31 grams of fat PER SERVING!!!  I didn’t even look at the sodium but it must have been off the charts.  SO I had to get creative and make this work for me.

My version is still higher in fat than I would normally eat at one sitting but, I thought of a couple of other ways to cut that, too.  Here is my version as I ate it yesterday:

This makes one serving.

2oz of 93% lean ground beef
1-2 Tbs of diced onion
1/2 tsp of garlic powder (I didn’t have any garlic)
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
pinch of kosher salt
pepper to your taste
1/4 cup of fat free refried beans (heated and thinned with a bit of water, if necessary)
1 6-inch flour tortilla
2-3 TBS of Jacks Garden Fresh Mild Salsa (use your fave)
1/4 cup Kraft Naturals Colby Jack Cheddar Blend, made with 2% milk
a little bit of chopped green onion
1 small tomato chopped
5 small black olives, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1.  Heat a small skillet over medium high heat and add meat and onions.  Cook through.  Drain fat then add back to skillet and cook for  5 more mins with all the spices.  Remove from heat.
2.  Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray and place your tortilla on it.
3.  Spread the 1/4 cup of refried beans on the tortilla.  I had thinned my beans out a little beforehand to get a spreadable consistency.
4.  Then put the meat and onion mixture on top of the beans and bake in the oven for about 10 minutes.
5.  Remove from oven and add the salsa, cheese, green onion, tomato, and olives.
6.  Put back into the oven for about 5-10 more minutes.
7.  Using a pizza cutter, slice it into 4 triangles.

My version is roughly 365 calories and 14 grams of fat.  I had to change the amount of meat and cheese as well as use a smaller tortilla to accomplish that but, please believe me when I tell you, this was very, very filling.  You could reduce the fat further by using fat-free cheese and, you could cook the meat and onions separately, then rinse the meat once it’s browned.  Rinsing chopped meat removes 50% of the fat!  If you took those steps with the FF cheese and the meat, you would save 7 grams of fat.  Not too shabby!

Now for a quick update on my weight.  I have lost 21lbs now and am feeling really good about that.  I’m wearing smaller clothes and feeling like I have more energy than I can remember having in a long time.  I try to stick to 1200 calories a day and for the most part I do pretty well.  There are days that are more of a struggle than others but overall I feel like things are still on track!
Don’t forget to follow me on My Fitness Pal and on Facebook if you don’t already!!
Thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoy the Mexican pizza recipe!!

Annette @LosingYourBelly - What a great idea for an individual pizza, looks so good.

Annette @LosingYourBelly - Well I think I will need a bigger pizza. Looks great!

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Tostadas Done Light!!

Truth be told, I don’t have the most exotic palate.  Thinking back throughout my life, I might even say that I tend to be a little picky.  However, in my quest to lose weight one thing has come clear and that is flavor is king.  I can eat something that is lower in calories and lower in fat as long as the flavor is good and that is where my idea for a light version of tostadas came in today.

This lunch was SO delicious and easy that I will absolutely eat it again!  The cast of characters for this event were:

Mission Yellow Corn Tortillas (extra thin)
1.5 oz rotisserie chicken, chopped
1 Tbs 2% Kraft Colby Jack Cheese
6 black olives, chopped in half
1 romain lettuce leaf, chopped
1/4 cup reduced sodium black beans
1 Tbs Bolthouse farms Salsa Ranch Dressing
1/2 roma tomato, chopped
1 quarter slice of lime

The other day at the store, rotisserie chickens were on sale so I bought one thinking I could use it for many different meals.  These things are so versatile and, if you leave off the skin, they are a great source of low-fat protein.  Well today seemed like a great time to try something a little more exotic than I usually do so I took 1.5 oz of breast meat and chopped it into bite-size pieces.  In the meantime, in a small skillet, I had sprayed olive oil Pam and set it to medium heat.  Once it was warm enough, in went the corn tortilla.  Now, the end result for me was a bit chewy when I was hoping for something crunchy.  If you wish to leave a note in the comments telling me what to do to get a crunchy tortilla next time, that would be great!

As the tortilla was warming in the pan, I proceeded to chop the lettuce, tomato, and black olives.  Once the tortilla seemed ready, I placed it on my plate and began layering the various toppings on there.  The bottom layer was 1 Tbs of the cheese, then came the chopped lettuce, then the chicken.  Next came the black beans, black olives, and tomatoes.  I topped it off with 1 Tbs of the Salsa Ranch dressing and a squeeze of fresh lime juice from the quartered fruit.  OH.  MY.  WORD!!!  It was so bright and fresh tasting, I loved it!!!

And the best part of this is, it was only 340 calories and 9 grams of fat.  The only thing I can think of that would have made this over the top flavor-wise would be if I had fresh cilantro on hand to chop and layer on as well.  Cilantro is one of my favorite flavors!!  Combine that with the brightness of lime and it is heavenly.
Just because I’m trying to lose weight doesn’t mean I have to eat bland foods that are the texture of cardboard.  This meal (which I ended by eating an apple) was totally satisfying for my taste buds which goes a long way to making me feel satiated emotionally.  That in and of itself felt like a huge accomplishment.  Later this week, I’m going to make a lighter version of one of my favorite recipes on here, Sausage, Beans, and Rice.  So be sure to check back for that, you will NOT want to miss it!!

Kim - Sounds very yummy!!!

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