Starting Again

Today I did something that I have not done in nearly a year…I went to the gym. The whirring of the treadmills, the smell of the chlorine from the pool, it all pulled me in and made me afraid.

When we found out we would be moving last year, we cancelled our gym membership. Although I tried to keep up with exercising as much as possible, I was not doing as well as I could have. I used our jogging stroller to go on runs around the neighborhood (until Cupcake got too heavy and it hurt my back). I tried to do workout videos here and there. I found it hard to stay consistent without the gym. It was too easy to look around my house and see the chore list staring back at me. There was always something that needed tending to. So, my workouts suffered.

And being a work-at-home-mom, working out became less enjoyable for me. Home was where my family was, but it was also my workplace. And now it was supposed to be my gym. I made a million excuses but the honest truth was I just hated working out at home. I was really unsure about whether we wanted to shell out the money for a gym membership, so I tried to make it work. My fitness suffered. I was cranky. I was getting out of shape. It was not good. Added to that was any decent gym around us was nearly double what we were paying before.

It took some convincing, but I told my sweetie that all I wanted for Valentine’s Day was a gym membership. I wanted a place to go to work out. For this mama, it also had the benefit of childcare! This meant that not only could I get my workout in, I could also shower and get ready after sans Cupcake. I was so excited when he agreed.

But this morning, I was terrified. I did not want to go. I was going to be so out of shape compared to where I was. It was a new place so I had no idea where anything was located. It was also snowing when we woke up and we live in a place not accustomed to much snow. I teach my students online, but the physical campus (located just 10 minutes away) was cancelled for the whole day due to the weather! We only have a car seat in one car, which is the better car for the snow, so my husband would have to take it to work. YAY! I would be able to excuse myself from attending the gym.

Thankfully, my husband gently reminded me how much I wanted this. So at an ungodly hour, the three of us packed into the car so I could bring him to work in the “good” car, then I drove through rush hour traffic (why do they call it that? It should be slow hour traffic). We arrived at the gym just in time for the childcare to be opening. I slowly got changed into my workout clothes, dropped Cupcake off with the providers, and was faced with actually having to workout.

The stats of the workout were not impressive, but they were better than anything I would have gotten sitting back on my couch. I pressed start and that seems like a huge accomplishment in itself. And while I had to work far harder than I used to in the past, I did it.

Have you ever been scared to start something up again that you haven’t done in awhile? Tell me about your “press start” moment in the comments below!

Love,

Lindsay

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The Liebster Award Part 2

Yippee!

The super sweet ladies at Betrothed Babies Blog nominated me for this award and I have to be really really honest. I was having the worst day. A dig down deep into your soul and reach out for grace kind of day. So thank you ladies for bringing a smile to my face!

Liebster2

The Liebster award is passed from blogger to blogger to get recognition for new or smaller blogs. (Blogs with <200 followers)  When you’re nominated for the award, you have some rules to follow:

  1.  Acknowledge the blog that nominated you and display the award
  2. Give 11 random facts about yourself
  3. Answer 11 questions the blog give you
  4. Nominate 5-11 blogs with less than 200 followers you think are deserving of the award
  5. Let the bloggers know you nominated them
  6. Give them 11 questions to answer

So, I have been nominated for this award before, but I am totally going to do it again because I love it!

 

11 Random Facts About Myself:

  1. I love peanut butter! But only if it has no/low sugar. I don’t like sweet peanut butter.
  2. My big sister and I have birthdays one day (and nine years) apart.
  3. There are seventeen years between my oldest and youngest sister. Although it’s a big gap, I love the way our family is formed and it makes me really happy that we are now all in similar stages of life.
  4. I am a terrible swimmer. I can swim, but not much beyond enough to save myself.
  5. Christmas Eve is my favorite holiday. All the excitement about Santa is running through the air. There is just a certain magic about Christmas Eve.
  6. Growing up, my best friend lived on my street. Every day we met “halfway.” We’d spend our summers walking around the block talking about who knows what. We definitely walked well over 5 miles a day.
  7. My childhood dog was a Westie named Scooter. He was the laziest dog ever, but barked like crazy at every boyfriend I ever brought home – except my husband 🙂 Scooter approved of him apparently!
  8. I bake nearly every dessert from scratch. Except Funfetti cake. I just love Pillsbury’s version, no matter the chemical soup that is that recipe. I just love theirs best.
  9. I taught elementary school for four years. Those kids were my babies and I think about them all the time. We have since moved from that state, but oh I wish I could have watched them all grow!
  10. Wizard of Oz is my favorite movie of all time. I have a Wizard of Oz themed bachelorette party!
  11. I sing all day. I love to sing. I am not the best singer, but Cupcake doesn’t know that yet, so she asks me to sing all day. It’s the best!

Questions for me to answer:

  1.  If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be? I’d eat pizza! So many different topping options which can totally make pizza work for everything from breakfast to dessert!
  2. What is your favorite childhood memory? It’s impossible to pick one favorite, but one of my favorite memories was going to see the Olympics in 1996. We went to go see track and field and during one part of it, they played the macarena on the loud speaker. It was amazing to be doing the macarena with people from all over the world! It was amazing.
  3. Describe the best vacation you’ve ever been on. The best vacation I ever went on was when Chris and I went to Puerto Rico. We got engaged during sunrise on our first morning. We spent the rest of the trip just the two of us going on some amazing adventures. It was perfect.
  4. Are you a dog or a cat person? Dog, but I own two cats!
  5. If you had to change your career, what would you pick? I don’t know! I loved being a classroom teacher, but also love being a work at home mom now. If I had to do something else, maybe I would be a children’s book author.
  6. Which famous person (living or dead) would you like to have lunch with and why? Jesus. I don’t think a why is needed.
  7. What’s your biggest pet peeve? Being late. I hate it!
  8. If you could have one super power, what would it be? To calm people down instantly.
  9. You had the worst day at work – what’s the one thing that will make you feel better? Chips and guacamole with my sweetie.
  10. If you had to lose one of your senses, which one would you pick and why? If I could maintain my sense of taste, then I would pick smell. My sense of smell is way off the charts and it’s actually really difficult as it makes me really sensitive.
  11. What’s the first thing you would do if you won a million dollars? Contact a financial advisor!

I am going to nominate the following blogs:

Ups and Bumps

Jamieson Diaries

Memoirs of a Running Mama

The Beautiful Life of Ms. Nealia Jade

 

Since I’ve been nominated for this award before, I also invite anyone who is reading to participate along with us! It’s a great way to get to know some new faces in the blogging world.

 

Here are the questions for them to answer.

  1. What was the last thing you ate?
  2. If you had to give your high school self one piece of advice, what would it be?
  3. You just won the award for being the best *blank*. What award did you win?
  4. What is your most prized material possession?
  5. Who is the best cook you know and what is the best thing they make?
  6. If you won an all expense paid vacation anywhere in the world, where would it be?
  7. Where is your happy place?
  8. Are you more of a glass half full or glass half empty person?
  9. When you wake up in the morning, what is the first thing that you do?
  10. Which season do you like best?
  11. Where do you do most of your blogging from?

Hope you all have as much fun as I did! For anyone joining in, please leave your link here so I can read your answers!

Love,

Lindsay

 

 

September Reflections

As part of my 2015 resolutions, I post my status each month to keep myself accountable for the goals I set for myself!

This month I have not blogged pretty much at all! Life has been a whirlwind. The universe gifted me with two incredible job opportunities that have left me with not a whole lot of extra time. I also went back home for a few days to visit my parents and in-laws and effectively went off the grid for awhile. It felt great. I am finally settling into a new routine and am ready to introduce a new blogging series for October!

Now, on to my goals.

1. Design 2015 budget goals with husband to reflect past spending and current saving goals.

My goal for September was to learn about Dave Ramsey’s budgeting. I read his books, his websites, his blog posts- pretty much anything I could find. My husband and I sat down with renewed energy to tackle our budget and to make some big changes. One of those I mentioned above; I started working again! I have two work at home jobs that I am absolutely loving. Once Cupcake goes down for a nap or for bed, I quickly hop on my computer and get to work. This new addition to our income line will greatly help us toward our savings goals. This was a successful month!

My goals for October are to plan out our holiday budget for family members. If I can start figuring out what we want to gift this year, we can hopefully start to DIY some gifts and look for deals on those we cannot make. Our holiday season gets compounded with our anniversary and a multitude of family birthdays (including my mom’s 60th and my sweetie’s 30th!). Setting a budget this far in advance will really help!
2. Go to the gym (or workout at home) a minimum of four days a week.

This was successful with the exception of one week where I only worked out three times. I have been running around our neighborhood a lot as the weather starts to cool down a little! It has been wonderful. I also acquired an Ergo baby carrier so I can take Cupcake on hikes!

3. Reduce my PR of a 9 min mile pace to an 8 minute mile.

I completed a 7:57 mile in April. This goal is complete!

4. Try one new recipe a week and blog about it.

This was a big NO. However, this will certainly change in October as my Elimination Diet begins and I am will have the challenge of cooking a little differently.

5. I want to continue nursing Cupcake through 2015, unless she chooses to wean earlier.

Check! We were doing so very well with sleeping through the night until she was hit with a whopper of a virus. All the kiddos (and most of the adults) in the neighborhood have been suffering from colds, coughs, and terrible sore throats. The other little ones have also been waking up throughout the night, no matter how old they are, so I cannot entirely blame Cupcake for her lack of sleep. I am sure that once she feels totally better, we will get back to normal.

I definitely cannot imagine her wanting to wean any time soon, but yesterday she went a whole six hours without nursing DURING THE DAY (with me right there with her!). She had the option and still did not nurse! So, although it’s hard to believe, she really will wean some day. Until then, we shall forge ahead!

6. Visit my grandma every week before our move. Call her every week after we move.

I had the joy of surprising my Gramma with a visit this month. It was so joyful! She has been really sad lately about a situation with a friend, so it was great to connect with her. I know she adored seeing Cupcake and Cupcake had so much fun exploring my Gramma’s room!

7. Text/call/email a different friend every day to keep communication open.

Check!

8. I will cut my monthly consumption of soda.

My goal for September was to have no more than six 8-oz servings, but the August trend continued. I just don’t really have a taste for it these days. This is a GREAT thing as I am headed into my Elimination Diet, where soda is definitely not allowed. Coffee, on the other hand, I literally have no clue how that’s going to go. Won’t you all have so much fun laughing at my misery reading about my experience.

9. Subscribe to FlyLady Emails. Complete tasks to maintain clean and decluttered home.

This month I had to completely overall my cleaning schedule. Prior to my new job opportunities, nap time was clean time. Once Cupcake fell asleep, clean time again! My house looked great. I eventually switched to “an hour a day” mode. Now, I spend an hour a day cleaning. I set up a rotation throughout the house and start in a different room each day. If I have any extra time, I move on to the next day’s room. It has been working really well, except that my laundry keeps getting piled up! I HATE having piles of laundry everywhere.

So, my goal for October is to go back to the FlyLady methods for laundry so that I can hopefully get on top of this situation!

10. Reduce time spent watching TV

So, this whole month, the only TV my hubby and I watched was one of the Republican Debates on CNN. Totally worth it.

Unfortunately, I lost the internal battle I have with Cupcake and the TV. I am really struggling there. Instead of cutting her time, it seems to be growing. Ugh. It makes me really unhappy, but I have not done much to stop it. This month I needed time to finish a work project, and *poof* on went the TV. I had to finish dinner and Cupcake wouldn’t play alone? TV. Why is TV so magical?!?!

My goal for October is spend the month researching fun and easy alternatives for me to help increase Cupcake’s stamina for independent play. I feel like if she could play better on her own, I would not feel so tempted to turn to the television. I will work at using the first few days of the month to observe how long she can play independently and work to increase it to a level where I can get a good 15 minutes for her to play independently.

11. Post progress each month on the above goals.

Check!

Homemade Granola Bars 

I think I’m a little bit obsessed. Ever since I made the commitment to start making more homemade food items, I find that I can’t stop! Everything just tastes so good. As a bonus, it is also way more affordable to be preparing food this way. I cannot afford to give Cupcake everything I would like, so this is my way.

In our family, we love granola bars. When my husband started residency just three weeks ago, we had a grand total of six different types of granola bars JUST FOR HIM. That does not count what we had for Cupcake and I. Kind of crazy. Also, kind of expensive! Even with buying most of our granola bars as Aldi’s, it was a significant part of our “snack budget.” Since I am really working to be more thrifty, I realized I could help by learning how to make my own granola bars. I had seen many recipes online that seemed quite involved. I was looking for something simple, because Mama wants to enjoy nap time by relaxing,not by running around like a crazy person!

An easy granola bar recipe is what originally led me to Andrea . Her recipe for granola bars seemed super easy, and I was excited to try. The recipe that follows is hers, with a few notes from me! Dear Andrea, if you are reading this, I might have a bit of a momming crush on you!

Ingredients

1/2 c honey

1/3 c packed brown sugar

1/4 c peanut butter or nut-butter of your choosing (I used crunchy peanut butter as recommended by Ms. Andrea)

1/4 c unsalted butter

4 c quick oats

2 c crispy rice cereal

3 t vanilla

Directions

In a large bowl, stir crispy rice cereal, quick oats together.

In a medium saucepan, combine honey, butter, peanut butter, and brown sugar. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat then bring the temperature down to low, and simmer till sugar dissolves.

*thejoyofmomming note- let it boil for a minute or so, and then simmer. Your granola bars WILL fall apart if this mixture does not heat enough because my first few tries definitely did this  I’ve heard.

Remove from heat. Pour in vanilla and stir.

Pour the hot mixture over dry ingredients. Stir until all ingredients are moistened. Press into a parchment-lined 13×9 pan.

Pack the granola bar mixture as closely and as tightly together as you possibly can into one end of the pan at about 1/2-3/4 inch thickness. Any thinner, and the bars will not hold together. *See pictures below for trick I used!*

Let cool on the counter till they reach room temperature.

Cut into bars. Wrap in plastic or store in a ziplock bag.

*You may add chocolate chips, dried fruit, nuts, coconut, etc. if desired. If adding chocolate chip, press them into the top of the bars after you’ve packed the very warm granola mixture into the pan. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a melted chocolate-swirled mess.

Here are some photos from my adventure. I did not have any parchment paper, so I used tinfoil and it worked just fine.
  Look how pretty!   Okay, here’s where I went a little crazy. As I mentioned before, I may have some people had trouble with the granola not sticking together. So, I folded my tinfoil around the granola.
  And I found the cutest 21 pound weight to pack it down (I put a clean baking pan over the tin foil first!) I’m glad this kid isn’t in school yet, because I could just imagine her sitting around the snack table. “My mommy has me stand on my granola bars before I eat them.” Thank goodness she is only 16 months old!
I prefer a harder granola bar, so we store these in the fridge, but you can store them on the counter-top as well.

Hot Cocoa Brownie in a Mug

One of my favorite features of our new place is our pantry in the kitchen. I like being able to stock up on items we need ahead of time. It brings me comfort to know we have most of the essentials on hand. Every month I go through the pantry to make sure I am not letting anything go to waste. Foods that are nearing expiration are quickly put into the line-up.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered an unopened box of Swiss Miss, set to expire in just a few short days! Now, I usually like to eat pretty cleanly and quite honestly, this does not fit the bill. I typically prefer to make my hot cocoa from scratch. We received this as a gift and Swiss Miss always reminds me of my childhood. I was so excited to use it!

Except, I had less than a week to use it. During a heat wave. In July. Not ideal hot cocoa time. So, I started wracking my brain for different ways to use it when a huge brownie craving hit. It was also late and I didn’t have the time or patience to sit around for the oven to preheat. I had made cake in a mug before, so I decided to attempt brownie in a mug. The first time I made it, I sort of just threw ingredients in the mug without any measuring and stirred until it looked right. I also ate it all without abandon and didn’t take a single picture.

So, because I know you all need them, I had to suffer through a second night of brownie in a mug to get the measurements and take pictures. The things I do for you all.


  
  
  
 Hot Cocoa Brownie in a Mug

Ingredients

1 package instant hot cocoa (1 oz.)

3 T flour

1 T canola oil or butter

2 T water

Directions

1. Mix all ingredients in a microwave-safe mug. Stir until hot cocoa powder is dissolved.

2. Microwave on high for 60 seconds. Continue cooking for 10 seconds until brownie is complete. It is ready when the edges are cooked, but the center will still be gooey.

3. Let cool for 2 minutes.

I still have quite a bit of hot cocoa to use up. Do you have any fun recipes I should try? Leave them in the comments section below!

Domesticated Momster

Homemade Hummus without Tahini 

After my husband and I really sat down to evaluate our budget, we realized that we could be doing better in terms of our spending on food.

Although I have benefitted in the past from couponing, that can become a full-time job in itself. I mostly want to find ways to cut back in terms of the types of food we purchase and prepare.

Cupcake is a tad bit obsessed with hummus.

 We go through A LOT of this stuff. I realized that making my own could be one way to try and save.

This recipe is super simple. You basically just dump all the ingredients in the food processor and press start. Voila!

I have found that the most important part is to peel the skins off the chickpeas. Some people skip this step, and the hummus will be fine- I promise. However, by peeling the skins, you get a much smoother texture. I prefer the flavor, too!

Ingredients

1 15 oz can chickpeas, reserve liquid

1 T minced garlic

2 T cumin

1/4 – 1/2t salt, depending on preference

1 T olive oil

Directions

1. Drain chickpeas. Reserve liquid.

2. Remove shells from chickpeas

3. Add chickpeas, 3 T of reserved liquid, garlic, cumin, salt and oil to food processor (or in my case, the Baby Bullet since I don’t have a grown up one haha)

4. Add more liquid as needed to reach desired consistency.

I can’t wait to try adding other spice combinations! So good and SO simple!
Disclaimer: this may or may not actually save you money because it’s so yummy you will want to eat it all. 🙂

Homemade Rolls 

I do not know what has gotten into me! I have been obsessed with homemade bread lately. You’d think that the weather outside would have been damp and chilly, but no. I just really LOVE homemade bread!

After trying out this awesome recipe for Homemade French Bread, I was really excited. It tasted amazing and was much easier than I thought. It was much more cost affordable and definitely much healthier!

The only downside was that the recipe took a bit longer than I preferred to spend when I have this cutie pie hanging around.


So I was super excited when I found out that the lovely Ms. Andrea at Pennies and Pancakes had a recipe for hamburger buns that took less than an hour from start to finish! I wish I could take credit for the delicious recipe, but she so deserves it!

Ingredients
1 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup butter
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (or just over 4 cups whole wheat flour)
2 1/2 tsp. yeast
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 beaten egg

Directions 
Warm the milk, water, and butter in the microwave. Stir until butter is melted and let cool until warm, but not hot.

Mix flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add in milk mixture and then add the egg. Your dough should be only slightly sticky. Knead for 8-10 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic.

Divide the dough into 12 balls, and place them on a large, greased baking sheet. Lightly press down on the top of each ball of dough, so that the top is more flat than rounded. They will puff up more during rising and baking. Sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired.

Cover with a dishtowel, and let rise 30-40 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Bake for 12-14 minutes, until golden brown on top. Serve as desired, and store for 3-5 days on the counter, or 4-6 months in the freezer.

Before

After!

I am telling you, this was the easiest thing to make! My father-in-law had one and proclaimed that he was officially handing over the reigns and that I was now in charge of making buns for the holidays. This is the same man who drove six hours to our house with coolers filled with food so he could prep it himself for us. He loves to cook, so to pass any of it on to me, I’d say we have a winner!

When these came out of the oven, Cupcake was napping. I split one open and may have let out a little squeal. I grabbed a bit of olive oil and sea salt and I was in HEAVEN. Anyone who is nervous about making homemade bread should definitely start here. My only regret is that I did not find this recipe sooner!