Monthly Archives: December 2012

My 2012 Goals

This past year, I didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions… until February. Then I decided to write down a few goals. Not “resolutions” per se, just some general lifestyle goals to work on throughout the year. I shared my list of goals with two people, and then started working on them. Here is how I did with them:
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1. Adopt healthier eating habits.
Overall, I think I did pretty great at this one. I eat a lot more whole foods than ever. Less processed food. More fruit and veggies. Less junk. More organic things. Not all organic, but some. I still eat tortilla chips, and I eat a few other unhealthy things at times, but I think I rocked the healthy eating this year.
2. Read 20 books.
This one was just going to be “read more”, but I knew I needed a number on it or I wouldn’t do very well. If I counted right, I read 13 books, and I’m in the middle of 3 more. Maybe if I would read only one at a time, I would finish them all? Here are some of my favorites that I finished:
I cannot tell you what this book did to me. It was the first book in years that made me get out my highlighter and pencil for notes in the margins. It turned me upside down in all the best ways.
Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality. I like when a book makes me think, and also when I can understand all of it. I mean, I like to think I’m pretty smart, but some books take a few read-throughs and time for everything to soak in. (I’m looking at you, C.S. Lewis.) This book made me think a lot about the things I believe, and what I believe about them.
Funny. Really funny. I laughed out loud many times. I love when a book does that.
A true story by a friend of a friend. She tells the story of her best friend’s battle with cancer, and of walking through that experience with her. Make sure you have a box of tissues nearby when you read it.  
I want Tina Fey to be my new bff. I found myself wanting to read the entire book to someone, just so we could laugh at it together. Hilarious. 
Another laugh-out-loud book. Stories of David’s life, entertaining to the very end.
I’m sensing a pattern in my book choices here… I love Mindy Kaling, and this book did not disappoint. Funny, smart, and when reading it, I heard everything in Mindy’s voice in my head. Mindy and Tina, can we all be bffs?
3. Exercise consistently.
Meh. Okay, over the spring and summer I rocked this one, because I was training for a bike trip, and going on a bike trip. In July, I held still and recovered. In August, I bought a weighted hula hoop and started using that regularly. Lately I’ve been slacking off again. But I just used my hula hoop a couple of times again, so I’m probably going to be fit as can be in a few weeks.
4. Train for/go on bike trip.
I did this. Oh, did I ever do this. I trained. And then I tripped. The trip with my nephew was supposed to be just over 1,000 miles, from Topeka, Indiana to Sioux Lookout, Ontario, Canada. Because of some bike trouble one day, and getting a ride, I ended up biking a total of 994 miles in two weeks. (My nephew biked a little further to make up for the lost miles.) But I’m calling that close enough to 1,000 for me.
5. Watch fewer movies/TV shows.
This one was touch and go. Right now I’m watching nearly as many as I was at the beginning of the year. Over the summer it was a lot less. And I cancelled my Netflix for now, so that’s helping.
6. Give away 100 things I do not need.
Simplify. We all have more things than we really need, right? Way more. I could have had a garage sale, but this way just felt a lot better. And I crushed this one: I kept track so I would know when I reached 100… the final count written down was 136. I gave some more things away later that I didn’t write down, so I don’t know exactly how many items it was. And it felt great to give things away, and have less in my house! I think I might do this one again in 2013.
7. Attend church regularly.
It seemed like I was gone a lot this year on vacations, weekend trips, biking, etc. But I attended church as much as possible while I was home.
8. Save $5,000.
I did not save $5,000. I went on a bike trip, which meant buying lots of gear, supplies, food, some lodging, taking three weeks off of work… I repeat, I did not save $5,000. But I did save $2,000. I’m okay with that number, considering the year I had.
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There you have it. My goals for the past year, and my wins and losses. Overall I’m pretty happy with what I accomplished here. And once I make a list for 2013, you’ll be the first to know. I also made a list of other things I wanted to do eventually, but they weren’t a “this year” thing, or a change in lifestyle thing. They were places I wanted to see, and little things I wanted to do. But the sharing of those will have to come later.

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Home Made Laundry Soap

It used to be that when I heard about those super crafty and thrifty types who were making their own things like laundry soap, body wash, toothpaste… and so on and so forth, that I would be like:

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I mean, seriously. Just buy the soap, people. How is that so difficult? But these days? I’m sort of more the “Just pay the rent, people.” type. And it’s turning out to be fun to make my own things and save money in the process!

The first thing I tried was laundry soap. I got a recipe from a friend who got it from a friend who got it… okay you get it. And then I got another friends recipe to compare, and cross referenced them and sort of used both. This is adjusted a little from the original recipe, but I can’t claim ownership of any of it. I don’t know who came up with it in the beginning, but I’m giving them full credit here: Laundry Soap Recipe Maker, thank you for your contribution to my cleanliness.

I gathered the ingredients and took them to my mom’s house, where we spent… I don’t know, an hour? Less? It was a long time ago, okay? making this soap. We split this batch, and it lasted us for months! Our clothes were clean and smelled nice, and that’s all you can really ask of your laundry soap, isn’t it?

Here is what you will need for the soap:

1 bar FelsNaptha soap (found in the laundry soap section at Kroger)
2 cups Washing Soda (also found in the laundry section)
2 cups Borax

1 five gallon bucket with a lid
1 long spoon for stirring

Heat water in a sauce pan, about a quart or so. Use a cheese grater or your KitchenAid grater or a knife or a hammer or whatever pleases you, to shred the bar of FelsNaptha. Add that to the hot water. Stir occasionally. Do not boil, but get it hot enough to melt the soap. You can now pour this in your bucket. Dissolve the washing soda and borax in hot water and add it to the soapy bucket water. Now fill the rest of the bucket with hot water and stir it up good & proper. Once this is all mixed together, you want to let it set for 24 hours before using it. But don’t ignore it- stir it up every couple of hours to make sure everything is setting up properly. Actually, I don’t know why you stir it. You just do. And keep the lid on the bucket, for Pete’s sake. You don’t want the water evaporating. But loosely- it doesn’t have to be tight.

When we made it, we did a smaller batch in a 3 gallon bucket. You can adjust the water amounts if you want a thicker soap. Or a thinner soap. It’s up to you, man. And if you need more washing soda or borax, by all means, add more! If the soap is getting too thick after you’ve used it for a while, add some hot water and stir it up.

We use around 1/4 to 1/2 cup per load. Use more or less as needed. But you really don’t need more than that. All told, this 5 gallon batch of soap should only cost you a few dollars and last you a long, long time. Unless you have dozens of kids who spend their days rolling around in a barnyard. Then it might only last you half of a long, long time.

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My 100 Things, Part 1

At the beginning of 2011 I was kind of in a rut. I was okay with life, but I was just sort of existing. I love being at home too much to just go out and DO all the time. I like to just be. And I certainly was not living live to the fullest. On January 1, I learned about Jesse Brisendine’s 1 Year 1000 Things Challenge. This fascinated me and I began following his challenges. About two weeks into the new year I had an idea: what if I would do the challenge, too, but on a very small scale? I decided to try to do at least one thing every month that I had never done before. But… what to do? As soon as I grabbed a pen and paper, my mind went completely blank. Then my brother came to see me, and with his help I soon had a nice sized list to get started on. I made plans for Thing Number One: Eat Sushi.

But just as quickly, plans changed. I suddenly needed to go to Mexico to stay with my sister’s two youngest children for a week. This was going to take me into February. Had my adventure derailed before it even began? No! The Go With the Flow plan was set in motion. I would just add new things to my list, incorporating my trip into the challenge!

So without further ado, here is January:

1. Book a flight to go on a trip the same day. I’m a planner. I plan things. Ahead of time. I like to know what’s going on. So this was definitely a new thing. It was kind of fun! The beginning of my New Things adventure.
2. Drive in a foreign country. I had been to Mexico 6 or so times before this, but I had never driven a car there. I don’t speaka Espanish and I wasn’t very familiar with the roads. This time, I didn’t have a choice. I was nervous, but I made it all the way out of town and back to the home! 

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February:

3. Get snowed into Mexico. And don’t panic. This wasn’t really something I could claim as having accomplished it myself. Except for the not panicking part. There was a snow storm at home that resulted in my flight out being cancelled. I kind of needed to get back to work, as I had been gone for a week by this time. But there was nothing that could be done, so I relaxed and enjoyed the extra day with the family. And you know what? Everyone survived and it was just fine. More than fine, it was wonderful.
4. Eat Sushi. It was… okay. Not sure what all the fuss is. I liked my friend’s fried rice much better. But I made a whole meal of my sushi, and it made me happy that I had branched out and tried something new.

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Somewhere along the way, as my list of things accomplished started getting longer, I decided to go big and try to do 100 new things in 2011. I probably won’t share them all here, but you’ll see quite a few of them. (Whoever “you” are.)

p.s. I used to use Blogger and am new to WordPress. I think it hates me. Why can’t I make my photos bigger? Why can’t I find anything? Where did my life go so wrong? Anyway, I’m still learning here, so please be gentle.

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Tofu Stir Fry

This may not be “stir fry” in the strictest sense of the word… words… (Actually, it’s not. I looked it up. In the dictionary.) But it’s sort of like stir fry, and I’m calling it that because I’m not sure what else to call it. Sauteed Tofu and Veggies Over Rice? That’s not a name, it’s just what it is. Anyway, here’s the second of my May food posts.

Saute organic butternut squash, cucumbers, and mushrooms in olive oil.

Add firm tofu, cubed.
Add salt, onion powder, and turmeric. (Who knew turmeric was so healthy? Okay, lots of people probably knew that.)
Let it cook for a few minutes, turning occasionally.

Add some chicken broth and simmer a few minutes longer.

Serve over brown rice that you started cooking before you even chopped this stuff for frying. Unless it’s instant brown rice. Then you could have waited until the veggies were simmering.

A delicious burst of flavors… And healthy to boot. This doesn’t even sound that good to me. I’m not a tofu & veggies kind of girl. Until about 2 1/2 years ago, I went out of my way to avoid anything that sounded healthy. Junk! Give me all the junk! I didn’t mind if other people ate healthy food, I just didn’t want to have anything to do with it as a matter of principle. I’m not proud of it, okay? But now, I have discovered how tasty food can be even if it’s not full of junk!

Try this soon. You won’t be sorry!

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Portabella Mushroom Pizza

Last May, I started writing about the things I was cooking. I thought it would be a good way to keep track of what I eat and how I prepare it in case I want to repeat it later. Then I got busy planning and training for a 2 week, 1000 mile bike trip and stopped putting thought into my food. And I certainly wasn’t writing about it. Why am I saying all this? Because now I’m going to copy all 3 of my food posts from months ago to here, and you can’t stop me. (Please excuse the slightly blurred photos. I would try to upload better ones, but I just don’t care.)

From May 4, 2012:

In an effort to (hopefully) not become allergic to more things, I have been eating as organically as possible. I’m also trying to eat as many whole foods as I can, staying away from processed food.

The last time I went grocery shopping, I found organic Portabella mushrooms. Hmm… I should be able to do something with these. I stood there in the store and Googled “Portabella mushroom recipes.” Then I bought them. I had heard of making little personal pizzas with the mushroom as the crust, so I decided to try that.

Something else I never thought I would find myself Googling: “How to gill portabella mushrooms.” (This was after I had removed the gills, and was wondering if there was a better way to do it.)

The cast of characters:

1 portabella mushroom
Vegenaise (egg free, dairy free)
Honey Mustard Vinaigrette (paprika free)
Italian Seasoning (no garlic, black pepper, or anything else I can’t have)
Minced Onion
Cooked Chicken
Organic Baby Spinach
Vegan Rella Cheddar Style “cheese” (dairy free)

I lightly sprayed my pan with cooking spray, then removed the mushroom gills and laid it on the pan, ready for the toppings.
Spread a layer of Vegenaise on first, then a layer of the Honey Mustard. (I’m allergic to tomatoes, hence no tomato based sauces.)
Sprinkle on Italian Seasoning and minced onion. Next time I may put actual onions on instead, but this time I didn’t feel like cutting one up, so went with minced.
Cover with cooked chicken and chopped up spinach.
I attempted to shred the vegan cheese, but it’s pretty soft, and turned out to be not that shreddable. I added the few shreds I managed to get, then used a knife to just cut off a few more shreds and topped the pizza with the cheese.
After I had all the toppings on, I drizzled a little more of the honey mustard over everything.

Then I baked it at 350 for 12 minutes. Because 12 minutes seemed appropriate.

Put it on my favorite plate.

And… it was delicious! Seriously. I wanted another one right away. If only I had still been hungry… But I went for a bike ride instead.

Portabella pizza: YES. I’ll be making it again.

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P.S. I did make it again. And I still like it!

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The Journey of a Thousand Miles…

The Journey of a Thousand Miles...

…ends with big, relieved smiles.

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December 20, 2012 · 2:06 am