Monday, January 30, 2012

Clean Eating {No Sugar!} Creamy Tomato Soup

I’ve shared before how expensive good-quality meat is, and how due to that fact we eat a lot less meat than we used to.  I am always on the lookout for meatless or low-meat meals, and this one is sure to please! 

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Best of all, it uses pantry staples AND it’s cheap! Love that! (Am I the only one whose eyes glaze over when I read a recipe with 17 ingredients, including 4 spices you’ve never heard of?!)

My husband and I both love this soup – I’ve been making it almost weekly this past month, especially since I was able to freeze so many Roma tomatoes from our garden this year. Mmmmmm!!!

A word of warning, though: if you are used to Campbell’s Tomato soup (I used to love that stuff!), this will definitely take getting used to!  Campbell’s is super sugary and this recipe is completely on the other end of the spectrum.  But I promise that after your first few bites (tastes? slurps?) you will be hooked. :)


Creamy Tomato Soup
Adapted from Fast and Easy by Suzanne Somers

2 T butter
1/2 C chopped onions
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 C chicken stock
1 C whole milk (can also use 1/4 C cream and 3/4 C milk for thicker soup)
Salt, basil, and crushed red pepper to taste (it will definitely need salt)
Mozzarella cheese (optional)

Melt butter in a 3-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan.  Add onions and sauté for about 2 minutes (or until softened).

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Add tomatoes, chicken stock, and milk/cream to onions. 

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Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes.  (I add my spices after simmering, but you can also add them individually to each bowl if you prefer to customize.)  Pour into a blender or food processor (or use an immersion blender!) and blend until smooth. 

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Pour into soup bowls and garnish with shredded mozzarella cheese, if desired. 

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This is especially delicious with French Bread Baguettes!  Mmmmm!!



Linked to these parties:
Tasty Tuesday @ Beauty and Bedlam
Tasty Tuesdays @ 33 Shades of Green

Thursday, January 26, 2012

YHM: Week 3 {I Will Not Quit!}

Something really exciting happened yesterday. 

I pulled my jeans off the drying rack – those babies were as crispy as could be, since I refuse to put them in the dryer for fear of them getting even tighter. 

And I put them on. 

And zipped. 

They always zip (thank God), so that’s not the miraculous part. 

The miraculous thing was that these extra-crispy, newly-washed jeans, which would usually require Olympic-level lunges to break them in, just……


It was awesome!  (Feel free to laugh at the mental image of me doing lunges to fit into my crispy jeans.  lol)

I still have muffin top – heck I have a whole BAKERY of rolls going on down there in my belly area. 

But it’s progress, people.  And I’ll take it.  :)

My actual weight loss has been slooooooooow.  On Friday I had dropped 2.6 pounds, but then a certain Event happened that makes me gain 3-4 pounds on average so when the Event is over I will be back to weighing myself like normal.  I refuse to weigh myself right now because the water bloat is killer and I refuse to see numbers on the scale that aren’t really true to what’s going on right now and have that messing with my head.  So the fact that no lunges were required to wear the crispy-jeans, especially this week, is even more exciting. 

Because normally I would be throwing on a pair of leggings right now and calling it a day. :)

So I’m just plugging along……watching portions….limiting treats…..working out every single day that I can (which has averaged to be about 6 days a week for the last 3 weeks). 

I took my measurements in week 2 so I can see progress in a month or so.  I read a GREAT post yesterday about NO MORE EXCUSES.  This girl also wrote about how over a 2-month period she hardly lost any weight but she still dropped from a size 10 to a size 8 because she was exercising and things were still toning up.  That was super encouraging to read! 

I’m in this to win this, baby!


P.S. My bloggy friend Sarah has a degree in nutritional science and is also a health coach and a trained wellness coach (I hope I got that right, Sarah!). She blogs at Growing on Gettysburg and she wrote a post talking about some of the things she has learned and taught over the years.  There is a great line in her post that she recommends putting on your fridge:  “If you’re not hungry then what you need isn’t in here.”  LOVE IT!  I totally put it on my fridge.  She said she would love to help anyone else who needs a little direction on the weight loss/healthy eating journey and you can reach her at sgh131{at}yahoo{dot}com.  :)

Monday, January 23, 2012

NSM {Week 3}: I MET MY GOAL!

Yup, it’s true!  My goal for our No-Spend Month, besides not using my debit card at all, was to contribute $200 all on my own toward paying off a certain debt.  I am happy to say that as of right now, I have earned:


chickpeas 017  chickpeas 018  chickpeas 019

Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaay! :)

The crazy thing is, when I gave myself a goal for $200, I was expecting to teach one extra piano lesson and also have a Wildtree tasting party for someone.  None of those things ended up happening, yet God was still gracious enough to let me earn the money….and the month is not over yet! :)

I have prayed many times this month that God would provide extra ways for me to earn money to pay off debt.  The Facebook resale groups that I mentioned 2 weeks ago have been such a blessing….I keep finding stuff to sell and post and praise God, people keep buying it!  lol

As I mentioned in my review post for The Money Saving Mom’s Budget, having a goal has been invaluable.  When I didn’t get the money for the lessons or party like I originally thought I would (I was expecting to bring in between $100-$120 from those events), I was forced to reevaluate and get creative with selling what I could. 

The crazy thing is that the more I purge our house, the more I find that I can get rid of!  Our house is like a Mary Poppins bag!  lol

Anyway, I just wanted to encourage you to think outside the box and keep pressing on if you’re working at chipping away debt.  And most importantly, don’t forget to PRAY!  I really believe that living debt-free is a big deal to God and that He will bless you in those efforts. 

You can do it!


P.S. I do have to admit here that I did use my debit card on Wednesday to buy a salad at Wendy’s.  Luke had an evaluation for his feeding issues that was an hour and a half away and in my nervousness about the meeting I totally forgot to pack a lunch for myself.  We left the house at 9:20 and didn’t get home til almost 3 – and I was starving.  So yes, the debit card did get used once!  Our printer ink was completely out so we had to buy an almost $30 cartridge for it – otherwise I would have had extra cash.  I am hoping to have $6 left over this week to put back in the account to make up for it! 

P.P.S.  If you ever have a situation where you need to eat fast food, remember that Wendy’s supports the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption!  Their Baja salad is really yummy and you can order it with a baked potato instead of chili so you don’t have to eat fake meat aka FEET.  lol!   

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Three Random Things to Tell You

Okay actually four. 

1.  A while ago when I posted my Crockpot Salsa Chicken recipe I also shared a recipe for homemade tortillas.  These tortillas are so, so good –and I had wondered if I could freeze them to use at a later time.  I just wanted to share that I have since tried freezing them two ways: first, I made all the balls and froze them that way and then pulled them out of the freezer, thawed them, rolled them out and cooked them when I needed them.  They turned out fine but it was a lot of extra work. 


Now I make a big batch, cook them all, then wrap the extras in plastic wrap, then foil, then put in a freezer bag.  Thaw before you need them and they come out great!  Still chewy and everything.  I love this because now I only need to make a mess of rolling them out and getting out the griddle once.  Just wanted to pass that along. 

2.  We made it to January 19th without any serious snow.  We now have about 8-10 inches.  I still can’t believe we made it to mid-January in Connecticut without snow.  It’s unreal!  I feel like I got a taste of a Southern winter this year and I’m not gonna lie….I’m kinda jealous of what it must be like down there every year! It was so nice to have such a mild winter.  But the snow is pretty, I will admit – so I’m trying to be content that it’s here now and I really have absolutely no choice but to live with it.  lol

3.  I’m still pressing on in the weight loss and exercise department!  I will post an update next week.  If you’re working hard at this, too, KEEP GOING!  You can totally do it!  :)

4.  My son Luke had a big eval this week for his feeding and sensory issues.  The reason I didn’t post at all this week was because we learned that he is going to need more therapies than we originally thought.  It has been a really hard and emotional week for both of us as we’ve processed this info.  I will share more at a later time but for now we could both totally use prayer for wisdom for us and the specialists who will be working with him in the future. 

Thanks all!  I hope you are enjoying your Saturday – whatever it may look like outside your window.  :)

Monday, January 16, 2012

NSM Week 2: Our Weekly Household Budget

Before I get into the details of my shopping trips, I am super happy to say that this week I earned $45 by selling $20 worth of Luke’s old clothes, an oven hood we bought for our last house and didn’t install before we moved, a DVD, some coffee mugs, and some Christmas items on the Facebook resale group I mentioned last time.

That means that so far this month I’ve brought in a total of $174, which means I only need $26 to reach my goal of $200 to put toward debt this month!  So close!! :)


So I mentioned last week that I thought it would be interesting to write down in detail how much I spend a week on our household needs.  I wanted to do this for 4 reasons:

1.  To remind myself in years to come what food and household items cost in 2012 (I’m sure I will be shocked at how “cheap” it was!)

2.  To show you what a family of 3 in Connecticut who eats mostly clean/whole foods spends their grocery money on

3.  To actually somewhat dispel the myth that it’s not all that expensive to eat well.  I COMPLETELY DISAGREE WITH THAT STATEMENT.  Our family could survive on much, much less per week if I shopped solely what was on sale and cheapest.  But the expense is worth it to me (remember when I said, You pay now or you pay later, but either way, you pay?”).  Sometimes it kills me to pay this much for food every week ($12 on 2.5 pounds of beef, anyone?!), but I feel so strongly about eating well that it is worth it to me.  

4.  To see if there were any ways I could improve when I saw it all written out – and I definitely did learn a lesson.  At this point I had been making it a goal to use coupons on any name-brand item I bought – and overall, I did well on that front.  But I’m going to try harder to really get the best deal on those non-couponable items (like baby carrots, for instance).  That might mean some more trips to Wal-Mart are in my future (ick – I realllly don’t like that place!) but I think it would be financially beneficial right now.

I used a couple of letters to designate certain things I wanted to remember:

S = the item was on sale
C = I used a coupon
D = I used a Dollar Doubler coupon
WL = I bought this specifically to aid in my weight loss (not a normal purchase for me)
* = I bought this specifically for Luke to help fill in the nutritional gaps in his diet; not a normal purchase for me if he was eating normally


Without further ado, this is where the money went this week:

Monday, CVS:

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Whole milk for Chris, $3.49 S (plus 1 ECB back)


Tuesday, Stop & Shop:

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Hood sour cream: free plus overage C/D
Horizon DHA organic whole milk: $4.09*
Stonyfield organic skim: $2.89 S/C
Laughing Cow wedges: 2 for $4.08 S/C/D/WL
Land o’ Lakes butter {Honestly, I got tired of melting butter in the microwave!}: $3.79
Whipped cream: $1.99*
2% American cheese: $3.25 S

Brown lunch bags {for homemade popcorn!}: $2
Napkins: $1.89 S
Latex gloves: $1.50 S

Flatbreads and Teddy Grahams {treats}: 4 for $5  S/C/D
Spaghetti: $1 S

Organic chicken broth: $1
Preservative-free ham: $5.78 C/D
Veggie fed, hormone/antibiotic-free ground beef: about 2.5 pounds for $12.38 {This is why we don’t eat a lot of beef! We are currently all out of our pastured beef so this will have to last us about 5 meals} S
Veggie fed, hormone/antibiotic-free ground turkey: 1 lb for $3.49 S
Wild-caught haddock: about 1 lb for $5.78 S

Strawberries: $2.99 S*
Onions: $2.49
Bananas: $1.13
Organic potatoes: $5.99
Organic romaine: $2.99 S
{Plus 5 reusable bag credits}

Total: $75.48


Wednesday, Wal-Mart:

tomato soup and sale 010

Lipton Green Tea: $2.16 WL
Lemons: $2.50 WL
Tape Measure: $1.47 WL

Feta cheese {feta is like water in this house – we need it for survival! lol}: $.67 C
Lance WW PB crackers: 2 for $4*
All-natural bread: $2.50

Diapers (Luke moved to size 6 and we just can’t afford Pampers anymore!): $5.97
Shampoo (I have super-thin hair and this really helps!): $5.97
Pillow : $2.50

{Story about the pillow:  my husband has hated his pillow for a while and it frequently gives him neck pain.  Last week he said, “Honey, do you think in February we could buy a new pillow for me?”  Ummmmm….I got the poor man a pillow this month.  lol}

Total: $28.37 

Friday, Shop-Rite:

groceries 001

Emerald peanuts (for homemade trail-mix): 2 for $1.48 S/C
Granola bars: 2 for $4 S/C
Scotties tissues: 5 for $3.40 S/C
Lysol wipes: $.99 S/C
V-8 Fusion: 2 for $4 S/C*
Black beans: 4 for $1.92 S
Salsa {for Crockpot Salsa Chicken!}: 4 for $4.36 S/C
Cabot cheddar cheese: 2 for $3.98 S
Turkey Hill ice cream {for guests on Saturday}: $2.99 S

{Plus 3 reusable bag credits}

Total: $27.03

On Friday I bought pastured eggs from our Pastor’s family ($4) and Saturday I bought some more milk since my husband was out and we were having guests and I wanted some available for their kiddos.  It came to $2.69 – and I had to pay with a dollar bill and spare change I found around the house.  Awesome. Not my first choice but you better believe I was not whipping out that debit card!


So that, my friends, is how you spend $141.06 in food and household items for one week. (My budget for all things food and household related is $140.  I stretched it by using spare change to buy the milk this week.}


Depressing, right?! I see a few areas I can improve on, so that’s encouraging, at least. 

So those of you trying to stick to cash – only: did you stick to the plan?  Did you pull out your debit or credit card?  Let me know! We’re halfway through the month – we can do this! :)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Giveaway Winner!

Well kids, I think it’s safe to say that my review and giveaway post was the most highly viewed and commented post on This Blessed Life EVER.  That is what happens when Crystal Paine mentions your blog on her Facebook page!  My FB friends already know how I literally felt weak in the knees after seeing her reference my blog and my review – and my Google Analytics site basically blew up after that!  haha

Enough about me, let’s talk about YOU!

The lucky winner is:


random number

Sue, I have sent an e-mail to your inbox – please message me back with your address so I can pass it on to Crystal!  She has very generously offered to mail the winner the book herself. 

Be back tomorrow with my no-spend update! :)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

YHM Progress, Week One: The Honest Truth

I am sitting here and seriously dreading the words that my hands are currently typing.  I worked SO hard last week – I worked out 5 days on my elliptical, plus did some light weight lifting each of those 5 days.  I ate much smaller portions than I had been, got back on the clean eating bandwagon (that had derailed a little over the holidays), stopped eating all treats and leftover Christmas candy, and….

I lost .2 pounds.  Yup, that’s right.  POINT TWO.  For real, I could cry. 

Let me give you a little insight into how my week went.  Let’s just pretend, for the sake of argument, that my starting weight was 1 pound (because so help me but I am just not brave enough to post my real weight on the internet yet). 

Tuesday – 1 pound
Wednesday – 2 pounds (????)
Thursday – still 2 pounds
Friday – .4 pounds
Saturday - 1 pound
Sunday – .8 pounds
Monday – .8 pounds
Tuesday – .8 pounds


You want to know the crazy thing?  The two days I didn’t exercise at night were Thursday and Saturday.  Not only that, but Saturday I also went out to eat at Olive Garden!  (I ate only until I was satisfied and ate healthier choices, but I thought for sure I would see it in the scale in the morning.)  And those are the only two days I showed a loss! I don’t understand!!

I’ve always known I have a really sluggish metabolism, and clearly this week is evidence of that. Who in the world starts dieting and exercising and loses TWO-TENTHS of a pound?!  I did some research online today and saw a few tips that are supposed to help: like interval training, lifting higher-pound weights, drinking green tea and taking fish oil supplements before working out.  I’m going to implement some of those this week.

Does anyone have any insight for me?? Clean eating is my thing – but exercising and weight loss are definitely NOT my thing.  I need help, people!

Sorry for the downer post – I just needed to vent.  Some of you had mentioned that you were also trying to get your eating and exercising under control.  How are you all doing?  Specifically Kathy, Becky, Tina, and Sarah!  Let me know girls!  E-mail or comment!

Monday, January 9, 2012

No-Spend Month Check-In {Week One}

Just thought I’d pop on and give you my weekly update about how our No-Spend Month has been going! 

First of all, I am happy to say that NO plastic was used this week!  YAY!
I did use every last dime of my grocery budget, though.  hahaha

Also, on the positive side, so far I have earned:

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to put towards debt this month!

Which only leaves me with:

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to reach my personal goal of adding $200 toward our loan payment this month!  Sweet!

I reached that number by getting paid $80 for music lessons, plus I sold $49 worth of items from my house on a local resale group I’m a part of on Facebook. 

{This group, by the way, is a GREAT idea that I cannot take any credit for…but I want to pass on the idea to you!  It’s a group of local shoppers/sellers who list items for sale in a group on Facebook by creating an album.  People can see the items and the prices and then set up a time to meet each other by messaging the seller.  It’s a little safer than Craigslist because you see real names and the person can potentially get deleted from the group if they repeatedly don’t show up to meet and stuff like that.  I always meet in a neutral location, just to be on the safe side!}


I did get a Vera Bradley diaper bag (that I am in looooove with) for $15 via one of those groups (using Christmas money – remember, I allowed myself that in “the rules” haha!).

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We also were able to go out to Olive Garden on a date on Saturday night, thanks to my parents watching Luke and $50 in gift cards from my in-laws for Christmas.  This is why January is a good month for us to do this challenge…it’s not as hard to stay sane this month like it might be in February!  :)  I think summer is also a good option since you can grill out, have picnics, go to the park, the beach, etc. all for free. 

There’s something about knowing you CAN’T spend any money that somehow makes it all the more tempting!  lol

Throughout this upcoming week I’ll be taking pictures of what I spend our money on so you can get a glimpse of how our weekly budget works.   

How about all of YOU? I know several of you said you were trying the challenge – how’s it working out for you??

Thursday, January 5, 2012

How Crystal Paine’s Book is Changing My Life {Review and Giveaway}

{Edit: This giveaway now closed!}

I’m really and truly not exaggerating with that title.

I was given the opportunity to review Crystal Paine’s new book, The Money Saving Mom’s Budget, set to release on January 10th. Crystal, aka “Money Saving Mom,” writes a hugely popular blog by the same title. I’ve been following her since 2007, and this woman and her excellent advice has literally saved me thousands of dollars over the past several years. If you’ve never visited her site before, I can’t encourage you enough to go visit it. Like right now. Go ahead, I’ll be here when you get back. ;)


I can’t really describe it other than to say that when I read her book, something clicked. It was as if all the stuff I’d been hearing for years about how to truly get ahead financially finally aligned in my head - I finally “got it.”

To be perfectly blunt, I didn’t have high expectations when I read this book. I’ve read tons of blogs and several books about personal finance, and a lot of them say the same things: cut back on cable (uhh, we don’t own a tv), cut back on expensive cell phone usage (I use a Target Tracfone), don’t have a car payment (we’ve always driven used cars we paid cash for; our current ones are 21 and 11 years old, respectively), and on and on and on. Most of these books left me depressed, not encouraged.

But Crystal’s book? Simple, and to the point. It’s full of encouragement from a woman who’s BEEN there. (Chapter 9 shares how some months she and her husband had to survive on less than $650 – total. This is a woman who understands what it is to live on less, you guys!)

The number one point I’ve taken away from her book is this:

“I’ve found that the less I shop, the less I spend.” (141)

Ding ding ding! Light bulb!

Here was my problem:

I was taking out cash every week to buy household and grocery items. But inevitably, by the end of the week, I was still whipping out my debit card at the last store I shopped at, and here’s why: I have a bad tendency to go out to a store just to pass the time. I’m not talking about clothing or jewelry stores – I’m talking about boring old stores like CVS, Stop & Shop, or Target. It’s been cold here for a few months now (as in, too cold to go to a playground or park or spend days outside together), so most days I plan a shopping trip to get us out of the house and keep Luke and I from going stir-crazy. I honestly don’t mind being at home that much by myself, but sometimes the walls of this house feel a little too small for just me and my toddler – know what I mean?! lol My husband works a lot of long hours and sometimes the days just draaaaaaaaaag on and on. So one day I’ll go to the grocery store, the next day Target, etc.

Honestly, I really had good intentions. I wasn’t buying myself new wardrobes or treating myself to Starbucks – actually quite the opposite. I would pop into Target with $20 left in my wallet to buy diapers – and then I’d see wipes on sale….or a cleaning product on sale….or a food item I could get at a great price by combining a sale and a coupon….and before I knew it, I was putting $40 on a debit card in addition to my weekly grocery money because everyone knows that buying rock-bottom prices is how you truly save money and stay ahead and…

Yeah. This was continuing week after week after week. Call it “financial death by good intentions.” hahaha

Anyway, I read that line in her book and it changed everything for me. Immediately, I gave myself a challenge. Not only was I not going to use the debit card AT ALL anymore (except for gas – there is no way I’m leaving my 2-year-old alone in the car at the gas station!), I was also going to deliberately stay out of stores that I didn’t really need to go in. I was ALSO going to cut back our grocery budget by $20.

Well, I am happy to say that it has been a success so far! For the last four weeks, I have added an additional $80 toward paying off debt, not to mention all the money I’ve been saving by not using that little green card.

And you know what? It feels so good. :)

Reading her book and talking about it with my husband was also what prompted our No-Spend Month.

Specifically, these quotes:

“Goals give meaning to your efforts…Goals give you accountability…If you don't have written goals, it’s easy to spend money like water…Goals give you momentum…when you start working toward your goals, your whole outlook on how you spend your money changes. You feel a sense of satisfaction as you make progress.” (8, 10, 13-14)

So instead of saying, “We hope we’ll pay off debt soon,” and feeling like there’s never enough money to go around, now we’re saying, “This month we have a goal of putting $500 toward that loan” - and feeling super optimistic.

It’s a total shift in thinking – we’ve moved from hoping and wishing to concrete action.

I could literally go on and on and on about this fabulous book….I could share all the pages I highlighted and tell you how I read it in less than a day and a half because I couldn’t put it down….

But I really want you to read it for yourself.

Because I am posting a review for her, Crystal and her team are going to give me a finished copy of the book (we all got drafts to review). I’m giving away that final copy to one of you! All you have to do is leave a comment on this post – and make sure that if you don’t have a blog, you leave me an e-mail address so I can reach you. (I will mail you the book as soon as Crystal and her team mail it to me, so please understand there may be several weeks’ turnaround.)

Can I tell you my most favorite part about this book? ALL proceeds go to support Compassion International. She is not keeping one dime for herself. Isn’t that fabulous?! So even if you don’t win this giveaway, $11 is a an incredible deal considering you’re getting a fabulous resource and such a wonderful organization is benefiting.

It’s truly a win-win situation! :)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2012: The Year of the Hot Mom

Did you just laugh at me through your computer screen?  It’s okay if you did – I promise. :)

Girls, I don’t know about all of you but I am seriously just SICK AND TIRED of lugging around this extra weight!  I am twenty-two pounds heavier than my wedding day five and a half years ago.  TWENTY TWO! Now I don’t ever expect to be that skinny again – I was working out for an hour at the gym five days a week, plus on a strict diet.  I was in the absolute best shape of my life, but that was for a specific time in my life and I don’t expect to come close to that again. 

{August 4, 2006- the night before I got married – with two of my bridesmaids.}

But I will tell you that my lowest weight after Luke was born was only ten pounds higher than that.  I was Somersizing and eating super clean.  I wasn’t really toned, but I could fit into a lot more of my clothes than I can now. 

{July 2010 - about 10-12 pounds higher than my wedding weight.  This is the goal I’m going for now.}

Do you want to know something insane?  Like seriously crazy? I am fifteen pounds heavier than I was in May.  Gross, right?  That means that I have gained fifteen pounds in a little less than eight months.  And what is the reason for this?  Apathy.  I just haven’t been proactive about taking care of myself.  I know for sure that I gained weight about the time that Luke’s food issues started coming to the surface (I am a total stress eater for sure), and then I definitely gained weight over the holidays (because to be honest, I just love food! lol). 

I can’t describe it, really, but all I know is that I have had enough.  I have two weddings to be a part of this June, and I want to look good in those pictures.  I deserve it, my husband definitely deserves it, and even Luke deserves it – he deserves a healthy mom….certainly not one who is gaining fifteen pounds a year. 

It also helps that all my pants are getting too tight and I’m way too cheap to go out and buy new ones.  lol


I have declared 2012 The Year of the Hot Mom.  So far my husband knows about this, as does my friend Lindsay.  And now all of you do, too.  Ha!

I have a specific goal to lose one pound a week for the next 18 weeks.  That puts me right at April 24th – with time to adjust a bridesmaid dress, if needed, for the wedding I am in on June 16th. 

I bought an elliptical off of Craigslist right before Christmas.  I used it tonight!!  (It’s the first full day we’ve been back home since traveling over New Year’s).  There is no earthly way I am going to get myself motivated to exercise unless it involves me watching tv or a movie.  In other words, if I actually have to think about the exercise I’m doing, it’s just not going to happen.  I used to work out on the elliptical machine at the gym last year, and I loved it.  I know some people hate them, but I actually enjoy them.  I can’t believe I just said that about exercising.  It feels like I just swore.  haha

I bought a digital scale a few months ago that shows pounds in .2 increments, which also really helps.  Before all I had was a crummy dial one from a flea market and it was super tricky to actually tell if you’d lost weight or not because it always came unbalanced.  I’ll be weighing myself everyday.

As far as eating goes, so far I’m going to just limit my portions and eat as clean as possible.  I know that sugar and carbs are weight triggers for me, so I’ll be trying to stay away from them.  My problem usually isn’t what I’m eating, since I eat very healthy foods overall, but how much of it.  My friend Lindsay lost about 40 pounds through portion control and exercise several years ago, and she is the queen of self-control when it comes to eating.  I try to picture her face when I want to eat.  lol!


Some other phrases I’ve heard that are helpful and play in my head:

“You are not a human garbage disposal.”

“Better to go to waste than to waist.”

“Are you really hungry or are you just bored?”

“Let yourself get to a 3 or 4 on the hunger scale (out of 10) before you eat something.  You don’t always need to be at a level 1.”

“Aim to only feel 80% full all of the time – never stuffed.”

“Is this really worth it?”


I just wanted you all to know that I am totally willing to help you be accountable if you need help along the way!  You could start your own “Hot Mom” program. (Or hot wife, hot girlfriend, hot nurse, etc. haha)

I am so ready to DO this.

It’s my year.

I’m coming back, baby! 

I’ll check back in next week! :)

January 2012: Our No-Spend Month {The How and Why}

I think the lack of any sort of snow on the ground so far in Connecticut is really helping with my normal post-Christmas blues.  This January, I feel more hopeful and invigorated than I ever have before.  SUCH a nice change from how I usually feel this month. :)


Chris and I have some big financial goals this year.  One of them is to pay off a small-business loan he took out from his uncle in 2008 to start his home internet business (that unfortunately didn’t pan out for him as a full-time career but has since been acquired by another company and gives him side jobs working on the site).  The second goal is to pay off our credit card that we got in 2008 to help us live on so we could put money in the bank to save up while we purchased our house (don’t ask, it’s a long story!).  We haven’t used that card since 2009 and we are still, unfortunately, paying on it. 

The small-business loan, if we did not make extra payments, would be paid off in March 2013.  Our goal is to knock it out by June 1, 2012.  We can totally do that.  This will give us an extra $200 a month to work with.

A little more audacious is the credit card payment – but by paying off the business loan early, we can then make triple payments on the credit card.  Our big crazy goal is to pay THAT off by the end of the year – December 31, 2012, to be exact.  That will give us about $100 extra each month. 

And lucky, lucky us, when we pay of those two small loans, we will still have multiple school loans to keep paying on, plus our mortgage.  YAY!


Anyway, we are going into this thing with gusto!  Some of you may read the blog Small Notebook.  I have been inspired several times by Rachel’s “No Spend Months” – she has typically done them in July. 

We’re instituting one in our house for the month of January, and here’s what it’s going to look like:

- Continue to pay all bills (I hope that was obvious, but just in case…)

- Continue to give tithes (these are gifts to missionaries and our local church that we give out of our love for God; they are a non-negotiable “expense” in our house)

- Continue to take out weekly cash for groceries/household needs (like shampoo, diapers, etc.)

- Use of Christmas money and/or gift cards is allowed during this time, since it’s not coming out of our bank account (and this is also keeping me sane)

- There is absolutely no use of our bank account other than bills, gas, and the usual weekly cash deduction for groceries/household


In addition to what we’re NOT spending, my husband is putting an extra $100 for the next five months toward the business loan payment, and my goal for this month of January is to add an extra $200 on top of that – so that our payment for January can be $500 instead of the usual $200.  Last month we were able to put $600 toward this loan, so that really helped, too.

I am going to be adding this extra $200 via teaching my private piano lessons, my Wildtree business, and selling items via a local resale group I’m part of on Facebook.  I made $29 on that group a few days before New Year’s, so I only need $171 to meet my goal! 

I’m super excited to be rid of this business loan….the end is so close! I’ll be back with updates throughout the month to let you know how it’s going so far. 

All I have to say is, thank God I got two Starbucks cards for Christmas. ;)


What about you?  Have you ever done a no-spend month?  Is it something you would ever consider?