Fitness Friday -- July 30

I did well on my food intake this week, but not so much on the workout. I just get too lazy on the weekends, and with a busy work schedule, I only worked out twice all week. 
But I actually kept on track (all those fruits and veggies must be working!) and still saw a decrease on the scale. 

I've been eating a new breakfast this week that was suggested in Shape magazine: A toasted English muffin with peanut butter and apple slices. This is delicious and combines all sorts of yummy flavors and textures. J is in love, too :)

Here are the deets (with only the two number correct b/c I don't wanna share my real weight just yet) :
Starting weight: 107.6 (July 9)
Last week: 105.4
This morning: 104.0

1.4 pounds of weight loss over the past week. 
I wonder how well I could do if I were super focused for an entire week?


Wordy Wednesday

Tuesday was a bad day. Not only did I not get home until almost two hours later than usual, it was the anniversary of a good friend's death.

These immediately put a smile on my face, though:

The best part is, they weren't for anything in particular. Over the weekend, I experienced some frustration with J that I feel like all of the housework falls on my shoulders. Yes, I know he works a hard job and all, but my work is stressful too sometimes, and I feel like I work from the time I wake up to pack his lunch in the morning until 8 or so when we're done with dinner - and then the kitchen is still a mess! I was feeling very unappreciated and finally got it out. 

So not only did he bring home these pretties (a mix of my favorites), he also had peeled veggies to go with the roast I had put in the Crock Pot. 

And here's what sums it all up:


Oven fries

I'm all about being healthy and cheap. And this recipe fits the bill for both :)

There are two large potato farm corporations where we live, and one of them is J's account. They send him a bag every year. These are the potatoes used to make chips, so they must be processed soon or they go bad. So after some searching, I found a fabulous way to freeze them as fries — easy, yummy, and good on the wallet, since we really like fries (and our bellies show it!)

I think I found this recipe on, but I couldn't find it after I searched just now. But I adapted it a bit ... here goes. 

What you'll need:
- 6 to 8 potatoes (about three pounds -- but I just did enough to fill the pan!)
- 2 T. oil
- Seasoning

Make it:
- Scrub the potatoes and slice into pretty fries. I used an old French Fry cutter my mom has. No way I can get them all the same size - or have that amount of patience!
- Coat with the oil
- Sprinkle with desired seasoning. I just used seasoning salt
- Bake in a 400-degree oven for 30 minutes. Allow to cool, and then place pans in freezer for another one to two hours. Bag. 
- When ready to eat, pop the frozen fries into oil! You can also bake these, but I'm going to be honest and say that since I don't do baked fries, I don't know what temp or how long. 

These are seriously good. From our big 'ole bag of taters, I did eight batches of these and got about six gallon bags. Considering that all I have invested in it is maybe two cups of oil and seasoning I get pretty cheap, I'd say it's well worth the little bit of time!


Menu Plan Monday: July 25-31

It's a busy week! I've got a crazy work schedule and we have a couple of engagements, so there won't be much cooking :)

Sunday: Family BBQ
Monday: Leftovers (mostly this - it will be our third time eating this yummy dish!)
Tuesday: Roast cooked in the Crock-Pot, potatoes/carrots and sweet corn
Wednesday: Tostadas. But I'll use ground beef instead of the chicken. We had these about a month ago and they are amazing!
Thursday: Leftover roast
Friday: More leftovers or frozen pizza
Saturday: Surprise birthday party! I'll take a dessert or some cucumber salad :)

For more meal planning ideas, go to I'm an Organizing Junkie!


Fitness Friday

It was an overall good week! 
I was a slacker when it came to exercise over the weekend, and ate a tad too much on Sunday at a family party. However, I really got on board during the week by watching portions and exercising. No gym this week, but we worked out at home three nights and also went for a run on Wednesday — we ran about a mile nonstop, then a combo run/walk on the way back. It's nice having a workout partner as my support system :)
I definitely see a difference in my body shape over the past two weeks.

Here are the deets (only the last two numbers are my real weight)
Starting weight: 107.6
Last week: 106.6
This morning: 105.4

That's 1.2 pounds of weight loss! Hopefully I'll keep it up and be at my ideal weight in just over two months!


A bit spotty ...

One of my co-workers left for a two-week vacation Wednesday.
Since I'm his backup, I get to cover for him and do my job for the next two weeks. Lovely. That meant on Wednesday, I did about three times my normal workload. 
Between feeling super frazzled at work and trying to keep the house clean (I swear my kitchen can never stay organized) I feel like I'm being pulled in a million directions and may be a bit spotty on the blog for the next couple of weeks. 
I will definitely be back tomorrow with a fitness update. Other than a family party over the weekend, I think I've been really good and am excited to see the results. 
Happy Thursday :)


What a mess!

When we moved back in November (a week before Thanksgiving, when I also got sick) some things didn't necessarily get put in their place and totally organized. The laundry room was a big catch-all area where things got put on the shelves in a hurry and it's become a room where we put things we don't want out in the open, especially overflow for the kitchen. 
Well, I got sick of it on Friday so did an overhaul. 
Here's the before:

And the after:

I just now realized I should have also taken pictures of the floor, but oh well. I know it's still kinda blah, but it's a laundry/storage room. And as much as I'd love to have baskets for the shelves, I'm going to do without them right now! 

I'm most proud of the fact that I got rid of TWO TRASH BAGS of plastic shopping bags. Um, maybe I need to buy some reusable bags? Oh, and after J surveyed the awesome "after" laundry room, we agreed to buy some brackets to fasten the broom, mop, stool, etc. to the wall, and find a way to hang the ironing board, too. Woohoo!


Can-do attitude

I briefly mentioned in this week's menu plan that I'll be canning tomato juice with my mom tomorrow. I'm keeping my fingers crossed I can get 20 or so quarts done and make this the only time I do juice this year! I only use it in chili or other dishes (we don't like to drink this juice) so I just need enough to last through the winter :)
In addition to that, I've got about 12 pints of green beans from earlier in the year, some sweet dill pickles (my mom's recipe is the best!) and I hope to do some salsa. I'll have updates. 
ALSO, J got potatoes from a local potato farm last week and I've been working to make those into frozen French Fries. I'll have a post on that soon, too :)

Menu Plan Monday: July 18-24

Sunday: Family party - we took watermelon!
Monday: Mexican chicken and rice. This will be my first time trying the recipe, but it sounds easy and yummy and I have a lot to get done!
Tuesday: Fill the grill! I'll be canning tomato juice with my mom all day so I'll have J grill steaks, burgers, hot dogs and potatoes and we'll have meals for a few days :)
Wednesday: Hamburgers and fries
Thursday: Leftovers
Friday: Homemade pizza
Saturday: Leftovers

For more meal planning tips and ideas, go to I'm an organizing junkie!


Back on the fitness train

Last week I mentioned that I gained a few pounds over the Fourth of July holiday and was feeling kinda disgusting - so I pledged to start taking care of my body again! I weighed in last Friday after a few days of being healthier and figured I'd use that as a starting weight. 
In the past eight days, I have been to the gym three times, during which I've steadily gone further and faster on the treadmill. I've also worked out twice at home with these videos:

Wow ... they are both amazing! I've definitely noticed my breathing getting better and that I'm getting more tone and a lot stronger. 

Now on to the deets. I really don't feel comfortable disclosing my actual weight on here, but I'm a visual person and like to see how the actual numbers go down - not just that I've lost 4.7 pounds. So I'm going to change the front numbers! 

We'll say I started this at 106.8 ... and this morning I was 105.8! Exactly one pound lost and I know a bunch of muscle gained - woohoo!


content :)

It’s so easy to live your life trying to catch up with the Jones’.
I find it so sad to see how people just max themselves out in terms of their paychecks and credit in order to have the newest or best --- typically just to impress those around them. 
I won’t deny that I’ve done that before — for years I spent all of my paycheck and saved none, going out to eat, buying clothes and shoes for my already-stuffed closet.
About a year ago, I got a huge wake-up call. The bad economy has definitely impacted my industry, and most employees at my office are working 32 hours a week instead of 40. While I’m grateful to still have a job, it’s tough to have that 20 percent cut in my paycheck. And it was even harder when J and I began looking for houses and wanted to put something down, even if it was just the closing costs. J also had a pay cut, as he works on commission and lost a large account. 
So we stepped back and re-evaluated our spending. For the first time, we set a budget. In order to stick with the grocery part of it, I began clipping coupons and watching for sales. 
What works best for us, so we both feel like we have “our” money, is to have individual accounts and a joint account, where we both transfer enough money to pay our bills for the month. So in order to maximize my savings, I began transferring a set amount of every paycheck to my savings account --- sometimes, leaving me only $50 or so to spend for the next two weeks.
But you know what? I am happier now than I have been in several years. I’ve found that living on less really means more. It makes me see the value of a dollar and really appreciate everything. Although I still love to dine out, I cringe a bit when a dinner out costs as much as a week of groceries. 
While on our camping excursion recently, J and I talked a lot about money. We still don’t have a lot banked, but if we don’t have the money, we don’t buy it. We have a mortgage and one vehicle payment — both which we pay extra on every month. We also have one loan for our lawnmower — it’s interest-free for 12 months, so we pay extra on it every month and plan pay off the remaining balance with part of our tax returns next spring. 
You see all kinds of money management as you grow up. I remember in high school being frustrated that my friends wore name brands all the time and I didn’t. But I now see how lucky I was to have everything paid upfront, and that my parents were able to buy me a car, pay for the insurance and pay the tuition I didn’t have scholarships to cover.  
I know that in 20 or so years, I’d love to be debt free and able to pay with cash for everything. I want to be able to help my children when it comes to big purchases or their college education. 
I may not drive a brand-new vehicle or have the latest style or model of everything, but I know that everything I have I own — and that’s priceless to me. 


Zucchini bread

Last week, my aunt and uncle were out of town so my mom took care of their garden. She came home with a bunch of zucchini - something we've never planted - and shared some with me. 
I decided to make some zucchini bread with mine ... the only problem was, I've never made it and had no recipe. Luckily, a co-worker shared her favorite, which turned out to be super delish!
J was a bit apprehensive about zucchini bread as he'd never had it, but the smell got to him and he loved it! In fact, I woke up from a nap to him waving a slice in my face saying "Michelle, you have to try this, it's really good."

Anyhow, here's the recipe:

What you'll need:
- 3.25 cups all-purpose flour
- 1.5 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 3 cups sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 1/3 cup water
- 2 cups zucchini, grated
- 1 tsp. lemon juice
- 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

How to make it:
- Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, nutmeg, baking soda, cinnamon and sugar. In a separate bowl, combine the oil, eggs, water, zucchini and lemon juice. Mix wet ingredients into dry, add nuts and fold in.
- Bake in two standard loaf pans, sprayed with nonstick spray, for 1 hour, or five to six mini loaf pans for about 45 minutes. 

I made six small pans so I can more easily share my yummies :

J cut into the loaf before I snapped a picture!

** My mom tried this and said she thought it was spicy. I liked it, but if you don't like spice, the nutmeg can be omitted :)

Menu Plan Monday: July 11-17

Wow, I'm actually getting this done on Monday - that's a first for awhile :)

Sunday: Leftover chicken and rice casserole, fried corn and rolls
Monday: Spaghetti, garlic bread, salad
Tuesday: Barbecue sandwiches, French Fries
Wednesday: Cheesy ham and pasta casserole (new recipe, see below), squash
Thursday: Leftovers
Friday: Homemade pizza (I'm thinking BBQ chicken)
Saturday: Leftovers/TBA

For more meal planning ideas and recipes, go to I'm an organizing junkie!

What you'll need:
1 lb. whole wheat penne pasta
2 C extra sharp cheddar cheese
1 1/2 C diced ham
8oz. mushrooms, sliced
4 T white wheat flour
3 C milk (divided)
1/4 tsp. pepper

Make it:
Begin by boiling the pasta according to package directions.
Then, mix together 1 C milk and flour in a large measuring cup.
Meanwhile, saute the mushrooms in a large skillet with a little olive oil, if necessary.
When mushrooms are cooked, remove from the pan and toss with diced ham.
In the same skillet, pour the milk mixture into the pan.
Stir constantly, adding additional milk to reach desired thickness (I ended up adding ~1C milk to the mixture) while warming the mixture so that it thickens. Simmer about 3 minutes.
Add in the ham and mushroom mix, and simmer until ham warms.
Then, add in 3/4 of the shredded cheese.
Spread the pasta into a 9x13 glass baking dish.
Pour the cheesy sauce over the pasta.
Stir to coat. Then, sprinkle with remaining cheese.
Stick the dish into a warm oven... about 300 degrees, for 10 minutes, until the cheese on the top melts.


This & That

Tonight, I finally get to see this:

I don't think excited even begins to describe how I feel. I've heard from several people that this is the best film of the saga so far, and I can't wait! 

I have to work tomorrow. Boo. But on the upside, it's supposed to be a beautiful, sunny day and we've been invited to both a hot tub and poker party. Whoot whoot!

My garden is really producing cucumbers! I've been eating some variation of cucumber salad pretty much every day, and my mom canned four quarts of pickles for me on Thursday. On Sunday, I plan to go to her house and help out/relearn so I can do it myself. Expect pictures :)

We've got tomatoes too, and I've been eating them every day. Yummy. 

I stepped on the scale this morning and was OK with the results. I'm about where I was before the Fourth hit. I've been going to the gym the past two days and running the treadmill, plus really making an effort to think about it before I put food in my mouth. There is a 5K on Aug. 7 that I'm considering participating in, but I need to really hit the pavement/treadmill in the next couple of weeks before the registration is due to see if I think I can do it and not royally embarrass myself. 


Wordless Wednesday

When you are a camera whore, you know you soaked up every minute of your three-day weekend when you only have ONE picture of the entire weekend.

And be glad I spared you all my belly pudge by cropping it :)


It's about that time

I'm about to start 30 days of hell again.

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Jillian. 

On the love side: she whips my butt into shape and her workouts are only 20 minutes.
The hate? I get so SORE! 

I've been working to shed off another eight or so pounds for about two months, with no luck. Then along came eat-a-palooza 2010 (also known as the Fourth of July weekend) in which I may or may not have gained a few pounds ... so it's time to whip it back into shape and see if I can salvage anything ... and maybe get down under the 10-pound mark I've been aiming for. I've found it's much easier to break down my weight loss goals by increments of 5 or 10, as I feel much more satisfied that way. 

So I'm thinking that I'll resurrect Fitness Friday and detail what I did that week and what my weight loss is looking like. Hopefully I'll see great results :)

This week's menu plan!

Is it seriously Tuesday? 
The Fourth of July weekend went by entirely too fast. We were on the go the entire weekend, but I think I only snapped one picture! Although Monday we did have some downtime and I was able to hang some decor - but more on that later.
Although it's a day late (maybe I should just start Menu Plan Tuesday) here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday: Party at our neighbor's house
Monday: Tostadas! I bought some tostada shells super cheap and we piled on refried beans, seasoned meat, lettuce, tomatoes straight out of the garden and cheese - YUM! I also used some leftover Mexican rice as a side.
Tuesday: Pizza buffet fundraiser at a local restaurant
Wednesday: Chicken and Rice Casserole, salads
Thursday: Pulled pork barbecue sandwiches, fries
Friday: Salmon patties, fried potatoes, sliced tomatoes
Saturday: Leftovers


What a week!

This week feels like it's both drug and flown by!
J was on vacay this week. I don't have all the time available that he does, so I didn't take the entire week off, but I did use a couple days to spend with him and we went camping then floating the Current River :) I didn't get a lot of pics on my digi, but here's one of us in the river where we camped. 

The weather forecast was showing a potential of showers and cooler weather (I know mid-80s sounds nice, but it isn't when you're in a tube on the river) but thankfully the weather was perfect! We camped by ourselves on Tuesday night and then some friends and their little darlings met up with us to float on Wednesday. 
Since we didn't get home until 10 p.m. Wednesday night, I was EXHAUSTED at work Thursday and left around lunchtime. However, I had an interview later in the evening so it was all good in the hood :) Also, one of my mom's friends had a garage sale she let us preview and I got a bunch of steals - I totally need to have kids soon! But until then, I have plenty of friends with kids to spoil :)

Our house is an absolute mess, so I plan to clean clean clean once I get off work today. Saturday my uncle is having his annual July 3 party and then Sunday we're having lunch at a small-town picnic (fried chicken, roast beef, ham, dressing and all the fixings - oh yes!) and then chilling, and I plan to do more of the same and maybe some crafty around-the-house projects on Monday.