Friday, January 29, 2010

Lesser Evil


Last year I really tried to clean up my cosmetics and health and beauty products and change to more environmentally friendly and healthier products. I gave up my Cover Girl Rose Blush (a 7 hazard rating)for Kiss My Face 3Way Color, Ruby Red (a 3 hazard rating). I looked up all the products I and Grace use on the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com/ and started trying to pair down those chemical hazards to a much lower level, usually at least by half.

Still not replaced is my Cover Girl face powder (a 7 hazard), my Maybelline waterproof mascara (a 5 hazard), and my Nexxus Versastyler (a 6 hazard). Otherwise, we are doing pretty good. I'm still using up Suave Kids 2 in One shampoo and conditioner (a 5 hazard) for Grace but when that is gone, we are going to find something else. I thought about just combining the shampoo and conditioner I use into the same bottle, but combined they add up to a 5 hazard anyway. So am I accomplishing anything? I'm not sure.

She likes the smell, but I figured out if I add some drops of essential oil to some healthier fragrance free stuff (even just water for detangling and combing her morning hair down) she's happy. Strawberry and orange is what I have.

So here I thought I was doing good by replacing my Oil of Olay Sensitive Skin Day Lotion with SPF 15 to Jason Red Elements Daily Lotion with SPF 15 (half the amount for the same price) and finally looked it up today. The Oil of Olay is full of ingredients I can't pronounce and chemicals but comes in overall at a 4 hazard and the Jason's half full of "natural" plants and elements comes in at a 6 hazard.

Geez, sometimes you just can't win for losing.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Artistic License



Monday I worked from home and picked up Grace when school was out. She watched some Sponge Bob upstairs on the big screen while I worked for a couple more hours in my office. Finally she got bored and came in to do some artwork.

The picture above is what she presented to me from her easel. It's our family. I'm the big one on the left, Daddy is in the middle and Grace is on the right.

Now, I think you can see why I was a little more than curious about the DADDY picture. I pointed to the long hangy down thing in the middle and said, "What's that Grace?"

She said, "It's a tie. Boys wear ties. And girls wear dresses"

Well, yes they do. Mystery solved.

She went back into the living room for another round of Sponge Bob and then a few minutes later she came back in and said "Mama, did you think that tie was Daddy's potty box?".

Well, yes, yes I did.

Then we had the talk about how we wouldn't WANT to draw people's potty boxes on our artwork, right? Right.

Grace said, "Well I didn't really know HOW to draw a tie."

It looks fine, I said.



I let Bryon approve this post just in case he had a problem with it. He said, hey whatever it is, it's long, so why not.

Indeed.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Shower of Shame

I love my shower. What I don't love is cleaning it.

I had a party of Sunday School ladies coming over last Sunday so as every good hostess should, I cleaned the house, and finally my shower. Cleaning the shower is difficult, and awkward and messy so I generally avoid it until I can actually SEE the gunk building up with my extremely nearsighted eyes.

Mercifully, most of the time I can't really see that well at all since wearing glasses in the shower is obviously problematic.

So Saturday, I spent a good part of the day cleaning, straightening and organizing pre party guests. Now, was one of those very nice Sunday School ladies going to be LOOKING in my shower? Not likely. And, if they did, well they would have gotten what they deserved right? But of course they wouldn't look.

Still, it was more than a little disturbing to go in there WITH my glasses and my full 20-20ish vision and take a good hands and knees look at things.

It was not a pretty sight.

I finally scraped off the last fins and tails and heads of the rubberized tropical no skid fish that had molded and mildewed onto the floor and by the time I was finished I had that sucker sparkling.

Of course, having a clean shower floor and NO rubberized tropical no skid fish glued to the floor creates it's own hazard. At least when it's dirty there is a little more traction.

I've seen some disgusting showers and mine is nowhere CLOSE to what is possible. I haven't actually seen her shower, but one of my friends has a death pact with her girlfriend that if she is to die suddenly and unexpectedly, the friend is to go IMMEDIATELY to her house and CLEAN HER SHOWER, so no one will ever discover her secret.

I think that is a great idea.

Who would like to be my death pact, shower cleaning friend? Perhaps we should just get a call list in place in the event of ALL of our deaths so someone could immediately take over and destroy the evidence of our showers of shame.

I have to say that once it IS clean. It's heavenly.

Grace sometimes gets to take showers back there but usually takes baths in her bathroom. Bryon has tried to get me to let her take showers with me, the whole kill two birds with one stone argument. But seriously, the only places I am ever ALONE anymore since becoming a parent are in my CAR when I'm WORKING or in my SHOWER and I'm not giving either one of them up.

For that 10 minutes, I have a little piece of heavenly peace and quiet. I don't think that is too much to ask.

Now, if only someone would clean it for me. The car too.

Life would be perfect.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Banana Pudding Surprise


As I was cleaning out the fridge I came across three boxes of Banana Creme Sugar Free, Fat Free Instant pudding mix. First of all, if it has that many adjectives in the name, it's probably not good for you and in full disclosure, I later realized it had expired in Oct. 2008.

The good news is, it tasted wonderful :) I had Grandpa stop and get some bananas to top it with and we put some almond nut granola on top of it instead of vanilla wafers for some crunch and it was a wonderful Sunday night dessert.

The practical side of me was proud for using up some stuff I had on hand that was actually not that many WW points, but the "trying to eat healthier" side of me started wondering exactly what is IN Banana Creme Sugar Free, Fat Free Instant pudding mix?

When I told Bryon it was sugar free he asked what made it sweet... aspartame? Dang! Didn't even look at it. Of COURSE it was aspartame, along with virtually every other artificial or man made ingredient available. The only ACTUAL food that was in it was the fat free milk and bananas I put into it along with nonfat milk and salt. Seriously, here are the ingredients on the back of the box as they are listed:

modified food starch, maltodextrin, tetrasodium pyrphospate and disodium phospate (for thickening), contains less than 2% of nonfat milk, natural and artificial flavor, salt, calcium sulfate, xanthan gum, mono and diglycerides (prevent foaming), aspartame and acesufame potassium (sweeteners), tetrapotassium pyrophosphate, dipotassium phosophate, yellow 5, yellow 6, artificial color, phenyletonurics: containes phenylaline.

Nice.

So then I Googled banana pudding recipes, which obviously I should have done FIRST and found this WW one:

Banana Pudding


POINTS® Value: 4
Servings: 12
Preparation Time: 10 min
Cooking Time: 15 min
Level of Difficulty: Moderate

Vanilla wafers make a quick and crunchy crust for this creamy, layered treat.


Ingredients
1/3 cup(s) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup(s) sugar
1/4 tsp table salt
2 large egg yolk(s), lightly beaten
2 1/2 cup(s) 1% low-fat milk
3 Tbsp butter, divided
1 tsp vanilla extract
36 item(s) reduced-fat vanilla wafer(s)
3 large banana(s), sliced
2 cup(s) fat-free whipped topping, thawed
Instructions

* Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife.

* Combine flour, sugar and salt in a 3-quart saucepan. Combine egg yolks and milk; stir with a whisk. Gradually add egg mixture to dry ingredients, stirring well. Add 2 tablespoons butter. Cook over medium heat until thick and bubbly (about 10 minutes), stirring constantly. Remove from heat; add remaining 1 tablespoon butter and vanilla, stirring until butter melts.

* Place 12 vanilla wafers in bottom of an 8-inch square baking dish. Arrange one-third of banana over cookies. Spoon one-third of pudding mixture over banana; repeat procedure with remaining cookies, banana and pudding, ending with pudding. Spoon whipped topping over pudding and spread evenly. Cover and chill until ready to serve. Yield: 12 servings (serving size: about 3⁄4 cup).

I had every ingredient already at hand except for the wafers and whipped cream which I didn't want anyway.

Another day, another lesson in eating.

Sometimes you just need to do it Old School my friend.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Play Guitar


"Forget all about that macho shit and learn how to play guitar."
John Cougar Mellencamp



Grace and I have had two guitar lessons now. The first one was last week and we had homework to practice. We sat down at the couch and tried to practice the three notes we just learned. E, F, and G. All three on the first string. We learned whole notes, half notes and quarter notes and had a whole page of music to practice.

Grace was excited to practice for all of about three minutes. Then she declared it "boring" and asked if she could be done.

"NO, you can not be done. We are going to practice the guitar together." I said in my most authoritarian MOM voice. Well, it pretty much only went downhill from there. She was slumping and wiggling around barely even trying.

I told on her to Daddy when he came out and of course she straightened up for a little while. We had the talk with her that she was going to do this because we wanted her to. (Which of course only ever backfires).

The whole time I just kept having flashbacks of my Dad trying to teach me to balance my checkbook at the kitchen table when I was 16. That pretty much ended in tears for me and don't tell him but I never balanced it once from that day forward.

I just assume the bank is right unless I see a glaring error. I don't care about pennies. Sorry Dad, I was an English Major remember.

I also remember having a throw down, blubbery crying FIT to play the trumpet at school. Remember when the Band Representatives used to come to school and get us all whipped up into a frenzy to play an instrument? Well I, being the geek I was, chose the trumpet. No one ever get's popular or cool playing the trumpet my friend.

I wanted a NEW trumpet. A nice shiny one. Which of course was about $500 or $600.

After much drama they agreed to let me play the trumpet, but I had to start on a used trumpet. A friend of theirs had a used trumpet from their child's formative years that was gathering dust in the attic, so I became a trumpet player.

The first blow on that thing smelled like musty moldy dust. It never got any better. It was disgusting. You also had to clean and drain your own spit out of the thing on a regular basis.

I was never going to get a date playing the trumpet.

I quit after a few weeks.

Smart parents.

Fortunately, we only have $67 invested in this musical adventure. So all I really have to lose is my sanity.

Blog Book





I got my blog book last week and it turned out AWESOME! It was $100 but I would have spent more than that making it into a scrapbook and I wouldn't have had any of the stories to go with it because I HATE journaling in a scrapbook. Go figure.

I'm pretty excited about it. It's 238 pages long with photos and everything and is hardbound with really good high quality pages.

Definitely money well spent!

Here is the link if you'd like to make one of your own

http://blog2print.sharedbook.com/blogworld/printmyblog/index.html

Toothless Wonder




It's out! I came home from work Friday and Grace met me at the back door sporting a new smile. Bryon had gotten home before me and Grace insisted the tooth come OUT! It was practically horizontal anyway and barely hanging on so he tried to get some dental floss around it for the extraction but it kept slipping off. Then he tried just grabbing it but it was too slippery so finally he grabbed it with a cloth napkin for traction and plucked it out. Grace didn't even realize it was out and was all grumpy because of another failed attempt then Bryon showed her the tooth and she was excited!

She talked all night about the Tooth Fairy and that she was coming tonight!

We got home late from a night out at the Old Barn Dance in Fordland and she had her little tooth in a special box we got at her baby shower. She really wanted to keep her tooth and I told her the Tooth Fairy would probably let her if she really wanted too. Especially since Mama wanted to keep it too.

After she was asleep I went upstairs and found a card I'd made with some glitter on it and wrote a little note inside that said, "Grace, you are growing up fast, this little tooth is your first but it won't be your last. Love Tooth Fairy". I sprinkled some fairy dust (glitter) around and left her a 50 cent piece and a bunch of quarters tied up in a pink ribbon.

She woke up this morning about 7:30 and came in and said her tooth was still there and that the Tooth Fairy had NOT come! I asked her if she was sure and she said yes, and that the Tooth Fairy must have gotten "distracted" and not come.

I went in there with her and pointed out the card and quarters and she was much more excited. As messy as her bookcase is it's no wonder she didn't notice the gift.

Now she's working on the second tooth. She already can't keep her tongue and finger out of the hole.

It's the best toy she has right now.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Wobbly Tooth

Grace and I were at guitar lessons tonight and suddenly she stops everything to tell me she has a wobbly tooth. Sure enough, her bottom TWO teeth are loose. One is much, much looser than the other but she is so excited she can hardly stand it.

She's been a chatty Cathy ever since and plotting ways to get it out sooner.

Bryon went in with string and pliers while she was taking her bath and asked her which hand she wanted to pick then pretended he was going to pull it out. When I finally told her he was teasing, she wanted the real deal asap. She opened up wide and asked for the string and door knob.

I'll bet that tooth is out by tomorrow night for sure!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Hula Hoop Girl

video

Weight Watchers Redux


So yeah, back on Weight Watchers again. Really, if I were just smart, which obviously I am sometimes NOT, I would just stay on it. My problem is I like completing a project too much, marking off the list and moving on to the next thing. When your project is your health or your weight, really that is an ongoing project that should never end until your LIFE ends. This is what I know in my brain. My sweet tooth, my salty tooth and my savory tooth often think otherwise.

As soon as I lose weight and reach my "goal". Things are good for a while, maybe even for a year. Then slowly or sometimes not so slowly the weight comes back and maybe this next time, just a little more for good measure. It's a slippery slope.

I always justify in my mind the excuses or as I like to think of them, reasons, that it's okay for this to happen. I DESERVE to eat what I want. Life is short. I have stress and chocolate, dessert, whatever makes that feel better.

What I KNOW but often fail to remember is that I DESERVE to feel fit and strong and healthy, not full and fat and out of shape. Yes, round is a shape, but it's not pretty.

When I was 30 I was in the best shape of my life. Still not stellar but I did 2 duathalons (I was last on both but got a first place trophy in my age category anyway in the other even though I was dead last AND had a flat tire), walked several 5k's, RAN a 10k (it was painful), competed with three friends in an Adventure Race (we were second to the last), walked the roads and hills around our Highlandville house and hiked and backpacked the area trails A LOT.

Then we bought the farm, built a house, had a baby and things got busy and complicated and I sort of just gave up.

I'll be 42 in May. I need to be strong for this second half plus of my life. I DESERVE it.

So, back to WW and once again trying to make it all work and stick this time. I started at 170 last Monday. I'd like to be and stay at 140-145. Really when that first five pounds starts to go back on, we should be screaming and fighting like mad to beat it back into submission. Now if my cocky brain can just remember that this time and for every day after when I reach my goal.

This first week was hard because I ate out three times BUT I ate salads all three times. I used to say if I only liked salad I would be really skinny. Well, that may or may not be true now that I see all the OPTIONS you can ADD to your salad, ha! But at least it's filling, and now for the first time in my life, actually tasty and edible to me. I just ate a salad for lunch. And an apple. Really that was it. Getting used to not feeling like a stuffed toad is new, but I haven't been too famished yet, except for yesterday. I think the MORE I eat, the hungrier I am sometimes. I don't know but I guess I'll see if that logic pans out.

All and all, I did so so this week. I was pretty good until YESTERDAY. Dawn and I went to lunch an what I thought was a pretty healthy and low point choice from Panera was 17 points when I got home and added it up. Holy moly! Guess I should have paid more attention to the "creamy" part of the tomato soup! I was stressing out because Bryon made up a big pot of deer stew last night which is WONDERFUL and I made homemade cornbread and I entered both meals into the recipe builder on the WW website to determine the points and turns out the soup is about 6 points per serving and the cornbread was 3. BUT, when I entered in the cornbread something went wrong and it added all 36 points to my day's tally which I didn't figure out until a few minutes ago. I was stroking. I thought I'd eaten 72 points yesterday. Seriously. Eeek. Not that I'm incapable of accomplishing that.

I went upstairs to exercise (which I hadn't done all week) so I could count my activity points and repair some of the damage from yesterday's eating fiasco. Then when I came downstairs to enter it in I realized the cornbread error. Boy was I relieved! Turns out I'm now actually .5 points ahead! If I exercise tomorrow too, I'm golden for the week. Of course I have already used ALL my "free points" this week, but that's okay because being even is MUCH better than being 35+ points behind!

I weigh in on Monday, but today's sneak peek was 167.6. So I'm at least heading back in the right direction.




My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four.
Unless there are three other people.
Orson Welles (1915 - 1985)

Friday, January 1, 2010

List Love



I love lists.

This year I've started two ongoing LISTS. One is a compilation of things I want to do, big and small. I keep adding to it and drawing a line through the things I've accomplished. It's already got 44 things or activities on it. Some of them, even though I've "accomplished" them will continue to need to be done again and again, like making meatballs and bread. I'm conflicted as to whether to draw a line through those things after they are done or just leave them on list because in a day, a week or a month, I'll be doing them again. Oh, the curse of the Type A personality.

The other list is a little price book to carry around. I'm cursed with the Rice Frugality Gene and the thrill of a good deal. Now, I'm also and occasionally impulsive shopper so this is a bit of problem, but trying to find the best deal (especially on organic food) is part of my mission this year so I've started using my receipts and taking my little black price book to the grocery store to write down prices of the things I buy regularly and where I buy them so I can figure out the best shopping strategy. I've already discovered that SOMETIMES organic is NOT the most expensive choice and is in fact very comparable.

Of course I can't forget what the proprietor of Madewell Meats in Mt. Vernon told me one day when I visited his store. "You'll pay more now in money or later in your health" I'm pretty sure he's right. You can always make more money, but you can't always restore your health as easily.

I also made a "list" of all the meals, snacks and recipes we like to eat regularly so I can use it for better meal planning. Bryon doesn't want to be limited to my list though, so I'll throw in some curve balls and new recipes from time to time. He likes to cook too and already has a new soup prepped in the fridge for us to try. Some new recipes like the Zuppa Toscana are keepers, others like the Easy Veggie soup Grace helped me make that had a cup of orange juice in it... not so much.



The soup above was the Easy Veggie Soup. It was sort of yuck actually. Grace claimed to LOVE it (mostly because she cooked it) then wouldn't finish her bowl or eat it another day. It was sort of weird. The chickens enjoyed it though.

Now this... was swell...



Olive Garden® Zuppa Toscana

Makes: 6-8 servings
INGREDIENTS

* 1 lb ground Italian sausage
* 1½ tsp crushed red peppers (I left this out)
* 1 large diced white onion (left this out too)
* 4 Tbsp bacon pieces
* 2 tsp garlic puree
* 10 cups water
* 5 cubes of chicken bouillon
* 1 cup heavy cream (I used 1/2 and 1/2)
* 1 lb sliced Russet potatoes, or about 3 large potatoes
* ¼ of a bunch of kale

1. Sauté Italian sausage and crushed red pepper in a large pot. Drain excess fat, refrigerate while you prepare other ingredients.
2. In the same pan, sauté bacon, onions and garlic over low-medium heat for approximately 15 mins. or until the onions are soft.
3. Add chicken bouillon and water to the pot and heat until it starts to boil.
4. Add the sliced potatoes and cook until soft, about half an hour.
5. Add the heavy cream and just cook until thoroughly heated.
6. Stir in the sausage and the kale, let all heat through and serve. Delicious!

Buon appetito!

As for our meal planning list, I actually came up with quite a few things we like to eat regularly:

Main Dishes:

* roast, potatoes and carrots
* chili
* spaghetti and meatballs
* baked ziti
* balsamic pork chops and broiled peaches
* quiche
* weight watchers mini meat loaves
* salmon bake
* goulash
* enchiladas
* quesidillas
* shells and milk with cornbread
* mushroom chicken & rice
* potato soup and cornbread
* chicken noodle soup and mashed potatoes
* soupy potpie stuff
* lasagna
* homemade pizzas
* salsa chicken
* breakfast for dinner
* shepherd's pie
* spaghetti carbonara
* tilapia and pasta with stewed tomatoes


sides and desserts

* mac and cheese
* cream cheese mexicorn
* mashed potatoes
* zucchini muffins
* peachy stuff
* salad
* artisan bread rolls

Things to try:
* more soups
* more fish dishes
* calzones

So what's on my ongoing To Do List? Things big and small and every time something new pops into my head I just add it on.

Here's what I have so far:

* consider buying a bread machine
* consider buying a rice cooker? do I need it?
* bike the Willard trail
* buy the Root Cellar book and make some sort of root cellar
* organize the pantry
* organize the freezer
* organize the garage fridge
* make sure the cabin fridge is turned off
* clean out and empty all the plastic containers from my cabinet
* clean my desk drawer
* clean out my dresser drawers
* mix up the natural cleaners
* make homemade cocoa mix
* plan a January scrap night at church
* have another trivia party here
* invite the Butler's over
* invite the Craig's over
* invite the Hicks' over
* plan our meals
* refill Mom and Dad's digital photo frames
* do the Shamrock Shuffle
* come up with something to do as a family for a One Year Challenge
* call the Nature Girls Coop
* make more meatballs
* search for eco-friendly lids and flats for canning
* build a greenhouse
* build cold frames
* wash our pillows in hot water at the laundry mat
* find green power strips
* test our well water
* fill water bottles and place in out toilet tanks
* install the window screen upstairs
* install the screen door upstairs
* fix the kitchen faucet
* combine the compost piles
* get mulch from Springfield
* can tomatoes
* can peaches
* make zucchini relish
* visit the Rockin H Ranch in Norwood
* go to Baker Seed plant sale
* raise more pigs
* borrow Liz's Gene Logsdon book on grains
* grow wheat
* buy a grinding mill
* get new bees

This of course doesn't include my ongoing list for WORK. I keep a separate notebook for work and keep that list going too.

On my Blackberry and in my Outlook Notes, I also keep a list of books I want to read, online passwords, websites I want to visit, book club books for the past five years,my ever changing grocery list, this year's resolutions, blog ideas, who get's school photos and what sizes, garden ideas for 2010 of things I want to plant, good ideas in general, things to Google, music or artists I want to check out on Napster, random thoughts, things to buy, writing ideas for the perfect book, my coop order and basically anything else that pops into my mind.

Those are a LOT of lists.

It's just good to have a plan :)

A new YEAR, A new RESOLUTION, A new BEGINNING



I'm still working on this list for 2010 but here's what I have so far. Hmmm, looks like a lot of FOOD projects...I wonder why that is?

* Eat more organic and clean food
* Eat more local and US foods
* Take my lunch more when I work & eat less fast food
* Drink NO soda, at all, anymore
* Do more long term meal planning
* Lose 20 pounds...again.
* Buy more things Made in the USA when we have to make new purchases
* Pray daily
* Do more bible studies
* Finish the Old Testament (I only have 4 or 5 little books left)
* Read ALL the book club books this year.
* Learn to play my guitar
* Have a kick ass garden
* Finish the last 12 mile section of the OHT
* Have more PEACE and QUIET in 2010


* Eat more organic and clean food = I have a pretty good start on this one. I've tried to replace most of the prepackaged foods with homemade versions but sometimes it's still hard to make it all happen. For example, NY Eve last night we had Velveeta and Rotel, Little Smokies with Bronco Bob's Raspberry Chipolte sauce and Betty Crocker Brownies ...ain't nothing CLEAN about that my friend. Some meals are diamonds, some meals are rocks.

My first choice is organic, but sometimes when I'm at the grocery store or Walmart they just don't have an organic option. So when that happens, I chose the next best thing I can and ferret out... no high fructose corn syrup, fewest ingredients, stuff I can pronounce and have some sort of idea that it is actually a recognizable FOOD product. My weakness for which I still haven't replaced is Pop Tarts and Betty Crocker brownies... I'm not saying I'm Super Man or even Super Woman, but if I were, they would be my kryptonite.

My new food cult leader is Michael Pollan... he professes "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants". I like the simplicity of it. Now I just have to work on LIKING more plants. I did Google the recipe for Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana soup which has KALE in it that I usually pick out. I made it from scratch last week and it was a big hit with everyone. I didn't even pick out the kale but ate the whole thing. Baby steps.

* Eat more local and US foods = I have really been trying to pay attention to where food is from this past year and want to do even more of it this year. Of course when you eat out, all bets are pretty much off. Panera at least has some organic choices and proclaims to have hormone and antibiotic free chicken. I like that. I even ordered a SALAD last week, which was WAY intimidating and stressful. Stupid I know but seriously I had NEVER actually eaten a bowl of salad until THIS YEAR. Yeah, I'm 41. I got out of line twice while I was trying to decide which one to order because I'm so picky. I do NOT like ice burg lettuce, can't eat onions and ONLY like regular balsamic vinaigrette. Let me tell you something you already know, people like to pile on all sorts of weird things onto salad. I finally picked the Fuji Apple Chicken Tossed Salad with All-natural citrus-herb chicken, mixed field greens, romaine lettuce, vine-ripened tomatoes, NO red onions, pecans, Gorgonzola, apple chips & regular balsamic vinaigrette along with a bowl of their YUMMY tomato soup. I ate all but the big chunky pieces at the bottom. I hate those thick chunky pieces of lettuce too. I was feeling pretty self-rightously happy about my meal choice THAT day. Now only 365 x 3 more to go in this new year.

It's amazing when you start really looking at the labels on your food and start noticing where it all comes from. Of the various canned salmon on the shelf at Walmart, only one, their generic brand was caught and packed in Alaska, the rest was from Thailand. Now Alaska isn't very local, but it's at least in the US AND under US restrictions for food safety. I'll put my bets on the US over Thailand any day. Even though we seem to have recall after recall even here.

I can barely stand to buy and cook hamburger meat from Walmart or the grocery store anymore. I've been buying it from the Rockin H in Norwood. Local raised, grass fed, all natural beef. I trust those guys a lot more than the feed lots mega "farms" in Kansas. So see, sometimes even Made in the USA isn't enough, the more LOCAL, the better. Still you have to be careful because if you visit a few farms you'll quickly see that all farms are not equal as far as cleanliness and consistency.

* Take my lunch more when I work & eat less fast food = I really do want us all to eat less fast food. We, as a family, like eating out. Before Bryon and I moved here to the Big Cedars, we ate out 3 or four times a weekend in Springfield. Friday night, Saturday morning, Saturday lunch sometimes, Saturday night, Sunday morning. Since moving to the nether regions, eating out on the weekend is much less convenient and we just don't want to trek back to town for it after spending most of the week in Springfield for Bryon or across five counties for me. Bryon eats every day at the hospital and they actually have some pretty good food choice for him. I eat out most days for lunch. Grace eats at school. I have ALWAYS been one to be thinking about my next meal even as I'm eating the current one. Bryon is more fly by the seat of his pants usually. Grace seems to have adopted my eating strategies for planning ahead.

I cook something at home almost every week night or we eat leftovers unless one of us has a meeting to attend or we have to be away from home for some reason. We eat as a family at the kitchen table together nearly every night. I like that.

We do have a weakness for Freda's cafe in Marshfield where we frequent most Saturday mornings and many Sunday's for lunch after church. Not only do we love Freda and our little small town cafe and want to support her but we just like eating there. I don't plan to give that up anytime soon :)

I can do better about taking my lunch with leftovers though. It will save calories, money and give me some healthier choices to help make that other resolution of losing 20 pounds again more possible.

* Drink NO soda, at all, anymore = seriously, I don't drink very much soda anymore but my goal this year is to drink NONE. I tried to get Bryon and Grace to do this but Bryon only drinks one a day and doesn't want to give it up. He suggested I give up tea if he had to give up soda, but tea isn't bad for me and I didn't like the trade. Grace doesn't drink much soda either, but that girl likes her Bug Juice. She pretty much only gets it on vacation, trips to Hannah's with Grandpa or Daddy and occasionally when we have fast food. Hopefully by eating even less fast food, that will also mean less crappy drinks.

* Do more long term meal planning = this is still an ongoing mission. I do so much "planning" in my job, it's hard to want to keep up that level of preparation at home. Of course, being the TYPE A that I am, it's also hard not to.

* Lose 20 pounds...again = I've GOT to do this. I CAN do this. I hope with the changes above, losing weight will be easier.

* Buy more things Made in the USA when we have to make new purchases = this is harder than you think. Start looking at the country of origin on your foods and products. Nearly EVERYTHING at Walmart will say Made in China which is code for Will Break Soon by the way. Lots of our food comes from China, Thailand, Mexico and Indonesia too. You'll be surprised once you start looking.

* Pray daily = seems easy but it's hard to remember. I made a little post it note and put onto the dash of my car. When I was having a rough year at work after Grace was born, I prayed every morning in the quiet of the car on the way to work. It really made a tangible and visible difference in my day and helped turn things around for me. Even though things are going well now, it never hurts to have the most powerful entity in the Universe on your side. Thanks God.

* Do more bible studies = I'd like to do more of this. Our church has a women's group who have started some ongoing bible studies. It's just hard to fit it into the schedule. I can do them on my own, but have to muster up the discipline to make it happen. Surely I can complete at least ONE this year.

* Finish the Old Testament (I only have 4 or 5 little books left) =two years ago my resolution was to read through the entire bible. I made it to the last few books of the Old Testament only and then got side tracked with book club books and tired of the project. Let me tell you, the Old Testament is surprisingly VIOLENT. Not that I mind, I mean I read 27 VAMPIRE books this year. But it's THE BIBLE. People sending the heads of the enemies to others, lots of smoting and smiting etc. I'm glad I've read it even though I don't remember many details. When I'm reading other things it's surprising how many biblical references there are in ALL literature and everyday sayings. I just think it's good to have it in your heart and mind. You never know when you might need it and when something will pop back into your forgetful brain.

* Read ALL the book club books this year = last year was a tough year (the tenth!) for our book club. Many of us were experiencing some book club apathy and several of the books were less than discussion worthy. Some months only ONE of us (there are 8-12 regulars in the club) even READ the book. We had a come to Jesus meeting in November and I think we are ready (at least I am) to recommit to the book club. Our first book is The Red Tent which I started yesterday for our January 20 meeting. I've already been procrastinating because of it's churchy content (which of course probably seems ridiculous in light of the last few resolutions) but there you go. I fear it will be slow and painful but I'm going to read it... every word... so I'll have SOMETHING to contribute to the meeting. Who knows, maybe I'll be able to kill two birds with one stone, read the book club book AND a bible study all in one.

* Learn to play my guitar = I took Grace up to the music store in Marshfield this week and bought her a REAL guitar. She picked blue. I dusted off my Taylor Big Baby and we spent a few minutes plucking on some guitar strings at home in preparation for our first real guitar lesson together next Sat. Jan. 9. Grace had to practice on the little Walmart guitar she got for her birthday last year. It's so crappy it won't hold tune. She already has a little blister and was complaining but she also said she wanted to learn to play ALL the instruments. I told her we were starting with the guitar and THEN she could learn something else. I'll be steering her clear of the drums however.

* Have a kick ass garden = I STILL don't have my 2010 Baker Seed catalog and I'm feeling a little pissy about it. I'm going to try to resist buying seeds except for the things the must be grown by seed until we have a suitable greenhouse someday. Last year's seed starting turned into a real fiasco and I ended up buying plants at the May festival and sale at Bakers for EVERYTHING I had tried and failed to start from seed anyway. Lesson learned. Now I just have to remember that as my willpower wanes and the days get warmer and sunnier.

Go if you can, it's great! Baker's Seed Spring Planting Festival 10th Annual Spring Garden Event Sunday and Monday, May 2 & 3, (Sunday & Monday) 2010 – 10am – 7pm http://rareseeds.com/bakersville/festivals/spring-planting-festival/

Jere had to help push my car out of the mud last year. Sorry about covering you with muddy gumbo Jere and THANKS!

I want us to only grow heirloom foods this year. Do you hear that Bryon? I even have a couple of plans for the squash bugs. Darrel, if you are reading this, NEEM PY. Les in Strafford says that's the magic solution. I also read in this month's Organic Gardening letters that planting a couple of onions by each plant and cutting up onion tops and sprinkling on and around each plant will keep the dang pests at bay. It's worth a try because those squash bugs are the bane of my existence!

* Finish the last 12 mile section of the OHT = I really want to do this in 2010. I have all the info for shuttling and everything. I just need to get my hiking mojo and confidence back and do it. I'm thinking of trying to do it all in one day and alone. I think I can if I start working up to it now. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can...

* Have more PEACE and QUIET in 2010 = I forget sometimes how much NOISE there there is in my life. Most of it is my own fault. I leave that damn television on way too much. When I'm deep into the tv season and every show in the series I watch are new, it's hard for me to turn it off. I find I leave it on even when I'm not in the room for the NOISE. What is up with that? I don't know why I do that. It makes me scatter brained and keeps me from being able to concentrate on the task at hand. Last year I went 40 days without watching it in the summer time. When I turn it off, time goes slower. I think I need that. It's just hard to get used to it.

I drive around most days in my car without the radio on. I listen NPR in the morning and evening but nothing during the day. Man, I have some GREAT ideas and come up with all sorts of plans in my brain during those quiet times. Now I just need to translate all of that to action and turn off the noise.

Here's a toast to a new year, new resolutions and new beginnings. Salute!