Sunday, December 26, 2010

May your days be merry and bright

I hope you all had a wonderful and merry Christmas. We did. It was an amazing day of being together and loving one another. I am so blessed.

Monday, December 20, 2010

To post, or not to post

I have been going back and forth all day trying to decide if I should take the time to post or not. Not only would I have to take time to do it, but I really haven't much to say today. My mind is a flutter with Christmas preparations. I have been trying to figure out what I am taking to various holiday gatherings and what to make for my little family on Christmas day. I have been wrapping presents (a chore that I hate more than I can tell you) and cleaning house to get ready for Santa's debut. The neighbor gifts are delivered, I only have one package left to mail, and all the Christmas shopping is done.

My thoughts have been turning to the new year and what I would like to accomplish. I have been trying to think of what resolutions I would like to commit to. This year I want to realistically commit to a few things and actually follow through. It's not that I'm flaky (although that may be the case some of the time) with my resolutions, it's that I never document them and soon forget them. Plus, I have always been a little skeptical of setting resolutions just because it's January 1st. But this year is going to be different. I plan to only set a small few well documented resolutions and to stick to them. All year. I'll update you more on that.

I have been awfully hard on myself lately. I keep trying to keep a positive outlook. I keep reminding myself where I have been and how far I've come, but I keep getting frustrated. My clothes don't fit, still. I am so tired all the time, again. The pain is returning, quickly. I know what I need to do, but at the moment I can't do it, or at least, not all of it. I'll be getting tested for Celiac's disease at the end of January, until then I have to eat gluten. To be honest, I'm not very hopeful of getting a real diagnosis, and that also makes life hard.

Do you question yourself often? I sure do. Especially when it comes to my pain and fatigue issues. Every new test comes back fine. Every doctor tells me I'm fine. So maybe I really am. There is a small chance I can't eat gluten, but I've given up hope for a diagnosis. I figure after this last test I can just change my eating habits to manage the pain and fatigue. But then I wonder if I truly am making this all up. Maybe I don't hurt. Maybe I'm not tired. Maybe I'm lazy and I use this as an excuse. I've always been one to like attention, maybe I'm making all of it up.

Yes, these are the things going through my head lately. It's funny how this time of year can bring so much happiness, excitement, fatigue, depression, and bewilderment all to one person all at the same time.

Ah, perhaps I shouldn't have posted today after all . . .

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Bread

So I have a confession. Remember those wonderful sugar substitutes I recommended? I had never actually tried them on a large recipe, just in minor little things. So I decided to play around with them. I found a recipe for whole wheat pumpkin bread that I liked and decided to change it up and see how it turned out. I had been feeding the finished product to my husband for a day or two before I mentioned that it is actually healthy. He was shocked. Apparently it tastes too good to be healthy. Try it for yourself and see.

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Bread (with chocolate chips for good measure)

Um, so some of my loaves didn't come out of the pan like I thought they should. I guess I should have taken a better picture of the ones that actually did turn out, but you get the idea, right? Isn't that bread pan cute? It's from my sister. You want to fill your bread pan about 3/4 of the way up, as shown in the picture.

1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup molasses
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups pumpkin puree
1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips, preferably 60% cocoa 
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
2. Lightly grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan with butter.
3. Combine flour, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl. Whisk and set aside.
4. In another large bowl, combine butter, honey, and molasses and beat for two minutes. Add the eggs and lightly beat until just combined. Mix in pumpkin and vanilla -- do not over mix. Gradually beat in the flour mixture in thirds.
5. Dilute baking soda in ¼ cup hot (not boiling) water, then beat into batter.
6. Stir in, by hand, the chocolate chips and nuts.
7. Pour the batter into the pan and bake at 325 for approximately 55 to 65 minutes. (test for doneness being careful not to over bake as it may dry out the bread) 
8. Remove from pan and place on a wire rack to cool. If you plan to serve this to guests and want clean slices, then allow it to cool for 30 minutes. Otherwise dig in after 5 minutes.

I got the original recipe from here. I baked a bunch of mini loaves for 60 minutes. They're perfect for the neighbor gifts we are giving out (although I did pair them up with fudge which is less than healthy, oops).

Monday, December 13, 2010


Did you read Friday's post? Immediately after I posted it I started thinking to myself, am I really this shallow? Then my husband got home and read it. When he got to this picture:

And read what I wrote he started laughing. When he was finished reading he told me that he had thought I was writing a sweet post about my family and the ones I care for. But  then I started going off about my hair. Although he didn't say it, I think he was probably thinking I was rather shallow as well.

All weekend I've been thinking about that question: am I really so shallow? And I guess the answer I came up with was yes. And no. The more I thought about it the more I realized that on days when I'm feeling shallow and thinking about my hair, clothes, make up and what have you I tend to have a harder time with accepting myself. On days when my thoughts are better engaged I tend to feel better about myself and am more comfortable where I'm at physically.

It's interesting, but our thoughts really have a lot of power. You wouldn't really think that worrying about what to wear to a party could send you down a long spiral of self-degrading thoughts, but it often does. I know it certainly did for me last Friday. When I'm shallow it feels as though I knock myself back down into the pit I have been trying to climb out of.

So how do we correct our shallow thoughts? I'm still working on that. Because let's be honest, we are all going to still bother about our hair and what outfit we should have for a specific event. We all still have to think about our size when we buy clothes, and those cares aren't just going to disappear. The challenge is thinking about those things in a way that doesn't create a dark aura on our feelings of self-worth.

One thing I think that does help is to step back and take it all into perspective. This takes a conscious effort, but really when you think about it objectively it likely doesn't matter what you wear or how you look. How you act, now that will leave a much longer impression.

So as I think about our next Holiday party I need to remember to step back and worry less about frivolous things and more about the things that truly matter. Any other thoughts on ways to keep your mind out of the pit?

Oh, and this cute girl that appeared in both of my pictures in my shallow post happens to be my sister. Isn't she beautiful? I think she is.

P.S. There's still time to sign up for the cookbook giveaway. Tonight I'm making a yummy chili that comes out of that book for dinner. So many delicious recipes. And something else I love about the book is that with each recipe it makes suggestions for what sides would be good and how to make the meal a total and complete meal. It takes a lot of guess work out of it for me. Sign up here.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Things on my mind

My mind is all over the place today. I'm really not getting much done. Here's what I've been thinking about in no particular order.

Look at how cute he is. How can I not think about him? And he's been sick lately, so he has been in my thoughts even more than normal.

I've been thinking a lot about what I need to do to help out Santa this year. I'm close to being done , but I wish I was all the way done.

This is another person I think of often. He needs a haircut right now. I need to figure out where we are going to fit that into our schedule this weekend. I miss him when he's at work. 

I've been thinking about my hair. It used to be pretty short, as you can see. And today I miss that. I need to go blow dry it which always takes forever. Then what to do with it. I miss just putting gel in and not thinking about it again.

But then again, look at it long. That's what I'm going for again. It's been a few years since it's been really really long and I want to get it there again. Patience. . .

This man is impossible to buy for for Christmas. I love my dad dearly, but come on.

Food. I've been thinking about food, and my relationship with food, and what food I would like to eat, and what foods I think I should stop eating, and about making fudge for the neighbors, and making other candy for family, and about how I really like food, and how I really hate food.

And about how thin I used to be. I thought I was fat when this was taken. Ammon's company has parties both tonight and next Friday. I have nothing to wear and I've been stressing about it. If only I were a size 4 again. I have boxes of adorable clothes (not pictured) that would be excellent choices. But those are negative thoughts and I am trying to put them aside. Remember the progress, just think about the progress. . .

Speaking of appearance, I need to leave in an hour and my hair is wet and makeup is not on and I have a baby to get ready to visit his aunt. Better run.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Tis the season to gratify that sweet tooth. I automatically assume that if something is sweet then it must be loaded down with sugar and other things that are completely not healthy, but there are ways to make your favorite desserts a little easier on your body. I've compiled a list of Sweetener replacers that work well in place of your regular granulated white sugar. Enjoy.

~Agave Nectar: replace 1 cup sugar with 1/2 cup agave nectar and reduce liquids by 1/4 cup.

~Brown Rice Syrup: replace 1 cup sugar with 1 to 1 1/4 cups brown rice syrup and reduce liquids by 1/4 cup.

~Honey: replace 1 cup sugar with 1/2 cup honey and reduce liquids by 1/4 cup.

~Maple Syrup: replace 1 cup sugar with 1/2 cup maple syrup and reduce liquids by 1/4 cup.

~Molasses: replace 1 cup sugar with 1/2 cup molasses, no need to reduce liquids.

~ Stevia: replace 1 cup sugar with 1 teaspoon dry Stevia, no need to reduce liquids.

~If no liquid is called for in the recipe add 3-5 tablespoons of flour for each 3/4 cup of liquid concentrated sweetener.

~There are a lot of whole wheat flours that substitute well for refined white sugar. Try whole wheat pastry flour if there are no gluten allergies.

There are so many ways to eat delicious desserts and other favorites without compromising health. Enjoy the holidays, the yummy food, and your health.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Guilt Free Breaks

I've been a terrible blogger lately. Both my boys have been terribly sick. I've sprained my ankle yet again. I'm eating gluten so that I can be tested for an intolerance and it is sapping my energy. Christmas is around the corner and I still need to do so much (shopping, crafting, baking, candy making, cards, etc...). With all of that blogging has been set on the back burner.

I have been feeling guilty about my lack of blogging. Especially on my family blog. I love to blog. I enjoy it. And I feel like I need to keep up with it. But guilt? Is that really necessary?

I've been asking myself this question a lot lately. December is overwhelming and I feel like it really shouldn't be. To me, this month is a time to remember the life of Jesus Christ. It is a time of good deeds and good will.

So I have decided to set guilt aside. Too much of my life has been accompanied by guilt that was unnecessary and usually un-needed (and always unwelcome). Instead of stressing about everything not getting done I have been trying to focus on the things that truly matter.

Like these two:

Guilt causes us to have feelings of inadequacy about ourselves. This is unhealthy. It is also ridiculous. When you have really done something heinous then I feel that guilt has a place. Otherwise, should we be feeling guilty that we took time to hold and rock our sick baby instead of writing blogs or getting our Christmas cards addressed? I don't think so. Some things are important, others are more so, and we are only one person with only one life to live. Let's do the most important things and let the others deal with it. Life is too short to feel like we aren't good enough because we had guilt over missing one workout or eating fast food for dinner one in a while. You get the picture.

There is still time to enter the giveaway. It is open until the New Year! But I have a magic number of entries in mind that we need to hit. So keep getting the word out and please, enter more than once!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me (and giveaway)

Well, it's that time of year again. No, not the time that you start allowing Christmas music to be played in your home (although that may be happening too). It's my birthday. Sandwiched in right after Thanksgiving and right before the Christmas hype gets out of control. At least it's an easy day to remember for the most part. The 1st of December. No crazy numbers.

I'm turning 27 this year. It's sort of crazy to me. I have not been afraid of aging. In fact I think there are many thrilling things about getting older, but something about entering my late 20s sort of gives me the freak out. Why? I really don't know. I suppose in all of my years growing up I imagined what I would do in my 20s and never really thought about life after that. Maybe what weirds me out most is that my sister is now 23 and in 2 months time my baby brother will be 20. 

So on this my Happy Birthday I wanted to share a few pictures of a younger Melanee. If you were wondering where my son got his eyes this should clear up any mystery there. I'm lovin' the fake backgrounds and such. I've been beating back my feelings of despair over my current size all day. I've been trying to focus on what I've accomplished in the last few months rather than on where I wish I was. What is it about birthdays that brings up so much self scrutiny? 

Since it is my birthday, and I can do what I want on my special day I have decided that it is time for another giveaway. It has been far too long. Don't get too excited, it is another book, which may not thrill everyone, but as I have said before, that is where my passion lies. But this time it is a cookbook. In fact it is THE cookbook that got me going on my path to better health. This is the cookbook that has the whole elimination diet in it. It is a wonderful book and one I have recommended to many people.

The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook. Look it up and see if it doesn't interest you. I learned a lot in the pages before the recipes. I love nearly all of the recipes I've tried (and there are a lot). I feel great when I eat better and this cookbook has really opened my eyes and helped me learn how to cook in a healthier way. I don't really like to cook, but I have really been enjoying this. Even better, it shows you how to change recipes to get rid of nuts, eggs, gluten, and other foods that are common allergens. So if you have someone with an allergy in your family, this book is an excellent choice.

So here's what you can do to enter the giveaway. You can enter once or all 5 times:
1. Leave a comment letting me know you want to enter.
2. Become a fan (you know you want to). Then leave me a comment.
3. Grab my cool new button and put it on your blog. Then leave me a comment.
4. Blog about this on your own blog (this is worth 2 entries). Then leave me a comment.
5. Tell about the giveaway on Facebook or Twitter. Then leave me a comment.

Good luck!