December 3, 2017

2017 My Reading Life

I fell back in love with reading a few years ago.  I grew up as a reader, but somehow, college and young adulthood stole away reading as a priority in my life.  I will also admit that one of the things I'm really not good at in life is postpartum.  It seems to take me 4 years to remember where I left my brain after each child.  Add in a hectic schedule and daily stress, and I wasn't in a place where I felt I could pick up more than one book a year and binge and splurge.
But I missed reading.

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I finally came to the conclusion that I needed to carve out small amounts of time each day to make reading a habit instead of burning out by reading books in one sitting.  Finding that I could make reading a daily part of my day was a good lesson in moderation for me as well.
I also discovered the Modern Mrs. Darcy.  Anne Bogel's recommendations were just what I needed at the time to help me discover where literature had evolved.  Her reviews gave me a real understanding of how many great stories there are to be read right now with a starting point in my personal journey.

This year she had 2 reading challenges, and after my personal success with the 2016 version, I was determined to do both.  Some of the choices from this list were my favorites for the year with others being ones I had to shelve unfinished.  For me, the challenge was to stretch myself and learn a little more about who I am and who I want to become.

I've got titles, authors and a blurb about most of my choices.  Feel free to friend me on goodreads to see my reviews.   Looking over my list, I am seeing that "fun" and "growth" seem to irrelevant, and I've messed up a few of the categories as well. 
 The Modern Mrs Darcy 2017 Reading Challenge. Get more out of your reading life in 2017 with this choose-your-own-bookish-adventure challenge!
Reading for Fun: 
(but isn't it all?)
A book you chose for the cover
A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout
I chose this book because it had birds on the cover.  This was often a difficult book to read due to the story told about kidnapping and abuse.  The only thing that kept me going thru it was knowing it was autobiographical.  I figured if she had the strength to tell the story then I should find enough to listen to it.

A book with a reputation for being un-put-down-able
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
I'm not sure I'd put it in this category if I did things over.

A book set somewhere you've never been but would like to visit
Caraval by Stephanie Garber
I was expecting a bit more from this one due to all the hype I heard.  
It was still a quick, fun read.

A book you've already read
Ice Palace by F Scott Fitzgerald
I have regularly re-read this book for the last last 35 years.

A juicy memoir
Just Kids by Patty Smith
I'm not sure what to say about this one.  I was not familiar with Patty Smith or Mapplethorpe prior to reading.  It was a story to be told of a certain time and place with relationships that were made real.  

A book about books or reading
The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester
Great on audio.  
It was an odd topic, the writing of the OED, but this book brought it to life.

A book in a genre you usually avoid
Considered a sci-fi "Space Western" read by Levar Burton in his podcast.  Haunting.

A book you don't want to admit you're dying to read
The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
Okay, I made quick notes for each category on the challenge list, and I had left out the "don't want to admit" part.  I was dying to read this one, but had no issues with admitting it.

A book in the backlist of a favorite new author
The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King
 Same as the above.  I omitted the "new author" part.  I have always enjoy Stephen King, but hadn't read this from his backlist.  Plus by his standards, it is short.

A book recommended by someone with great taste
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
Recommended on Modern Mrs Darcy.  I listened thru audible channels for free and it was hilarious.  I will admit that I did keep looking it up on wikipedia to make sure I was understanding it as I wasn't sure it was supposed to be that funny.

A book you were exited to buy or borrow but haven't read yet
Confusion of Languages by Sioban Fallon
I got this one on kindle from the library and had been anxiously watching for it.  It was good, but not great?  Maybe the letdown was in anticipation?

A book about a topic or subject you already love
AWOL on the Appalachian Trail by David Miller
My secret dream in life is to hike the AT.  

The Modern Mrs Darcy 2017 Reading Challenge. Get more out of your reading life in 2017 with this choose-your-own-bookish-adventure challenge!

Reading for Growth:
A Newberry Award winner or Honor book
21 Balloons by William Pene duBois
Not my norm and maybe there's a reason?  I know many enjoy reading children's literature, but I'm not sure that it's for me.  Or maybe I just do kids' lit for homeschool already and want my reading to be mine.

A book in translation
The Second Bakery Attack by Murakami
I also listened to this on Levar Burton Reads.  

A book that is more than 600 pages
The Nix by Nathan Hill
Probably my favorite book on the list.   It was a great, massive story that is both funny and real. The characters are interesting and it leaves you hopeful about life in general.  

A book of poetry, a play or an essay collection
Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion
I bought a kindle copy but the audio of this is amazing and just brings it to life.  One of y favorites that is timeless.

A book of any genre that addresses current events
Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
I'm kind of over the politics of the year so I went in a different direction with this audiobook that my teen son and I listened to.  It was thought provoking and discussed the process of end of life issues.  

An immigrant story
The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani
This is fiction/chick lit but was so much fun and a great story.

A book published before you were born
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
I listened for free with audible channels.  Kenneth Branagh was the reader and brought this to life.  I'm pretty sure I'd never make it thru the print version.

Three books by the same author
I was just lamenting earlier today that I'm out of Tana French books in her Dublin Murder Squad series.  She just keeps getting better and better, and I am ready for another.
Same with Robert Galbraith/JK Rowling and the Cormoran Strike series.  I'm ready for the next.  The Strike series just gets better and better as it goes.

A book by an #ownvoices or #diversebooks author
This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel
Okay.  This is the one I couldn't finish.  I did have to google what the #  categories were, and while I have no issues with diversity this one didn't work for me.  Here's a link to my Goodreads if you really want to know why.  It has nothing to do with transgender, but with parenting.

A book with an unreliable narrator or ambiguous ending
We Are All Completely Besides Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
I thought it was slightly odd to go into a story knowing that the narrator might not be reliable, but this one was a good choice that took you to a strange place, but in a good way?

A book nominated for an award in 2017
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
Probably the most meaningful book I've read this year with a story that gut punches me even months after reading it.  

A Pulitzer Prize or NBA winner
Barbarian Days by William Finnegan
I don't even like the water that much, but this book on Surfing Life is really about so much more.

August 29, 2017

BBQ Sauce!

I like to keep it honest, I hope you all know.
I love THM and I love BBQ sauce, but I've never tried the E one from the Cookbook because BBQ, to me, goes with S meats and a side of slaw.
My family eats BBQ regularly and I often just buy a sauce.  After all, I like to keep things easy.  But we were out?  Seriously!
So then I was in search of a low carb sauce online that I could use in any setting, and honestly, all the pop ups, ads and a ton of words just to get to the recipe gets to me.  So I'll keep it short and sweet with a few photos from my handy iPhone to show I actually made and eat the stuff.
The meal is pulled pork from a pork roast (S in THM speak) cooked overnight in my crockpot with some water and salt/pepper.  The slaw is my base recipe but with a broccoli blend that I bought in a bag (I've been busy and didn't have the time or need to chop) and I added sriracha instead of the mustard and poppy seeds (basically mayo, vinegar, sriracha and a doonk of pure stevia). Okra pickles are my newest obsession and there are a few on the side with a joseph's low carb pita underneath it all.
I hope you enjoy!

Kimi's BBQ Sauce!

1- 6oz can tomato paste
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp mustard (I used brown mustard from a jar, you could use any kind or the powdered version)
2 doonks stevia, more if you like sweet/I don't
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1-2 tsp worcestershire sauce
1-2 tsp Franks hot sauce, sriracha would also work
3/4 cup water

Put it all in a small pan, bring to a light boil and then turn down the heat to simmer for about 20-30 minutes.  Keep in the fridge and use in 2-3 weeks.

January 31, 2017


I've had a hard time with exercise the last 2 years.  As I've gotten older I find that injury and weakness are also increasing.  Because of this, I find that I can no longer push myself as I had in the past.
But I've discovered in training that sometimes going slower and keeping things easy are what make you stronger.

He has told you, O man, what is good, and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8
I often feel my expectations are harder than what God puts on me.  I push and push while God just wants me to walk.
He doesn't say sit or dwell.
It doe
sn't say run.
He says walk.
This is the way, walk in it.
Jeremiah 30:21

Thus says the Lord: Stand by the roads and look and ask for the ancient paths where the good way is, and walk in it and find rest for your souls.  
Jeremiah 6:16

I often feel so stressed by all the things I feel I should be doing, but God isn't telling me to work harder.  He is saying that there is action on my part, but that maybe sometimes I overthink and over-react. 
When all I need to do is just walk.

January 30, 2017

Getting out of the menu rut with THM

Getting in a rut with menu planning is always a challenge for me.  Yes, I like and appreciate the comforts of some foods, but it just kills my soul to have the same foods day after day.
This is part of the reason I read cookbooks regularly... not just things that are Trim Healthy Mama approved, but things that I might be able to transform to THM.
Yes, there are some things that I consider weekly staples and will plan for just because I know they are quick and easy... mainly variations of the Loaded Fotato Soup are just too easy, healthy and tasty this time of year to not enjoy.
Kimi's Quick Cole Slaw
And even though I often have lofty aspirations, my final menu usually ends up fairly normal.  It's really about rotating proteins and ingredients, but shopping sales at stores can sometimes limit this.

I've also added some recipes with Baking Blend.  I'm actually out at this time but I have been using this recipe for Low Carb Baking Mix from Little Lambs with success.
Got chicken?
I bought a few packs and made Bangin' Ranch
Drum (and thighs) along with using
the sauce from Spicy Chicken Wings
Many of these recipes are found on the THM Membership site (I have links for others).  I tend to love the Menu Builder for just this reason.  I can put in what meal, type of meal and style of food and see a bunch of options to choose from.  You may also search by ingredient and then tag the recipes you like the best.
It is still on sale for a few more days if you want to try it out.  
I'm still working at getting back to my goal range, only 2 pounds away today!
This is my plan for the week

I personally enjoy drinks like Good Girl Moonshine and the Winter Wonderland Sip throughout the day.  I listed the Trimmy Lite on day 1, but it is a morning staple.
Day 1
B-  Hardboiled eggs and berries with Trimmy Lite (S)
L-  Meat loaf with cauliflower mash and broccoli salad (S)
S-  Popcorn (E)
D-  Greek salad with Potsticker Patties (S) Cookbook/Membership site

Day 2
B-  Cinnamon Bun Cake (S) 
L-  Sandwich with 2 slices Ezekiel bread, lean cold cuts and veggies.  Apple on the side (E)
S-  2 Wasa with Laughing cow wedge (FP)
D-  Bangin' Ranch chicken, cole slaw and side salad (S) Cookbook

Day 3
B-  Raspberry Scones (S)
L-  Loaded Fotato Soup (FP)
S-  Spiced Apple Cake (E) Membership site
D- Rainbow Kai Si Ming (S) Cookbook

Day 4
Faux-Carb Alfredo Sauce-s
B-  Eggs and Bacon (S)
L- Chili Relleno Casserole (S) Original book/membership site
S-  Almond Raspberry Breakfast Swirl (FP)
D-  Spaghetti squash with Faux Carb Alfredo and veggies (S)

Day 5
B-  Trim Healthy Pancakes (E)
L-  Cheesy Dream Soup (FP) Cookbook
S-  Peanutty Fudge (S) Cookbook
D- Pearl's Chili (S) Original book/Membership site

Day 6
B-  Sausage Balls (S) Cookbook
L-  Chana Dal Soup (E) Recipes in books, but I just cook it in chicken stock and spices
S-  Cottage Berry Whip (FP)
D-  Pizza on sourdough crust with lean meats, veggies and part-skim mozzarella (E)

Day 7
B-  Oatmeal (E)
L-  Chef Salad (S) Go crazy with S ingredients on the salad bar!
S-  Shake Gone Nuts (FP) Cookbook
D-  Lazy Lasagna (S)  Cookbook

January 24, 2017

Kimi's Simple Cole Slaw

I love all things cabbage.  Seriously.  It's cheap and amazingly healthy and also pretty easy to prepare as well.  You can get as intensive as you like with culturing to make things like sauerkraut or kimchi or just take it easy and saute it in a pan of butter.  You can steam it or use it as a wrap.
But one of my all time favorites is just to make a slaw.
Cole slaw is a great side dish or  even topping for BBQ or chili dogs.
This is the recipe I've used for the last few decades with a few tweaks to make it THM-worthy (Trim, Healthy Mama) as an S recipe.
Also... like most things in life, there are no absolute directions here.  I am including rough amounts, but they will always vary depending on your own tastes.

Kimi's Simple Cole Slaw- S
1 small, or half a large, head of cabbage
1/2 sweet onion, finely sliced (a regular white or yellow onion is fine)
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
2-4 T apple cider (or white) vinegar
1-2 doonks pure stevia
1 Tbsp poppy seeds

Cut the cabbage into very fine strips or shreds, the finer the better.
In a bowl, mix in the onion and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
In a separate bowl or cup, mix together the mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, stevia and poppy seeds till blended well.
Pour dressing over the cabbage/onion and mix together till coated.
Allow to chill for a few hours before serving.

January 11, 2017

It's really about the story

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes."
Marcel Proust

Over the past year, I have re-discovered my love of reading.
I grew up as a reader, but as I grew older, I had the issues of time and focus.  I also have always found that I become very immersed in stories so I would allow a once a year splurge that would usually involve a three day marathon with several hundred pages with everything else in life taking a back seat.  This is fine when you're a childless twenty-something, but not always a good thing as priorities and needs shift.

Realizing that this reading style wasn't sustainable for my life, I'd limit my reading to one book every year or so.
But I found as life changed, stress or big events seemed to be defined and remembered by my reading.  I turned to books for therapy when I had major life changes or events, and now think of the book that went with that time and how it helped or supported me.  

Last year I discovered that I have time to read.  I always had the time actually, but it just was hard to see from certain perspectives.  The time was subtle and always there.  It was about changing how I viewed reading and using my time.

Sometimes it is just as simple as recognizing what was always there....

In a recent read, I've been looking at the life of St. Francis of Assisi.  One thing that I learned was that my God time shouldn't be a marathon either.  It shouldn't be on or off, or black or white, a valley or a mountain. 
It should just be.

I remember falling in love with the stories I heard in the Bible as a child.  Doctrine didn't draw me to God.  What made sense was the stories.
I spent a lot of time with my grandparents growing up.   They taught me so much including how to read and love books and stories, but more importantly,  they made time to tell me stories and play games.  I don't recall them ever telling me that they didn't have time.
In these stories I saw protection and promise.  I saw God's caring and constancy.  It was made real thru these people who cared for me.

God's word isn't made of doctrinal rules, but shows the struggles and real lives of His people.  People like me.
I learned from my Grandparents that the stories were just as much a part of God as they were.

I love logic and that God has provided structure in our world, but I have been missing the part as an adult that God is a creator and artist.  He is telling his story, not just his laws or rules, in the Bible and with his people.  
I have been trying for most of my life to put God into the same pattern I had in reading.  Worship and study was either off or on.
I was in the habit of  trying to fit God into my life instead of seeing how I fit into his plan.  I was failing to see that God wasn't a splurge, but everywhere and in all things.

I'm seeing that the story and taking time to learn it as well as live it are what my life should be about.

What I've realized is that study and worship don't have to be big.  They don't always require going to a building with a minister or leader or following a certain schedule.  Sometimes worship means being aware of God's presence within our world.
It's recognizing his art in nature.
We just have to see it.

It makes me aware that God has given me a story as well to tell with my life, and that I need to be more open to listening to the stories of others.
Most days I still don't know what my story is, but I'm learning that often it is just about showing up and being aware of life and those around me.  I'm finding that so much of my life is filled with those who just want me to be there and be present with them.
And maybe I just need to start with learning to tell the stories I already know with the passion and love that they were told to me so that the children whose lives I'm blessed to be in will learn to love them and hold them in their hearts just as I did.

January 9, 2017

A week of THM..... Family style!

Most of us on Trim, Healthy Mama (THM) don't live in a bubble where we just make single serve meals for only ourselves while having a perfectly stocked pantry of every possible ingredient with a limitless budget.
Many of us are busy Mama's who are juggling jobs, homeschool, kids of various ages, husbands and budgets.
I'm right there with you.
I'm a wife and mother of three kids who range from college to preschool.  I homeschool as well as work as a RN outside the home.  My family has a background that tends towards natural, purist-y eating, and this means that I tend to cook most of our meals.

Making a meal plan means that I need to look at what we are ALL going to eat.  I don't get stressed with rounding out meals, but have to make sure that I plan on giving my growing kids more.

As someone who has lived on THM at goal weight for the last several years, one of the issues is making a THM meal for me and rounding it out for my family without me going overboard.  While my family can enjoy crossovers regularly, and even eat off-plan, I can't let myself fall into the trap of continuous crossovers or with having off-plan foods even at goal.
After all, a little soon becomes a little more and then even more.... at least for me.

My boys with Trim, Healthy Pancakes covered in honey
and some freshly whipped cream.  Big guy gets
some coffee with half and half.
One thing I look at with menu planning for my family is content of food.  I don't want them to eat poorly, but to have well rounded meals.  This is yet ANOTHER reason to really focus on getting in non-starchies with each meal and snack.  I don't want to just fill them up with carbs and fats, but make sure that health is a huge part of our habits.  To me, this means getting in non-starchies.

This is obviously a 5 day schedule, but I think you get the idea.  My kids are all pretty thin, active and have no health issues so I do opt for rounding out meals in this way for them.
Hope you find something that is a help or inspiration for this week!

B-  Trim Healthy Pancakes (E) with berries (OK, I forgot the berries so mine were plain) Add whipped cream with stevia and honey as a family option.
L-  Kai Si Ming (S) add ramen for family option.  (I use store bought ramen, throw out the flavor pack and make my own soup base with homemade chicken stock, spices and gelatin).
S-  Popcorn (E)  cook in coconut oil, for family feel free to add S-style limits when cooking
D- Salmon patties with peas and roasted sweet potatoes (CO).  Feel free to add regular potatoes for kids.

B-  Eggs and hash (S)  add 2 slices of sprouted bread with butter and honey for family
L-  Cheeseburger Pie with side salad (S) add side of potatoes or brown rice for family
S-  Cheesecake berry crunch (S) no need to add to this great snack!
D-  Curry with rice (E)  top with plain full fat Greek yogurt (S) for family

B-  Anabolic oatmeal (E) add butter
L-   Broccoli chicken casserole (S) add 2 slices of sprouted bread for family
S-  Apple with 1 tsp peanut butter (E) for family let them smear on peanut butter or add some cheese
D-  Beef stir fry with veggies (S)  add rice for a crossover

Briana's Berry taco with Winter
Wonderland Sip
B-  Creamy quinoa (s-helper) add butter or coconut oil for family to make crossover
L-  Chicken salad on joseph's pita with broccoli salad (S)  use sprouted bread instead of pita and add a piece of fruit for family
S-   Briana's Berry Taco (S) use whole wheat or sprouted tortilla for family
D-  Burger with cabbage (S) add roasted potatoes or sweet potatoes for family

B-    Baked blueberry oatmeal (E) with whipped cream (stevia sweetened) for family
L-  Clam chowder (S) family gets a side of sprouted bread or make 2 batches of soup, one with radishes and one with potatoes
S-  Pink smoothie (E) after making, pour mine into glass and add bananas and some coconut cream for family
D-  Mediterranean Chicken Stew (S) add some brown rice for family

January 1, 2017

Continued success.. a menu

I spent the last week getting back to basics on Trim, Healthy Mama with this menu.  I've been feeling more energized
and looking to the next week.  After all, success takes planning and preparation.
I've been working a bunch since we've been off homeschool the last few weeks and I have one more week left.  Add in play time with my little guy and I really am not feeling inspired to spend a ton of time in the kitchen.
I've always felt that THM is a lifestyle that promotes health and keeps me able to do all that I need to do in life.  Yes, it is wonderful to be free of all the weight I've lost (starting in November 2012 with 45 pounds over 9 months and maintained since then, mostly until the last few weeks) but this mainly allows me to be able to move and do more each day.  That is the real JOY of THM.

But as I posted last week... I've been cheating myself here and there for the last few weeks, and had put on 10 pounds.  I'm down 2 pounds from last week and feeling better.  Yes, I've had some 10-12 hour days at work and have been so busy and stressed.  

 So this is my plan for this week filled with more busy, long days and work.
I love the THM Membership site and am using many recipes featured there.  I've been a member since it opened and have been so happy with all the new recipes, videos and hints as well as all of the Original book's recipes and ingredients from the Cookbook.  The menu builder is a great help and allows you to customize and prints a shopping list based on your menu down to the serving sizes.  The Menu Builder is great when you're not sure what you want but know a certain ingredient or meal type that you want to utilize.

I like sharing a good thing and the MEMBERSHIP is currently on SALE!  Google THM Membership  for more info.
Most recipes from my blog here are also on the website so that you may use the Menu Builder or grocery list function as well. 

Also... I realize looking at this menu that there seems to be lots of cake for breakfast.  I find it goes well with coffee and helps to inspire the rest of my day!

Getting back on plan/ Week 2

B-  Hash and eggs (S)  Membership site
S-  Almond Raspberry Breakfast Swirl  (FP)  Original book/Membership site
D-  Buffalo Chicken Casserole (S)  Membership site
B- Anabolic Oatmeal  (E)  Original book/Membership site
L-  Golden Chana Soup (E) Cookbook/Membership site
S- Popcorn (E)
D-  Burrito Bowls (E) Membership site

B-  Berrytastic Smoothie (S)  Membership site
L-   Spanish Rice Quinoa  with side salad (E)

B-  Baked Blueberry Oatmeal (E)  Membership site
L-  Mozzarella and Turkey Toast with side salad (E)  Original book/Membership site
D-  Blackened Chicken with Mango and Black Beans (E) Cookbook/Membership site

B-  Apple Cinnamon Breakfast Cake  (E) Membership site
S-  Anti-inflammatory Smoothie  (FP)  Membership site -OR- Detoxifying Smoothie (FP)
D- Alfredo Beef and Broccoli (S)  Original book/Membership site
B-  Eggs and Bacon (S)
S-  Big Boy Smoothie (FP)  Original book/Membership site
D-  Egg Roll in a Bowl (S)  Cookbook/Membership site

B-  Cinnamon Special Agent Cake (S) Membership site
L-  Cranberry Pecan Salmon Salad (S) Membership site
D-  Burgers with cheese, sauteed cabbage and roasted sweet potatoes (crossover)