Tuesday, October 30, 2012


What happened to manners? I grew up with typical parents and learned manners. It was imbedded in us to have good manners, to be polite, treat others like you would want to be treated, and to just be kind to others.

I remember taking a class in high school and they taught proper telephone etiquette, how to introduce others by using their names, shake hands with a firm grip, formal letter writing, and so many other valuable pearls of wisdom. At the time I thought it was rather silly, but I learned some really great life lessons in this class that I still use daily.

I still write hand written notes on stationary. When I write, it is so much more heartfelt than writing a text or an email. I know when I receive a personal note in the mail I am thrilled, but it doesn't happen too often.

I try to instill these traits in my girls, but it is so difficult when we live in 2012. This has become a society of no manners, no morals, no values, and people just don't care. One of the main reasons I believe in manners is that it teaches respect of self and others.

Please, thank you, a smile, a nice gesture, holding the door open for someone, returning the grocery store basket to the basket corral, letting someone in your driving lane, are all things I do routinely and am laughed at for. Why? It is kind. It is thoughtful. It is good manners. Is being kind, thoughtful, and good mannered a bad thing? Heck no!

I try to lead by example when it comes to my children and this is one area where I somewhat shine. Granted my kids aren't the best mannered kids, but they do have manners. Here's a funny example: my eldest daughter used to be friends with a classmate, but over time the classmate's true colors have shined. SG says she isn't really friends with her any longer because she doesn't have manners. Looking for my reason I asked why and was told, "she's mean, she takes things without asking, she uses mean words, she lies, and ..." the list goes on. That makes me feel good like I have taught SG something.

Another thing I have taught the girls since they could scribble is to write thank you notes. No, they don't particularly like to, but they do it. When birthdays and holidays come around they now ask me for the note cards so they can write. My hope is that they will find joy in it as opposed to being a chore. When they see the flip side and receive a thank you note or other piece of correspondence they are thrilled.

So, go out and be kind and use your manners. Remember that what comes around goes around. All those manners, good words, and kindness will be returned to you!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Piano 101

My two oldest daughters currently take piano lessons. They don't excel too much because their lives are so busy and not much time for practice. Secretly, I want to take piano lessons, too. When they are not home, I go through their books and learn as much as I can.

Today I decided I would look for some free and easy Christmas carol sheet music online. I scored! I found several pieces we like. The funny thing is that I really don't know the notes too well, but I know the solfège and the note number.

I just found myself running to find a pencil so I could write the note number and solfège over each note. I am sure one day I will learn what each note truly is. In the meantime, I am off to learn some Christmas carols on piano!

Take Your Calcium

Lately I have been feeling so tired. Not just any tired, but falling asleep at 8:00 in the evening and waking up 9 hours later feeling exhausted. It doesn't matter what amount of sleep I get I still feel like a Mac truck hit me. I have been doing the normal things like checking my blood pressure which is in normal limits, drinking enough fluid, and eating well. So, I find myself baffled as to why I still have no energy.

Then it hits me this morning. I have ALL the red flags of Hypocalcemia (low blood calcium).
1. extremely dry skin, flaky, almost psoriasis-like
2. extremely tired, fatigued
3. brittle nails with ridges
4. palpitations
5. sharp chest pain
6. numb finger tips
7. muscle spasms in my face (tetany) by left side of my mouth
8. shortness of breath (talking and walking)
9. dizziness, especially when getting up from seating or lying position
10. muscle spasms and cramps to feet and lower legs
11. dementia or what we like to call CRS (can't remember sh*t)

Now I am determining what course of action I need to take. Do I just taking adequate amounts of calcium through supplements and food rich in calcium or do I call the doctor and get my blood level checked?

I think I am going to start off by taking supplements I have now and then call the doctor to check my level. It didn't get like this overnight so I know it won't be corrected overnight either. My extreme dry skin should have been a warning sign.

I am off to eat some calcium and get my blood drawn.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Day 23 of the October Unprocessed Food 2012 Challenge

Today is day 23 of the October Unprocessed Food Challenge 2012. It has been going well except for the weight loss I had. I had no intention of loosing weight, but I did. I started off at about 128 pounds (5' 8") and went as low as 119 pounds. Somehow I was able to regain it back and am at a more stable 124 pounds.

It seems your body uses what it needs. Not eating all that other stuff has made me feel much better. I just have to remember to stay hydrated. We had a catered party at our house on Saturday, October 13 and I think I gained back everything I lost by default from eating what was available at the party. That was my cheat day.

I have learned to eat my veggies and even to tolerate green drinks. Still not a fan of the green drink, more so because the color than the taste, but I am drinking them occasionally. My cravings for sweets has gone away completely. I usually suffer with chronic back pain which has been minimal to nonexistent. What I figure is that the foods I am eating now are more alkaline which shifts my pH level to a more normal level. It is great being in that normal pH range. Obviously there is less internal inflammation.

This past weekend we went out of town which was rather challenging. I did bring some unprocessed food, but it wasn't enough. I succumbed to a Mexican restaurant and sandwiches. I am now paying for it. I am not sure what I am reacting to, but it is either the PB&J sandwich or turkey cold cut sandwich on honey wheat or anything from the Mexican restaurant. My legs from hips to my ankles have broken out in a rash and chicken-like raised bumpy skin. This used to happen to me often, but since becoming more conscious of what I eat, I am more mindful and thought I had an idea of what causes it.

I have had allergy testing and no foods come up. All of the standards like nuts, wheat and dairy are negative. Therefore they tell me I am imagining this and I have folliculitis. This food challenge has proven to me that I have not had folliculitis since I was a kid. My thought is that it is either the bread or cheese (dairy) that I react to.

Eight more days to go! This should be rather easy to maintain beyond the challenge permitting I cook most everything. The girls have been enjoying this month since I have been cooking and baking more often.

The kids have adapted fairly well, although they are not 100% unprocessed, yet. My oldest gets why I am doing this and the two younger ones just tolerate it. We live in a society that eats horribly. They are always tempted by their school peers. Their school lunches are much different from their peers. I could go on for hours about the lunches that the school provides, but I won't. I am just happy to say my kids think it tastes bad and want me to send lunch each day.

Waking up to Biscuits

I had this really great idea I would wake up early this morning and make biscuits. I followed a recipe from my Kitchen Aid mixer cookbook. I substituted whole wheat flour for all purpose flour. With my experience baking with whole wheat flour, things tend to be drier than usual so I added a wee bit more almond milk and honey.

The out come is still dry (yet not as dry as usual). What can I do to make my whole wheat creations less dry? Any help would be appreciated. The recipe called for it to bake for 12-15 minutes. I set my timer for 12 minutes which was way too long. As you can see from the picture below, they were cooked a few minutes too long.

I just hope the kids like them!

The kids LOVED these biscuits. I thought they were way too dry but they loved them. Maybe they liked them so much because I used Halloween shapes.

The next day I used a Better Homes and Gardens recipe for drop biscuits. These were so much better and moist. My kids had them for breakfast, snack, and dinner. They could not get enough of them. Lucky for me I made a large batch to accommodate all the biscuit needs. MM asked, "so, what's your secret ingredient to make these the best?" I love it when the kids are this passionate about something they eat (especially when it is not candy or junk food).

Monday, October 22, 2012

My Little Garden

So, here it is...my little garden. 

I am so thrilled that everything is still alive. I planted the lettuce and parsley on October 2 and it has been 20 days. That is rather impressive to me that there is that much lettuce already grown. The parsley just started to sprout a couple of days ago. Maybe I do have a green thumb after all.

If I continue to have success, I will certainly consider planting more (especially herbs).

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Pop-tarts, Whole Food Style

My kids LOVE Poptarts. The only problem is that they are not the healthiest snack item. In addition, there are so many ingredients and things inside my kids can't even pronounce. This is when I went on a hunt for toaster pastry recipes.

Granted they are not very pretty, but they sure were good. There is certainly lots of room for improvement, but it is certainly a good starting point. 

Here's what is inside the Kellogg's Pop-Tarts:

Now, here's what's in mine:
  • 2 ¼ cup whole-wheat flour, plus extra for rolling out the dough
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup cold, unsalted butter (2 sticks)
  • ½ cup water plus ice
  • 1 egg beaten with a splash of water
  • 7 – 8 tablespoons jam or jelly (I used all fruit spread)
That's it and nothing more!
I adapted the recipe from 100 Days of Real Food. Give it a try. I think you will like it.

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Little Gardening

I decided to plant a few things this autumn and can't wait to post the pictures. I wanted to wait a few days before taking after pictures. It is so surprising how quickly they have sprouted.

The girls and I planted seeds for two types of lettuce, parsley, and coffee. It is a start. We hope to plant some herbs in the near future and other vegetables. Since this is so new to me, I am still trying to figure out what I can and cannot plant this time of year in the south.

Lucky for me there is the LSU AgCenter. They have been such a great resource. They were at New Orleans City Park's Fall Garden Show. There was so much to see and learn. Probably the only reason I am growing lettuce and parsley is because they offered free seeds. So, thank you LSU AgCenter for those seeds!

Pictures will be posted hopefully in the next week or so.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Day 9 of the October Unprocessed Food 2012 Challenge

Here I am at the end of Day 9 of the October Unprocessed 2012 Challenge. So far so good. Some days are a breeze and others are not such a breeze. Breakfast seems to be the most difficult meal for me to prepare. We have been a cereal family when it comes to breakfast. This is going to be the hardest thing to wean from my kids. They LOVE cereal. They eat it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack time.

I was eating grits the first 2 days for breakfast, but got tired of it really fast. I thought to make oatmeal, but I never have the time in the morning. Therefore my go to breakfast has been an apple. It probably isn't enough, but I am getting something healthy in my body.

I have noticed little to no food cravings. Sweet cravings is what I used to always have, but not anymore. I have been snacking on almonds and carrots when I get an urge to nibble on something during that 3:00 P.M. crash time.

I have been eating more salads and just about daily. I even starting eating spinach! To eats greens is one thing, but to drink them is another. I have been looking into juicing, but there is something about drinking greens I just can't get past. I bought 2 different store bought green drinks. I drank them but had (what felt like) a crazy I can't believe I am drinking this stuff look on my face. Maybe with time I will get over my fear of drinking greens, but in the meantime I will try to drink juice that has another hue.

My kids are finally getting what I am doing; maybe not 100%, but I think they are getting it. I have been sleeping better. So much better that I don't want to wake up. I have not slept this well in ages... like before kids 8 years ago.

The only down side of eating whole, real, unprocessed food is that I am loosing weight. I am 5'8" and am down to 125 pounds. I think it is on the slimmer side of what I should be. I am more comfortable in the 127-129 range. I know you are going to think, but that is only 2 pounds, but it is actually 5 pounds over the last 6 weeks since I have been more mindful of my food. I am having to pin and belt my pants which is rather frustrating. I am figuring I am just not eating enough or my body is adjusting to eating and using what it needs.

My next goal with eating well is to start exercising. I just wish I could find the time.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Fight Like a Girl

I just want to send a shout out to my mother and all of the other breast cancer survivors. Hopefully we will have a cure soon. Until then, fight the fight and be strong. We are here to support you!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Oh Cereal, How I Miss Thee

I miss my morning cereal...Quaker Oat Squares, Frosted Mini Wheat. I haven't found the right unprocessed food to fill your void. I had plain grits most mornings but not sure that is acceptable. Today I had grapes, but I sure do miss my cereal.

I have no problem figuring out what to eat for lunch or dinner, but breakfast I am clueless. I need some unprocessed breakfast divine intervention.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

What are you Eating?

We are not eating food, we are eating food-like products. Have you read the ingredients of your food today? Most of us just read calories and fat grams. We forget to look at what we actually put in our mouths. There are so many artificial ingredients in everyday foods we eat. Can you pronounce what's on the label? Is it something you can get out the garden? Does it have 5 ingredients or less? Just a thought about what we eat.

I have become more and more passionate about this topic. I feel like we as Americans need to wake up when it comes to food. Do you really know what you are eating? I read most every single food label I purchase. It is troublesome knowing that there are so many chemically engineered products in our food. What percentage of our food is truly natural whole food?

I am on day three of eating unprocessed foods. It is going well, but I had a few cravings on day one. It is just incredible to me that some of the everyday things such as taco seasoning has so much other stuff. I did allow an exception which is bread. It is something I don't eat much of and am not willing to bake it at this point. There is a bread bakery uptown which I may check out Thursday.