Easter at home

With the way things have been going, it feels good to spend an Easter at home.Only one day of slight travel (across town) to my sister’s on Friday. She is hosting for the  first time. Sadly her kids couldn’t be there, the were with their dad, but it was fun all the same. My older kids haven’t spent much time with Aunty Jen since before she got married and Tweedle 3 can count the number of times he has seen her on one hand. Circumstances being what they are, she is finally free to enjoy the love of her family again. So we celebrated anyway. She looks so much happier and healthier. Sure things are hard and they will be for a while but if it’s right, then it’s right. The only one who can know if it’s right is her and her Heavenly Father.

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Yesterday (Saturday) we had the opportunity to clean the church. I know it’s weird but my kids love to clean the church and I figure I had better take them up on that. The certainly aren’t learning to clean all that well at home (it’s getting better) so they can learn at the church, where the company is good. My sister has a saying anything is fun if you have your friends. We were on vacuum duty and the boys helped clean surfaces. After the church we settled on colouring eggs and then a movie. Rio 2. Tweedle 3 would probably give the movie *****. There were things that I liked but it was kind of weird. I know I’m not their target market so I’m sure it’s fantastic. I would give it ***.

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Today, we got bunnied and then we went to church. Following church we rolled eggs. I know egg rolling isn’t that popular but the Mad Hatter told me today he only knows that my family rolls eggs. This couldn’t possibly be so. I took an informal poll and so far, through third hand, one other family that isn’t related to me on my dad’s side rolls eggs. Surely it’s more popular than that. Oh well. It’s what we do. That’s how we roll.

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Human lab results and a new experiment.

So I tried the oil cleansing, retin-A and Greens plus to improve my skin. I liked the oil cleansing originally, but as the weeks passed not so much. It felt much greasier by the end of the day (even a month into it) and when I had breakouts they were worse. I read somewhere that one shouldn’t use olive oil and that might be part of the problem because it was in my combination, but in my defence other sites said I could use it and since I had it that is what I did.

As for the retin-A, I will keep using it. I like the turn over on my skin and I think it is improving.

Healthy Greens Beautiful Skin smoothie: I will continue to use it (at least until it is done) I’m not sure how it’s helping my skin, but (sorry for being blunt) it keeps me regular and that is also very satisfying.

The new thing I will be trying is DIY dry shampoo for dark hair. It only has two ingredients (that I have in my home). It can have more like cinnamon or essential oils to add smells, but I have never been big on smells.

 

Recipe for DIY Dry Shampoo for Dark Hair

2 tbsp Coarn Starch

2 tbsp Unsweetened Cocoa (you don’t want sugar, it attracts bugs)

Mix together in a air tight container. You can add 5 drops of oil or a bit of cinnamon. I didn’t. I am applying with an old powder brush at the roots scrubbing my fingers through and using a boar bristle brush to brush it through. We shall see how it helps me with my fine dark hair. And well, if it doesn’t work, I could always make cookies. I know that was gross. sorry.

 

 

My House Hunting meltdown is over…for now.

Husband has asked me to stop looking at the MLS system. It seems I have been a little hard to live with. I should probably stop listening to the news as well because they seem to either think there is an unsustainable bubble in the housing prices or that it’s so healthy that this will last a long time. In the meantime quotations of how this time is so like the market in 2006 are everywhere and well I can’t do anything about it.

I had faith, when I started, that my short laundry list of wishes would be met. Hey if anyone could do it God could do it. Lets just say my faith wavered and to protect my heart I need to listen to my husband. There is nothing I can do for the next while anyway.

Instead I will have a meltdown of a new kind. The in-laws are coming and I have been trying for the last week to get my kids to clean. Apparently I am a push over because they just kinda shrug me off and go about their business (games and tv ) as if I didn’t say a thing. I dole out punishments and take stuff away and still the house is a mess. I normally scream and yell into submission but that isn’t working and supposedly I gave yelling up for Lent. Ugh when is Easter? Stress Level is back to high now. Seriously though how did this happen? I used to wield so much power and now everything I say is taken like a suggestion, including when to eat.

Actually I have almost given up on having a clean house and decided that my in-laws will love me in spite of my children and my house. They have to, they are stuck with me. Actually they don’t have to, that too can be taken as a suggestion, but they are stuck with me.

One day, I will look back on this time and think man what was my problem? Or hopefully I will laugh. Sooner rather than later would be nice but maybe to help the way along I should take down a lucky nickel or quarter and use it in vegas. Gambling is so against every cell in my body but a quarter or a nickel wouldn’t hurt? Would it? I guess you can ask me again when I enter rehab.

Oh yeah, Husband and I are going to vegas soon. We have been married 16 years (that went fast) Gretchen Rubin says “the days are long, but the years are short” It’s so true, especially this week. Silly spring break has been hijacked by a persistent winter so the days have been terribly long and with that unproductive due to the aforementioned shrugging off of responsibilities. Don’t you just wish that sometimes you could give up all responsibilities? Perhaps this is my midlife crisis or my terrible coping mechanism to stress. Maybe I should take up running :P Again or better.

Clearly this is a stream of consciousness entry so maybe I should just end here before I say something stupid.

 

House Hunting Sucks

About a month ago I thought house hunting rocked. I enjoyed looking at peoples homes and the promise of something that would be our own and be where we wanted it to be was quite appealing. So fast forward to now. On friday I got a call from our realtor that he was setting up appointments for Saturday. Almost all the houses we wanted to see were already sold including one that was listed that morning. The signed were reminiscent of the early market days of 2006 (coincidentally another immediately post flood year). Back then housing prices were pretty much going up $1000/day. A nice average home (that we were looking at back then ) went for around $260,000 now they go for $450+. It’s really sick. Anyway we were obviously priced out of the market in a like a month back then. Never mind The Mad Hatter was going to school.

So Yesterday, with this thought in my mind, I am feeling the pressure and realizing that for what we need, we can’t get where we want. We travel to what feels like an eternity away to look at houses. Enter our first open house. Walk into a large home with a beautiful view that smell of cigarette smoke. The carpet on all levels seems like it has lived an eventful life. I want to do some work on a house but I don’t think I’m ready for a full gut. Anyway we walk in and like 10 couples are leaving. The realtor pipes up that he already has 2 offers and the way the day has been going, it reminds him of 2006.

I figuratively wanted to through up right then and there. I literally wanted to cry but didn’t. You see it takes me months and many visits to buy a pair of shoes for $40 and now I’m asked to drop $XXX,XXX amount in an area I don’t want to live (because we can’t afford where we are) and to do it in hours. If I don’t we could be priced out of the market again. This goes against every cell in my body. We saw one more house after and it was nice. There was some weird stuff about it but a lot I liked. When we got in the car to go home The Mad Hatter asked me what I thought and I just started to cry. I cried because I don’t want to leave friends. And I mostly cried because of all the work I have done at the school and now I get to rip my children away from what few friends they have. We didn’t make an offer but I see the writing on the wall. I need a miracle. My one rich uncle died years ago and we didn’t see a thing so I’m doubtful. Oh my heart hurts right now.

I couldn’t go home right away as I was afraid I would loose it in front of the kids. So I made Husband and I go check out the Lindt Store that is near our house cause chocolate cures everything (well almost everything) and who knows, this may be the last time I get to go to it.

Resolution Check Up

It is almost the end of the first quarter and I am checking in to see how I am doing. I think I resolved, sort of, to do something to better myself.

1. I think the first one I wrote down was a weekly savings plan. I think we are chronologically on week 12. Savings wise, I’m a little behind, but I still am saving. It’s really the act of saving that I am trying to develop and the chart is helping. Now that I have a printer I can finally check off what I have done because I finally printed the chart. Charts are important, they show progress.

2. I have been baking. A lot more than I have in the past so yay me. However now I have been eating more. Boo me. I have put on some weight and it’s not entirely because of what I have been baking but I’m sure it doesn’t help. This week I took a bit of a break as things have gotten significantly busier, but I will probably get back to it. I just need to have more self control … and a hiding place plan so that I forget that I baked. I am enjoying making the bread. It feels like such an accomplishment when I am done.

3. Weights was another thing. I have been doing it and I have been feeling a bit stronger. I have also had a bit of an exercise epiphany and when I wrap my head around it I think I will be changing up what I regularly do. I am of a certain age and things that may have worked for me in the past may put too much stress on my body and consequently having the opposite affect.

4. Being prayerful has been hard. I love sleep and I have all these due dates, but I am acknowledging there are more blessings in my life. There have definitely more opportunities to say prayers, and I feel more guided, but I am not where I think I should be or giving what I think I should be. There is always room for improvement. Am I more prayerful? Probably yes. This is one that I need to work on more.

Raspberry Chocolate Banana Bread

Its been cold. Not only outside but in my home too. Not as bad in the past but still. If one is wearing a hat all day and under 2-3 blankets just to get warm there is a problem. My body wants to put on insulation. I can’t believe how much I am craving the carbs right now. And it’s not even the good carbs. I want white flour and white sugar. Normally a hearty vegetable soup is on the menu or some  delicious chilli, but not now. I want cookies, muffins, bread, and cake. I almost never bake because I know that is a weakness.

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I have some theories as to why this is happening.

1. It’s cold and my body feels it and wants to put on insulation

2. I love Chocolate

3. Sugar is the quickest way for my body to get energy when it needs it.

4. Sugar also causes me to go into a coma like state where I want to sleep all day long under a blanket, thus conserving my energy

5. Baking turns on my oven and my oven makes my house warmer.

6. My Sister has been going through a stressful time and consequently I am stressed so I eat.

7. Have I mentioned I am cold.

8. My my go to comfort food is baked goods

Ok enough complaining. And lets get to the food. There is something great about banana bread, especially or singularly homemade banana bread. I don’t like most store bought banana bread. It tastes fake. Fake banana is gross. It starts off a little “sweet”, then you say “I think thats banana”, and then your like “nope, it not.” Then sadly that taste stays with you because there is some sort of oil that coats your mouth. Yuck.

So I stick to homemade banana bread. Even the Jessica Sienfeld cauliflower banana bread is better than factory bread.  Today I have a proven winner. Bananas, chocolate and raspberries. Please note that this is not a low calorie version, but it does have whole ingredients (aside from the white flour and chocolate chips, cause I want white flour and chocolate chips right now ). It is seriously delicious and makes fantastic muffins.

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Banana Bread - adapted from a recipe found on food.com by licked_cupcake

2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup organic coconut palm sugar
4 tablespoons softened butter
2 eggs (room temperature)
3 overripe bananas, mashed
1/3 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup dark semisweet chocolate chunks (I prefer the Safeway select jumbo chips if making a loaf)
1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
1 tablespoon flour

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F Spray a 9×5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.

3. Cut raspberries in half, then toss them with 1 tbsp flour. If frozen break them apart. Or if your lazy like me just leave it.

4. In a separate large bowl, beat the sugar and butter with an electric mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 1 minute). Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the banana, yogurt, and vanilla; beat until blended. Stir in the flour mixture; just until moist. Don’t over-mix. Stir in the chocolate chunks and then gently stir in the raspberries.

5. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 60 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 15 minutes in the pan on a wire rack. Remove from pan and cool completely on the wire rack.

Just note: I had my loaf in for 50 minutes and it was fine, but the original cook had hers in for 70 min. Make sure you watch your loaf. If you make muffins check it after 20 minutes.

Below is a link to the original recipe.

Read more: <a href=”http://www.food.com/recipe/dark-chocolate-raspberry-banana-bread-501767?oc=linkback”>http://www.food.com/recipe/dark-chocolate-raspberry-banana-bread-501767?oc=linkback</a&gt;

Skin Deep

You know what the difference between your thirties and your twenties is? When you look at pictures you can see you would look the same if you just had a really good nap.

Do you know what the difference between your thirties and your forties is? WRINKLES.

And loss of skin tone which manifests itself as wrinkles. I’m told it only gets worse.And what you would use to combat wrinkles makes my acne bad.

In most skin care lines that I have looked at it’s an either or situation. You choose what is bugging you the most and treat that. For the past two years it has ton back and forth. I need to treat my acne. Ugh my wrinkles are terrible. Now my acne is bad again. I have half full bottles of everything and I look the worse for wear.

My Aunt said Don’t worry you can cover anything with good makeup, but honestly I don’t think you can.

For the past 2 years I have been researching different treatments to help me out. I even bought a groupon for a Microderm abrasion treatment, but then chickened out just before because I managed to find a few people who had a terrible reaction and their skin suffered greatly. It still isn’t the same.

I think about doing laser or taking acutain or all those other things but what it comes down to is money, pain and irreparable damage. Thats what keeps me from doing more than skin care line after skincare line.

A part of me just wishes I could go to the Capital (in the Hunger Games) and get all buffed out to beauty base 0 and start all over. I bet you thats what microderm is.

Anyway I have come across three things I am willing to give a good solid try. Hopefully they will improve things ar at least one will. I’m going to try some Oil Cleansing, retinol and Healthy Skin greens+.

Tonight is Day 2 of Oil cleansing. I am using a combination of Olive oil and Caster oil. I massage the 1:1 ratio in my hand then onto my face. I then use a very HOT clean cloth, let it steam in and then remove the oils. Thats it. Last night my skin felt good and I woke with less inflammation (I had a really big pimple on my cheek for the last 3 days) Tonight it feels a little oily, but I don’t see anymore blackheads than normal. I hear it takes a while for your skin to adjust so I hope it isn’t bad.

After my skin is dry I apply a pea size of a retinol prescription that I have been on for a bit. I only apply this at night. I do see a bit of a quicker turn over of skin but I’m not sure if it’s really helping with the acne.

Tomorrow I will have my first Healthy Skin Greens+ smoothie. I have been thinking about starting on some greens+ for a while now, but then I usually say if I just east more veggies, especially greens, I wouldn’t need this. The fact is lately I have a hard time getting any veggies in. This is strange for me because I usually love my fruits and vegetable but I have been craving carbs like they were on a short supply and having a hard time limiting it. So I broke down and bought it. 

I am a little nervous about trying so many things at once but that just shows you how desperate I am. I’ll try to keep posted on the progress. I’m hoping all of it works. I don’t want to be twenty or even 30 again but I do want to look well rested and tighter. Fingers crossed.

 

Elementary

Perhaps the only personal conflict I have RIGHT NOW is with my oven, but I have overcome. I have replaced the bottom element in my stove. The mad hatter helped. He took the element out last night so really we are a team. Anyway after a dead drill, a drive to a local appliance supply shop, $35, and some bandaids. The oven is back together and I turned it on to see if it heated up. It did and nothing blew up so Yay.

So in honour of my womanish triumph:

I was going to put in I am woman hear me roar but I don’t really like that song. I do but I don’t, not musically anyway.

Anyway just some housekeeping tips:

This is the second time our element in our oven has fried since we moved here. The first being shortly after. So I asked the guy at the parts story why cause in all my living life I have never had to replace an element let alone twice (in five years). He said it’s probably because of oven cleaner that has gotten on the burner. I laughed because I can’t remember the last time I cleaned my oven, but anyway the chemical eats away and makes it week. So if your going to clean your oven, make sure you don’t get any on the elements.

This also got me thinking. a couple of years ago I had an appliance guy come and fix the burners on about 3 different tenant stoves. All within the same month. I asked why does this happen and he said because when people are cleaning and pull out the burners there are two rubber insulators at the bottom of the prongs. sometimes in the act of pulling the burners out the insulators move up and aren’t insulating what they need to anymore. so if your going to clean under your burners, make sure you push the rubber insulator things down as far as they will go without too much resistance before you put them back in. You should then be fine.

How ironic that cleaning can wreck your stove, but now you know how to do it properly and I’ve just saved you at least $95. You’re Welcome.

 

Changing The Theme

So for the past year-ish I have had “I can do hard things” up on my blog. I was looking for something more meaningful as I had finally reached a stage where I thought I had more time. The truth is I have the same amount of time I just had different things to do. Well, the universe must have taken that as a challenge because I have pushed through some comfort zones and done and are still dealing with things I have never thought I would have to deal with. It was a good reminder, but I am thinking I need to go back to something a little more light. I have the “I can do hard things” mantra down. I have said it many times even when I haven’t been blogging. I will still use it, when necessary.

Since one of my goal is taking on a little more cooking, baking and frankly battling the area of food, I will change it.

Resolved or At Least Thinking About It.

 

How is that for commitment? Hmmm maybe that should be my resolution, making a decision and committing. Maybe. Anyway. I don’t like the idea of resolutions and yet I do. I like having a marked set of time, a measurable deadline to which one could be held accountable. I don’t like new years resolutions because everyone else is doing them and then not doing them. I don’t want my goals lost in the noise and because no one else is doing them, feel no drive to complete them. I don’t want to be a lemming. This need to not be one of the crowed has often kept me from doing things that would probably be good for me or enjoyable and yet I crave blending in and not being apart of a spotlight. It must be really hard to be me, but I don’t know anything else so….

Back to the goals.

1. Save Money: My last post was a chart that has a plan to save a significant amount of money. Already put my $1 in an account last week. So far so good.

2. Bake More: This one goes again almost every cell that is in my body. I have a fear that if I bake I will eat it, but after spending $200 in the last 3 days (not a regular shopping run) I need to do it. My kids (2 teenage boys and a growing 6 year old) are eating in such volumes that I cannot afford to run to the store to save time to buy snacks so that they can be filled. I also believe that if I save more where the food is concerned then we can have some exciting experience.

3. Start Lifting weights: Last year was a milestone birthday. I went to the doctor for a checkup and she came in and told me my warranty was up. I thought it was funny…sort of. Anyway she is a bit older than me so I guess she would know. I have read and anecdotally found that as you get older the ability to get to a healthy weight by burning cardio disappears. I also hate milk and I need to fight osteoporosis to heavy lifting is my plan. I had an assessment done. I am lucky that I can trade favours for this personal training. Today I don’t go to yoga because my legs (inner thighs) hurt so bad and I’m running tomorrow hopefully. I’m a little nervous that my actually work out will leave me unable to walk.

4. Be more Prayerful: I have been spiritually coasting, it feels like, for the last while. I’m a believer but I kind of feel more of an acquaintance relationship with my maker than I would like. I want to feel more. I would like to turn more over to the Saviour. He has asked my to do it and promised burdens will be lighter and who doesn’t want that?

So these are my hopes for the next year. If I added more I think that I would be setting myself up for failure. I am worried this might be too much but I’m going to be kind to myself and if I run to the store to quickly get some muffins because I didn’t have time to make food, I’m going to cut myself some slack.