Personal Encouragement

Food Budgeting: Spending my calories wisely!

Layered taco salad

Raised by frugal parents, it's easy for me to put finances into a budget plan. I've found I need to think of my daily food intake as a budget as well, measured in calories.

When I had no idea how many calories I was consuming in a day, it was easy to just keep eating (and gaining). I didn't know how many calories I even needed per day, so if I was hungry, I ate. And I even ate when I wasn't hungry. (Cheesecake beckons at all hours!)

I had to ask myself, "Am I eating right now simply because I enjoy the taste of this food, or am I enjoying delicious food while satisfying hunger and nourishing my body?" There's nothing wrong with thoroughly enjoying every bite, but that enjoyment needs to be coupled with meeting my body's needs, not burdening it with excess.

Quick steps to a calorie budget:

1. Figure out your daily calorie needs. I used an online calorie calculator using my weight, height, gender, and activity level. Since I'm breastfeeding, I added an additional 300-500 calories to my "budget".

2. Keep track of your spending. I always cringe at the words "counting calories" but I've found again and again that keeping track of the calories I consume is the only way for me to maintain a healthy weight loss. I wrote more about calorie counting in this post, including a calorie-breakdown of our homemade pizza.

When I only have ~2,000 calories to spend each day, I start thinking of some "frugal foods" to eat!

Bananas, at about 100 calories each, remain one of my favorite breakfast foods. They're also a quick snack, and seem to give a lot of energy from those calories! Apples are another favorite.

In-the-shell peanuts are one of my favorite protein snacks. I know peanuts are very high-calorie, so we buy the ones in the shell. Shelling them takes time, so I get to enjoy them more! A half-cup of peanuts (in the shell) is 170 calories. And not surprisingly, those 170 calories really fill me up! (For an hour or so...)

I also love roasted almonds. You may laugh, but I have figured out that our almonds (from Costco) have an average of 7 calories in each. Sometimes I finish the day with  ~50 calories left over, and I "spend" the rest on almonds! Other days, I end up going to bed a little hungry, but I know it's okay since I know how much food I consumed that day.

Shredded cheese on my salads is another way to make a salad seem more like a full meal. I usually opt for mozzarella cheese rather than cheddar, since it's only 80 calories per ounce rather than 110!

What are your favorite foods that give "bang for the buck"? :)

Layered taco salad

Crystal has a guest post with frugal weight loss ideas on her blog, Money Saving Mom.

I especially resonate with "Go Outside"! As a mom of energetic, growing children, I know they need the fresh air and exercise just as much as I do! As I ease back into "everyday life" (yes... the babymoon has to end at some point, right?) it's my goal once more to take the children outside every single day.

A couple of my favorite "free" weight loss tips:

Drink plenty of water!

Get enough sleep!

And on that note, it is time for me to feed a little boy and head to bed myself! :)

P.S. My original weight-loss post, which I still re-read for inspiration can be found here!

Some things, but never all things!

Eliyahu on his birthday

Birthday dinner for Eliyahu last week (with chocolate cake and homemade pizza!): Check!

Dinner ready on time most evenings: Check!

School work done, laundry clean, bills paid, house picked up and semi-clean: Check!

Enough sleep at night (or supplemented with naps!): Check!

Turning on the computer and blogging: Ummmmm. :|

This also means that if you've emailed me in the past, oh, 6 months or so... it's probably buried in my inbox. I want to make the time for blogging and answering a few emails (at least!) but I've just not figured out how to manage all that while still going to bed on time!

It seems there is always something more that I could (and probably even should!) be doing... so life remains the tricky balance of trying to do the best I can in the most important things. :)

Challah for 'Erev Shabbat

Challah recipe
Challah, a traditional Sabbath's Eve bread

I love challah! Beautiful. Sweet. Soft (when fresh!). Fun to braid. Delicious to eat!

I baked challah this morning, something I haven't made since before summer. Even though Sabbath hasn't started yet (tonight), the children and I pulled off a few pieces of fresh warm challah for a mid-morning snack. :)

Challah recipe

We all watched this video (again!) to refresh my memory of exactly how to do the 6-strand braid, which makes a loaf like the one pictured above. It's not difficult to make, and I love the extra-special look! :)

Challah recipe

Challah really does taste as wonderful as it looks!

Challah recipe

A day of rest, a reminder of our Creator, His creation, and His deliverance. Sabbath is sweet, with or without challah! :)

Shavuot celebration cookies!

Cut-Out Biscuit Cookie recipe

Happy Shavuot! We made Hebrew Alphabet cookies to celebrate. Joshua created these Cut-Out Biscuit Cookies, dipped them in chocolate, and they're so pretty!

We used our Hebrew alphabet cookie cutters, which were a gift from Joshua's parents. So fun!

We'll be taking a bunch of cookies to church this afternoon, where we're meeting for a Bible study about Ruth! :) I hope you all have a blessed weekend! :)

Fresh herbs and more

Fresh herbs!

We had the priviledge of spending yesterday with a local reader and her family. While our husbands talked and our children played, she took me out to her herb gardens and clipped some fresh, fragrant herbs to send home with us!

Dried herbs just don't compare to fresh. In the same way, fellowshipping face-to-face is always such a breath of "freshness" to me! :)

Fresh herbs!

When we moved "out west", we left many dear friends and family. It makes me extra thankful for the new friends and fellowship we find where we are now. :)

This morning, I snipped some fresh oregano, thyme, and I can't remember what else, on and around a chicken for roasting. Was it lavendar, or sage? Or both? I just went by smell. "What smells like it would go well on chicken?" That's the best way anyway. :)

Last week, I really felt like I was living in a rainforest! Our windows are surrounded by beautiful green trees. My clothesline looked like this probably 4 days in a row! :)

But, the past few days have been beautifully sunny. Today, the children and I are planning to head out on our first hunt. Exciting! :)

Morning productivity

After gleefully declaring at the beginning of this week: Setting a wake-up time is going to be a lot easier for me than setting a bed time was!

...I find it ironic that my motivation for actually getting things done has been at an all-time low (compounded by a toe injury, something I've done before).

What are your best tips for pulling out of a slump?

A number of my solutions in the past (including my favorite one: ask my mom if she'll watch the children for half or more of the day while I get back on my feet!) are no longer possible, so I'm trying to pull tricks out of my current proverbial hat while channeling the extreme energy of two young boys and a toddling little girl. :)

Some of the things that help energize me:

  • making tea
  • organizing and getting rid of stuff
  • getting outside with the children
  • hanging out laundry
  • vacuuming
  • cleaning the bathroom
  • listening to music

I also recently got my hair cut (12 inches! Thanks, Joshua!).

Edited to add: Here is what my hair looks like now. See what I mean about boring? :) Yehoshua took this picture this morning. :)

Minus 12 inches looks like this!

I washed my hair before bed, didn't comb it at all, and woke up with this. I love waves and I love that shorter hair means so many fewer tangles! I liked my long hair before, too, but since my hair is very fine along with being really thick, it was a bit of work to maintain. I prefer to spend just a couple minutes a day on my hair, besides washing it twice a week. :)

Almost time!

I'll be busy today finishing up the preparations for Passover (this evening) and a week of unleavened bread! :)

I'm planning to serve a menu similar to this one from last year. Chocolate Caramel Covered Matzos is also an easy and yummy treat! :) I have more unleavened recipes that are special to us (but not yet on this website) that I hope to make throughout the week, as well. :)

Do you have anything special planned for Passover or the week of Unleavened Bread? :)

A few of the Finer Things

A few things I'm thankful for today:

Tea. Calming, warm, and tasty!

Homemade bread. I took three loaves out of the oven this afternoon.

A table full of delicious food. We are so blessed to never go hungry!

A fun story CD about a mole who is a violinist. (Very highly recommended!!) A favorite from childhood, now being enjoyed by my own children as they learn about music! :)

...and SO much more. :) What are you praising God for today? :)

Head over to Amy's blog for more posts about Finer Things in life! :)

It's happy and sad.

After seeing photos of our new home, a few readers wrote to me asking things like...

Are you able to hang laundry outside in your new location? ...I love to read your blog entries about laundry...

...I will miss those photos of your laundry flapping in the breeze and the photos of your days spent canning garden produce. I was wondering if you will miss that part of your life, too.

And you know what? I do miss those things.

Just this evening, Joshua said to me, "You know what I'm really gonna miss here in a couple months? Fresh asparagus."  I had totally forgotten that we won't have all-you-can-eat asparagus from my mom and grandmas' garden this year.

It was sad for me to leave my clothesline behind. Seems silly but my clothesline has been therapeutic for me through many different seasons of the year -- and of life.

I did bring my wooden drying rack and my Tibbe line, and have hopes of utilizing the balcony for drying purposes when the sun decides to stay out more and the trees get all their leaves which will hopefully help with my undercover endeavors... ;) Just kidding; there's nothing in our lease about not putting laundry on the balcony. :)

And, due to several factors (including regulations on the moving truck, space in our car, and the pressure changes involved in driving through numerous mountain passes) I left all of my home-canned food with my mom. She is the one who gave us most of the food and spent many hours helping me can it, so really -- it was as much hers as it was ours anyway.

But anyway. It's tempting to think of all the things I left behind... a decent rental house where we spent 4 years of our lives and where two of our children were born into this world and the dining room didn't have carpet... a small yard, a garage, a front porch to sit on for picnics... a garden, compost bin, and lots of free food from friends and family who have gardens... getting to see my relatives... actually having a babysitter so my husband and I could go out for a few hours alone if we wanted... having a piano...

But, all too often we only remember the rosy parts of our past. You know?

Like, what about remembering how small our bathroom was and how very very steamy it got during even a quick shower... and that mold that never would go away around the bath tub? I have a dishwasher here... I don't have to trek down to an icky basement to do laundry... we have a church we get to attend every single week... oh, and the best part? My husband has a JOB here, and he doesn't even have to work midnights. Yeah, that's a pretty important detail. ;)

I don't feel sorry for myself, because I chose this life! I got to choose my husband (although I definitely felt and still feel that Yahweh totally brought us together as I cannot imagine a more perfect "other half"!). And we chose to move.

As tempting as it may be to just wallow in self-pity and sadness, we have to choose daily to step forward and do what Yahweh, our Creator, has set in front of us. He may be asking small things of us. Or it might be something monumental that we can only do in His strength.

We choose what kind of attitude we will display. We choose whether we will give our best and make the most of each day, or whether we will squander precious hours, days, even weeks wishing and daydreaming.

As Yehoshua (almost 5!) says about moving, "It's happy and sad. Happy because we get to live in Washington, but sad because we don't get to see Grandma any more."

Life is like that, isn't it? :) Let's keep plugging along! And thank you all so much for sharing the journey with me. :)

Sunrise... I hope :)

A Seattle sunrise
A sunrise? Well, at least it's light outside...

I hope we get to see the sun today. Seattle gets (on average) less rainfall each year than Ohio, but the number of overcast, damp days -- particularly in the Winter -- is significantly more.

Celestial Seasonings tea

Perfect weather for drinking tea, actually. And this Sweet Coconut Thai Chai tea from Celestial Seasonings is a new favorite! I don't usually add sweetener to my tea, but a spoonful of xylitol and a dash of milk make this chai super yummy. Back in October, Kroger had Celestial Seasonings tea for $1 a box -- a really great price which allowed me to restock some of our favorites and get a few new ones to try. :)

Ruth...

Ruth has the right idea...

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