Pumpkin Power Muffins

The Thanksgiving holiday may have passed for this year, but in my neck of the woods, pumpkins are still quite in season, spilling out of my pantry. I roasted my own pumpkins for the thanksgiving pies, though I have one little pumpkin I spared, as my 5-year-old begged me not to “kill it too.”

But it won’t stay out of the oven long, as I’ve finally perfected my pumpkin muffins: No oil, no refined sugar, all natural, 100% whole grain. Nutty and rich-tasting, sweet enough yet completely nourishing. The recipe I was looking for online but couldn’t find anywhere, so I developed it myself. Sweetened by dates blended with milk to create a delishious slurry stirred into the batter. It’s perfect for any pumpkin puree left over from holiday baking, I used them to fuel my thanksgiving preping last week, and I’m counting on them to get me started on busy December mornings. At 7g of protein each, one fuels me all morning. So get baking and stock them in your freezer to pull out as needed and heat in the mornings to get you through the cold months ahead…

no oil, no refined sugar, 100% whole grain, all natural, delicious and packed with antioxidents and phytochemicals...what I'll do with the rest of pumkin

Pumpkin Power Muffins

25 minutes

Number of servings: 12

Per Serving 258 calories

Fat 6 g

Carbs 49 g

Protein 7 g

12
  • 20 mejool dates (pitted)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 c. pecans (or your choice of nuts. this is the south, y'all. we use pecans, pronounced "Pee-cans" around here)
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cardamon
  • 1 3/4 tsp pupmkin pie spice blend
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup pureed pumpkin

Soak dates in milk 10 minutes, and preheat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and the spices until blended. Add eggs.

Blend the milk and soaked dates together well in a blender or food processor, then add to other ingredients. Mix well and pour into a 12 cup muffin pan.

Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until done.

Before you think to yourself: “Wow, dates. I’ve never cooked with those, don’t even know if my grocer carries them….” Just check near the raisens in the dried fruit and nuts section of your store. You’ll find them there. And don’t be afraid of them; they’re a luscious sweet dried fruit that lends the deep sweetness like that of caramel or brown sugar to your recipes. But they are packed with nutrients and fiber that make them a wonderfully natural and healthy option for sweetening.

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The Healthiest Scrumptous Breakfast Cookies

These helped me lose 50 pounds! Easy, whole food, no-sugar-added recipe.

Kitchen snapshopt of www.littleprogressnotes.com

This post is part of an October series about fitness, weight loss, and gluttony. To read all the posts in the series, see the index here.

I love portable whole-grain breakfasts for those days that we are in a hurry. I ran across the idea of these breakfast cookies over and over again in various online places, and finally came up with my own concoction that my kids seem to like and I feel good about feeding them! I made a big batch of them, and then froze a pile. In the morning before we headed out of the door, I nuked them in the microwave for maybe 15 seconds and they defrosted perfectly. Here’s the recipe:

Healthy Scrumptious Breakfast Cookies:

Ingredients:

3/4 cup uncooked old-fashioned oats, to grind into flour (I use a high speed blender, and measure before blending)

3/4 cup uncooked old-fashioned oats (not ground)

1/2 cup raisens or pitted dates

1/3 cup chopped nuts (I use pecans, becuase this is South Carolina and that’s what we grow here!)

2 and 1/2 ripe bananas

3/4 cup applesauce

1 tsp vanilla

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Measure the 3/4 cup of oats into the blender and process it until fine. Add the applesauce, ripe bananas, and half of the raisens/dates, and blend until creamy. Add vanilla and blend it in as well.

Use a spatula to scrape the mixture out of the blender into a bowl. Add remaining ingredients to the bowl and mix. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes so the oats can absorb a little moisture.

Drop the dough onto a lined cookie sheet by spoonfuls, shaping each into a cookie round. Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes.

 

This recipe can certainly be customized in almost unlimited ways, with a little experimentation. We can have pumkin variety for fall, maybe adding in some cinnamon for that. Or add some little chocolate chips for a little treat.

This post has been linked to Thrifty Thrusday at Living Well Spending Less !

 

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My Past Race Results

This post is part of an October series about fitness, weight loss, and gluttony. To read all the posts in the series, see the index here.

I’ve been thinking about how much I love road races and the fun surrounding them. They really give me focus and a goal in trying to improve my PR. I’m not a fast runner at all, as you can see from my previous race times. I finally looked up my old race times from the years I was in med school. I didn’t consider myself much of a runner, but so many friends were running the Cooper River Bridge Run, I think that’s what got me started running when I was in Charleston.

I had a gorgeous route I used to jog through downtown Charleston during my second and third years of med school. I lived downtown, and I’d take a road down to the old Battery and run all the way from the Coast Guard base along the waterfront, down past all those old mansions, and then into waterfront park. I’d loop through it and back down to Broad Street, and then head back across the peninsula along that quaint street past the gorgeous shops to my apartment, which was in a tall building overlooking the Ashley River. It was a great route, especially as the sun dipped down. The Cooper River would start to turn lavendar by the time I got over to Waterfront Park, and I’d just have so much to see and admire as I went.

I’ve definititely missed running the last couple months–but just a little over a week from now, I’ll be cleared to start back again. I do my best thinking and destressing while running.

 

2002 Cooper River Bridge Run, Charleston, SC 10K race time: 1:13:21

2002 Kiawah Island Half Marathon, Kiawah, SC Half Marathon race time: 2:51:44

2003 Cooper River Bridge Run, Charleston, SC 10K race time: 1:21:00

2005 Cooper River Bridge Run, Charleston, SC -walked this one in the rain- 10K race time 2:19:51

2011 Cooper River Bridge Run, Charleston, SC 10K race time 1:35:52

2012 Cooper River Bridge Run, Charleston, SC 10K race time 1:29:00 That year the race started over an hour late! We were so tired, hungry, and the sun was beating down by the time we finally started!

2012 Isle of Palms Connector Run, Isle of Palms, SC 10K race time 1:14:55

 

 

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Eat what is good

Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.

Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.

Incline your ear, and come to me; hear that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant…

-Isaiah 55:1-3

 

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Fit Friday {and the freezer cooking has begun}

It’s been a busy week of knocking everything off my To-Do list I can, just in case baby decides to arrive early. I realized last weekend that even though my babies have never wanted to come anytime before the 40th week, and in fact probably would have stayed in there until 43 weeks had they been permitted, my going into labor early is still possible. I had a good number of more intense but still completely irregular contractions Saturday, prompting me to prioritize those things on my list that are most important. So I tacked the nursery and washing the baby clothes and all those must-do things first. Then I hit some house projects that were almost-but-not-quite done and tied up all the loose ends.

I realized a major item on my list hadn’t even started to happen yet–the freezer cooking! Before I had baby #2, I managed to bank about 40 meals in our freezer. And it was a normal size freezer, not a deep one by any means! I was 2 weeks before my due date when I did all that cooking last time around, and enjoying the months that followed with a newborn was far easier when I didn’t have to do much cooking. Plus the pocketbook and the waistline benefitted from not ordering in or eating out.

So I grabbed a pile of library books this week that were filled with healthy ideas for freezer or crockpot {I figured I’d put some crockpot “kits” together and freeze them ready to pop in the slowcooker}. I also ordered “Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker” book, which I’d heard rave reviews about. It arrived yesterday and I spent the afternoon thumbing through all these books as well as my recipes and all that I’d pinned about freezer cooking, trying to come up with a plan. I hit the grocery store last night while my husband played with the kids {shopping for all I needed without the littles in tow was quite easier}, and he even unloaded everything for me when I got home!

I’m not sure how this always happens, but of course everything today took twice as long as I expected. I managed to crank out 7 whole-wheat vegetable-packed chicken pot pies, as well as 24 big twice-baked potatoes stuffed with caramelized onions and a little dubliner cheese. I shredded a pile of italian cheese for my planned pesto I’m going to finish with all the garden’s last basil. But once all that was done I just couldn’t do a bit more. My feet were in pain and my back was in pain and at least I’d remembered to put on compression stockings this morning before I started the whole ordeal. My little ones did well for a while, playing on our porch and inside and then I let them watch Ratatouille, but after lunch they kind of fell apart, and by the time I put them in their rooms for naps I was barely able to get the potatoes in the freezer before collapsing in the easy chair.

Driving me to finish several more mass quadrupling/freezing of other recipes is the notion that healthy meals are easier to make now than later with a crying hungry baby involved. So I’ve got tomato soup to finish, the pesto to process and freeze, and I’m still trying to decide on which crockpot kits to assemble. Then, next week I’m thinking I’ll have a italian day, where I make a pile of spinach lasagnas and gallons of marinara sauce along with a pile of lowfat meatballs. {I’d love to find some kind of vegan/vegetarian ‘meatball’ recipe, as I refuse to buy fake meatless meatballs but want to create something great without having to resort to turkey meatballs instead}.

My husband is going to put in the fall garden during his paternity leave, and if it turns out anything like last falls garden, it will supply us with piles of fresh salad greens and huge cabbages for soups–we had fresh salad every day we wanted them, and it went straight through the winter last year!! There is really nothing like picking your lettuces from your yard, washing them and eating them within an hour. You can’t buy that taste in any store, and it makes me crave greens just remembering…

 

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Fit Friday

At least I can say this week was an improvement on last week in terms of eating habits! Unfortunately, that’s largely because last week was rather bad, not that this week was ridiculously good. I’m remindd how important meal planning is–without it, a meal out occurs and those are just way too hard to maintain healthy choices at. Only keeping healthy, whole foods in my home is one of my best protections against poor eating choices, as well as overeating. They are the food full of healthy nutrients that don’t trigger addictive eating patters. It’s those junky foods with the triad of salt, sugar, and fat trigger the addictive endorphin cycle in the human brain that makes it very hard to stop eating them! So I’m really trying to keep those out of our home.

I really miss running at this point. I’m close the end of pregnancy and the weight of my uterus makes it hard to even walk a lot, because of pain at the old c-section sites likely because adhesions are stretching as the uterus grows. I also start lots of contracting (just Brackston-Hicks, not real labor) when I walk a lot too, and the feet swell up after a bit. But I’m eager to start running again as soon as I’m able after the baby arrives. I’ve decided for now to just use the double stroller we have (it’s a BOB so it’s awesome) even though there will only be one baby in there once he’s old enough. I just don’t want to get another stroller right now, but we’ll see how it goes, I might cave and get one so it’s easier to have in the back of the car.

I also picked up a copy of runner’s world last night. I love reading about running. I have a couple books I listed on my Book List which I’m finishing up that are running memoirs. If I can’t quit run yet, at least I can read about it. : )

 

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The Nesting List and Living in the Present

It's funny how sometimes I can be tricked into thinking that “real life” will start once I finish my To Do list. That once it is complete, I'll be able to relax and enjoy things like time with my little ones, good books, sitting and watching waves hit a shore. In the midst of a List, it can feel like those sorts of things are on hold until everything is crossed off, until the house is completely “done” (whatever that means), and the meals are planned weeks ahead.

Reality is what it always is. The things I think of as “interruptions” to The List (like feeding children or keeping up with laundry) are the real life. They are the daily liturgy, the things that invade the false perception that the living must be ordered and controlled and planned out to be relished. Real life and the good life will always break out of the mold we try to stuff it in. The children will laugh before The List is done. You will find them playing an elaborate make-believe game and they might invite you to join. To enter back into childhood for a while. The adult in you might think you should wait, that you must at least do such-and-such or fold a load or finally organize that particular drawer before you can have freedom. The kitchen counters surely must be cleared before you can have any fun.

Today we started officially with the Classical Conversation community in my area. My little 4-year-old loved it, coming home talking about continents and satellites and experiments with temperature. I'm an introvert by nature so the social time of the morning (the moms stay in the class and are available to help) drained me. But overall it was good. Now I look at the week ahead and all I want to do is curl up with a little girl and read books about and help her trace continents on her map and sing songs with her about Charlemagne. I want to put together the first bit of the lapbook with her. There was an unrealistic part of me that wanted everything in the house to be done before this week started. That I'd be free for the homeschooling stuff once all the house projects were behind me. But even when I cross every last item on the list below off, I'll still have things to do in the house. One thing I'm determined to do in regards to homeschooling is seize the moments of interest my kids have about their studies and dive deep into the information with them. I don't want to squelch any joy of new learning with that silly Nesting List. So I won't. I'll fit it in here and there. It will get done eventually. I have crossed a large number of things off this past week or so, after all. Look how close I'm getting…


The Craft Studio:

  1. Have stock base cabinetry installed in our craft studio, and a long counter placed.
  2. Put the shelves I was previously using in craft studio against the wall on the counter, bolt them to wall for kids safety, and then add some trim around the tops to make them look built in. Oh, and also: caulk around things like crazy to finish the built in look.
  3. Add floating shelf above the sink for paintbrushes to live and dry after washing.
  4. Improve on ribbon storage and thread display storage on wall.
  5. Paint cabinets White Dove.
  6. Add labeled bin pulls to all new drawers and cabs.
  7. Organize all arts and craft supplies into cabs and shelves.
  8. Install kids locks on cabinets.
  9. Add “Create” logo on the wall.
  10. Consider how best to use corner spaces and walls for kid use.

The Mudroom:

  1. Change out ugly knobs on cabs for happy yellow ones.
  2. Improve the Mudroom sink: either paint the base or make a skirt for it. (decided not to change it!)
  3. Set up mudroom diaper changing station.
  4. Hang fun wall art, in yellows and greys. This includes kid's handprint art.

Kid's Bathroom:

  1. Paint walls (going with SW “exciting orange”)
  2. Change out lighting over sinks
  3. Install mirrors
  4. Create/obtain wall art
  5. Change out cabinet knobs.

Upstairs Halls:

  1. Paint walls (considering yellow and white horizontal strips if I'm brave!)
  2. Hang turquise frames along walls–consider Alphabet Art of some kind in them?
  3. Hang some inspiring word art in the Laundry Room (Make some myself)

Playroom (soon to be turned into my 2-year-old Son's Room, then in a couple years the Schoolroom):

  1. Paint walls (SW Rainwashed)
  2. Improve AC/heating plan.
  3. Put locks on attic doors (don't want a toddler sneaking into the attic!)
  4. Hang blackout Roman Blinds.
  5. Decide on and hang decorative window panels
  6. Weed out old/broken/annoying toys to donate/discard, and move my Daughter's toys to her room, infant toys to nursery.
  7. Organize toys and books remaining in Son's Room. This might entail new storage, but hopefully not.
  8. Set up the Big Boy Bed.
  9. Put up some Wall Art
  10. Install display bookshelves along one wall for Big Boy's books.
  11. Recover two floor pillows to match the curtain panels.

The Great Room:

  1. Change out sconces on either side of front door.
  2. Change out sconce on on stairwell.
  3. Hang drapes.
  4. New shades for lamps.
  5. Touch up wall paint.

The Keeping Room:

  1. Hang rods.
  2. Make drapes (using target panels and I plan to crochet a fun coral frindge/pom-pom ish border)
  3. Hang egg prints in the Keeping Room.
  4. Create and hang a Nest painting in Keeping Room. (my husband is getting me one for Christmas!!)
  5. Make a sign for over the door to kitchen: “there will be a bright tomorrow, all will be well.”

Nursery:

  1. Set up extra twin bed in nursery (bought two matching ones since the boys will share later!)
  2. Make two matching boy's quilts. Nautical theme. I'm thinking nautical flags?
  3. Research and obtain baby monitor with two cameras that I can view on my phone.
  4. Hang wall art, including oars, life preservers, Large letters for Baby's name. (also need to get new letters for my other kids names on their walls!)

Master Bedroom:

  1. Hang items on walls
  2. Organize items on dresser/declutter
  3. Hang Roman Blinds in Master Bath

Miscellaneous House Organization/Projects:

  1. Reorganize linens and sheets in the Laundry Room
  2. Junk Drawer in the kitchen!!
  3. Organize junky corner cabinet in Kitchen.
  4. Reorganize and secure all medications in house.
  5. Move storage ottoman to basement room.
  6. Measure basement room that Darlene is helping me figure out how to decorate: prepare her a file to send.
  7. Major Freezer Cooking: stock up on a pile of healthy dinners and such for the family when I'm postpartum!!
  8. Hang existing art in Guest Room.
  9. Hang photos in Garage/mudroom hall.
  10. Take down last year's old kid's art, Artkive it (its an app) and file the favorites for safekeeping.
  11. Hang the last items in the Library–decide which diplomas to frame hang.
  12. Finish alterations and sewing pile
  13. Fix old desk chair that's in the garage.
  14. Organize and clean out garage. {Not even sure where to start here!}
  15. Repair a few toys and the dollhouse.
  16. Cover/beautify windowblind over the door to garage.
  17. Make a sign with psalm 121 on it to hang somewhere. I love that psalm.
  18. Do all the Christmas Shopping ahead of time that I can!!
  19. Kid Safety Netting installed along deck rails (This got done thanks to my husband!)
  20. Install a chilproof gate/fence around the workout area in basement to keep kids from getting to weights and stuff.
  21. Touch up paint in downstairs bathroom.
  22. Plan a birthday party for my soon-to-be 5-year-old
  23. Get halloween costumes figured out
  24. Decorate house for fall and buy lighted garlands/12 foot tree for Christmas if they go on sale at Hobby Lobby

 

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Swallowing a frog

The garage is one of those places in most people's homes that is dreaded in terms of cleaning out and reorganizing. But sometimes, before you can really get ahead on a 'to-do' list, you've just got to swallow that frog and clean out the garage. When I added it to The Great Nesting List, I really wasn't sure it would really happen. It would take the stars aligning, I thought, for there to be a cool enough day where both my husband and I had the time and the energy and the desire to tackle it together.

We didn't schedule or plan to do it this past Saturday. If we had, I think we would have dreaded it all week. It just ended up happening. That morning after a leisurely breakfast (peach oatmeal), we just decided to start in, thinking it would only take a couple hours. The kids played in the yard while we worked, and the breeze and cooler temp (for august in SC–high 70's is shocking!) kept us moving. That couple hours stretched into most of the day, but we just kept plugging away, I taking the kids inside for lunch and naptime, and my husband wanting to see it through. We took piles of stuff to the dump which had been laying around since we bought the house, as well as donated a couple things at goodwill. I've never been so glad my husband drives a pickup as when we loaded it up with all those extra broken window screens and wood and such before we left for the dump. Now the garage is one of the most organized parts of the house! It feels so much better coming in and out of it, unloading kids and groceries and such, to have plenty of clear space around the minivan and no piles of leaves and such in the corners for snakes to {theoretically} hide in. Also, when I need to borrow a power tool or something from my husbands toolbox, I can find it!

I've made progress in several other areas though can't quite cross them off the list yet: I'm almost done with one curtain panel's crocheted border, and nearly done with painting the craft studio cabinets. I have about 80% of the kid's art nicely archived. I found some great storage boxes for the most special pieces, and rather than going through the pain of uploaded photos of all the other stuff into the artkive app, as organized as it sounds, I realized the better solution was to use painter's tape to hang all those other pieces all over the large stairwell halls that lead down into the basement, which are a dull, sad brownish color. Nothing like kid's art wallpapering them to pep them up! To the left is a photo of the spot I clip up the art when they bring it home, in the hallway leading out of the garage. I took the photo before I pulled all last year's art down, so now it's all empty and ready to display all this years creations. See the blind over the window at the end of the hall? That's the one I plan to beautify as I mentioned under “miscellaneous” below.

Anyway, as I look over all the rest of the list, I feel as though the worst is well over–the garage is tidy! Frog swallowed.

 


The Craft Studio:

  1. Have stock base cabinetry installed in our craft studio, and a long counter placed.
  2. Put the shelves I was previously using in craft studio against the wall on the counter, bolt them to wall for kids safety, and then add some trim around the tops to make them look built in. Oh, and also: caulk around things like crazy to finish the built in look.
  3. Add floating shelf above the sink for paintbrushes to live and dry after washing.
  4. Improve on ribbon storage and thread display storage on wall.
  5. Paint cabinets White Dove.
  6. Add labeled bin pulls to all new drawers and cabs.
  7. Organize all arts and craft supplies into cabs and shelves.
  8. Install kids locks on cabinets.
  9. Add “Create” logo on the wall.
  10. Consider how best to use corner spaces and walls for kid use.

The Mudroom:

  1. Change out ugly knobs on cabs for happy yellow ones.
  2. Improve the Mudroom sink: either paint the base or make a skirt for it. (decided not to change it!)
  3. Set up mudroom diaper changing station.
  4. Hang fun wall art, in yellows and greys. This includes kid's handprint art.

Kid's Bathroom:

  1. Paint walls (going with SW “exciting orange”)
  2. Change out lighting over sinks
  3. Install mirrors
  4. Create/obtain wall art
  5. Change out cabinet knobs.

Upstairs Halls:

  1. Paint walls (considering yellow and white horizontal strips if I'm brave!)
  2. Hang turquise frames along walls–consider Alphabet Art of some kind in them?
  3. Hang some inspiring word art in the Laundry Room (Make some myself)

Playroom (soon to be turned into my 2-year-old Son's Room, then in a couple years the Schoolroom):

  1. Paint walls (SW Rainwashed)
  2. Improve AC/heating plan.
  3. Put locks on attic doors (don't want a toddler sneaking into the attic!)
  4. Hang blackout Roman Blinds.
  5. Decide on and hang decorative window panels
  6. Weed out old/broken/annoying toys to donate/discard, and move my Daughter's toys to her room, infant toys to nursery.
  7. Organize toys and books remaining in Son's Room. This might entail new storage, but hopefully not.
  8. Set up the Big Boy Bed.
  9. Put up some Wall Art
  10. Install display bookshelves along one wall for Big Boy's books.
  11. Recover two floor pillows to match the curtain panels.

The Great Room:

  1. Change out sconces on either side of front door.
  2. Change out sconce on on stairwell.
  3. Hang drapes.
  4. New shades for lamps.
  5. Touch up wall paint.

The Keeping Room:

  1. Hang rods.
  2. Make drapes (using target panels and I plan to crochet a fun coral frindge/pom-pom ish border)
  3. Hang egg prints in the Keeping Room.
  4. Create and hang a Nest painting in Keeping Room. (my husband is getting me one for Christmas!!)
  5. Make a sign for over the door to kitchen: “there will be a bright tomorrow, all will be well.”

Nursery:

  1. Set up extra twin bed in nursery (bought two matching ones since the boys will share later!)
  2. Make two matching boy's quilts. Nautical theme. I'm thinking nautical flags?
  3. Research and obtain baby monitor with two cameras that I can view on my phone.
  4. Hang wall art, including oars, life preservers, Large letters for Baby's name. (also need to get new letters for my other kids names on their walls!)

Master Bedroom:

  1. Hang items on walls
  2. Organize items on dresser/declutter
  3. Hang Roman Blinds in Master Bath

Miscellaneous House Organization/Projects:

  1. Reorganize linens and sheets in the Laundry Room
  2. Junk Drawer in the kitchen!!
  3. Organize junky corner cabinet in Kitchen.
  4. Reorganize and secure all medications in house.
  5. Move storage ottoman to basement room.
  6. Measure basement room that Darlene is helping me figure out how to decorate: prepare her a file to send.
  7. Major Freezer Cooking: stock up on a pile of healthy dinners and such for the family when I'm postpartum!!
  8. Hang existing art in Guest Room.
  9. Hang photos in Garage/mudroom hall.
  10. Take down last year's old kid's art, Artkive it (its an app) and file the favorites for safekeeping.
  11. Hang the last items in the Library–decide which diplomas to frame hang.
  12. Finish alterations and sewing pile
  13. Fix old desk chair that's in the garage.
  14. Organize and clean out garage. {Not even sure where to start here!}
  15. Repair a few toys and the dollhouse.
  16. Cover/beautify windowblind over the door to garage.
  17. Make a sign with psalm 121 on it to hang somewhere. I love that psalm.
  18. Do all the Christmas Shopping ahead of time that I can!!
  19. Kid Safety Netting installed along deck rails (This got done thanks to my husband!)
  20. Install a chilproof gate/fence around the workout area in basement to keep kids from getting to weights and stuff.
  21. Touch up paint in downstairs bathroom.
  22. Plan a birthday party for my soon-to-be 5-year-old
  23. Get halloween costumes figured out
  24. Decorate house for fall and buy lighted garlands for Christmas if they go on sale at Hobby Lobby

 

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Pounds of peaches (another fit Friday post)

 

I grew up in the state of Georgia, which everybody always called “The Peach State” since its such a big crop down there. Well, turns out my South Carolina produces more peaches!

I mentioned in my last fit Friday post that my husband and I headed up to Asheville this past weekend. On the way back, we stopped at the stand of a local orchard and picked up two large baskets of peaches, about 60 pounds worth! They were picked that very morning, and were perfectly soft to eat by the next day. Lusciously sweet and ripe, but so many of them–so after sending a pile home with my mom, I ended up peeling and freezing most. To peel all those, I dunked them in boiling water for (theoretically) 20-30 seconds, them transferred them to an ice bath for a second. After that the skins peel off easily. The problem comes when you have both a two- and four- year old playing and tearing through the house and needing my help throughout this whole procedure. So some peaches ended up boiling way too long, practically cooking. Most of them worked out fine and I sliced and laid them out on cookie sheets o freeze and bag later. In the past I’ve canned my share of jams, but y’all. There is SO much sugar in those recipes. These days I prefer to preserve extra fruit by freezing.
We enjoyed a good chunk of the pile of fruit fresh, though–my favorite way. It’s sad to me to think of all these great summer fruits ending their seasons soon. I’m really going to miss watermelon this year. Fruit has really been a staple this year in keeping my sweet tooth satisfied in a healthy way.
All that to say, this has been another healthy eating week. We ate well in the mountains and I really don’t have any food choices I regret. I didn’t get a ton of exercise in this week, however. I’d love to walk more, and as the weather permits I plan to try. I really miss running; the heat has kept me from it. I’m already plotting my c-section to 10k strategy and looking at races. Also checking out jogging strollers. I have a fantastic Bob double stroller that was a gift after we had our second baby, but I think I might be running with just the baby a good bit while my other kids are in preschool a couple mornings a week. So I’m checking out the single joggers, though I don’t want to spend much. I’ll post about what I go with here. Menu plan coming up include my homemade veggie pizza, a lowfat veggie lasagna, and tabbouleh with our garden’s bounty.
Let me know in the comments how your fitness habits have developed this past week! I haven’t figured out official link-ups quite yet, so if you post about fit Friday on your blog just leave a link in your comment for us to check out!

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I heart Fabric Glue

I found this pair of lamps at HomeGoods, which opened a new and busy store in a nearby town this summer. I'd been looking for gold, round-based lamps for this “entryway table” (for more on the trunk table DIY look here). I'm still working off the inspiration Design Board for this room, but hadn't decided about the shades. The ones on the lamps when I bought them were burlap, which is all trendy and rustic-y and all, but I realized black and white shades would help pull together in the room better. I looked everywhere online and in stores for the exact size of drum shade I needed, but no luck. Everything was either too tall or too wide!

So, a few yards of white linen and a couple rolls of black grosgrain ribbon, along with a bunch of tugging and tucking and trimming and clips from the kitchen later, and I was done! I used the same treatment on my standing floor lamp shade, so now the black trim on all three shades in the room pulls the mismatched lamps together. I'm thinking of taking a little “rub n buff” gold gilding to the {artichoke?} bases of this lamp pair just to glam them up a little more. Either way, I crossed the lamps off The Great Nesting List below, along with a few other things the last couple weeks.

I finally hung a pile of photos in our downstairs hall, along with all sorts of peppy yellow items in the Mudroom. While I had my tools out, I shifted all these plates and the cork-board over to center them over the new buffet we picked up in Charleston this summer. I love this buffet; the color is perfect and it holds SO much. The cork-board was once framed in white, but a coat of pale aqua pulled more colors out of our window treatments. The coral plates are from target. My kids are memorizing a list of verses along with the Westminster Shorter Catechism, so I pin the ones we are working on up here.

I'm going to tackle the rest of the Great Nesting List and knock out as much as I can in the next week or so–the more I finish now, the more I can put my feet up before baby arrives! I'm saving the crocheted trim to the curtains and the piecing of quilts until last, as I can do those from either the recliner or at least sitting down : ) My wonderful husband, whose kindly done all my spray-painting projects during the pregnancy, is going to help me hang the last of the framed items in our Guest Room this weekend, as well as our newly framed diplomas in the Library.

Aside from all the Nesting lately, I've been prepping for my first year of classical homeschooling. My daughter is not even 5 yet, so this will be a low-pressure year. We will be part of a Classical Conversations community (these are growing SO FAST, with campuses popping up all over!!), as well as doing basic math and phonics/reading work in little, relaxed doses. Otherwise, she'll keep up with her cello practice, and my son is starting violin this year. They are both enrolled in a local Suzuki program and the benefits of music training at such young ages has been profound! Anyway, to officially kick off her grammar school years, I got her this desk and painted {via my husband : )} it these charming aqua and yellow colors. Yellow is her current favorite color : ) More on classical homeschooling and the insanity of starting 2-year-old boys on the violin to come : )

 

You can check out the progress on The Great Nesting List of 2013 below.

The Craft Studio:

  1. Have stock base cabinetry installed in our craft studio, and a long counter placed.
  2. Put the shelves I was previously using in craft studio against the wall on the counter, bolt them to wall for kids safety, and then add some trim around the tops to make them look built in. Oh, and also: caulk around things like crazy to finish the built in look.
  3. Add floating shelf above the sink for paintbrushes to live and dry after washing.
  4. Improve on ribbon storage and thread display storage on wall.
  5. Paint cabinets White Dove.
  6. Add labeled bin pulls to all new drawers and cabs.
  7. Organize all arts and craft supplies into cabs and shelves.
  8. Install kids locks on cabinets.
  9. Add “Create” logo on the wall.
  10. Consider how best to use corner spaces and walls for kid use.

The Mudroom:

  1. Change out ugly knobs on cabs for happy yellow ones.
  2. Improve the Mudroom sink: either paint the base or make a skirt for it. (decided not to change it!)
  3. Set up mudroom diaper changing station.
  4. Hang fun wall art, in yellows and greys. This includes kid's handprint art.

Kid's Bathroom:

  1. Paint walls (going with SW “exciting orange”)
  2. Change out lighting over sinks
  3. Install mirrors
  4. Create/obtain wall art
  5. Change out cabinet knobs.

Upstairs Halls:

  1. Paint walls (considering yellow and white horizontal strips if I'm brave!)
  2. Hang turquise frames along walls–consider Alphabet Art of some kind in them?
  3. Hang some inspiring word art in the Laundry Room (Make some myself)

Playroom (soon to be turned into my 2-year-old Son's Room, then in a couple years the Schoolroom):

  1. Paint walls (SW Rainwashed)
  2. Improve AC/heating plan.
  3. Put locks on attic doors (don't want a toddler sneaking into the attic!)
  4. Hang blackout Roman Blinds.
  5. Decide on and hang decorative window panels
  6. Weed out old/broken/annoying toys to donate/discard, and move my Daughter's toys to her room, infant toys to nursery.
  7. Organize toys and books remaining in Son's Room. This might entail new storage, but hopefully not.
  8. Set up the Big Boy Bed.
  9. Put up some Wall Art
  10. Install display bookshelves along one wall for Big Boy's books.
  11. Recover two floor pillows to match the curtain panels.

The Great Room:

  1. Change out sconces on either side of front door.
  2. Change out sconce on on stairwell.
  3. Hang drapes.
  4. New shades for lamps.
  5. Touch up wall paint.

The Keeping Room:

  1. Hang rods.
  2. Make drapes (using target panels and I plan to crochet a fun coral frindge/pom-pom ish border)
  3. Hang egg prints in the Keeping Room.
  4. Create and hang a Nest painting in Keeping Room. (my husband is getting me one for Christmas!!)
  5. Make a sign for over the door to kitchen: “there will be a bright tomorrow, all will be well.”

Nursery:

  1. Set up extra twin bed in nursery (bought two matching ones since the boys will share later!)
  2. Make two matching boy's quilts. Nautical theme. I'm thinking nautical flags?
  3. Research and obtain baby monitor with two cameras that I can view on my phone.
  4. Hang wall art, including oars, life preservers, Large letters for Baby's name. (also need to get new letters for my other kids names on their walls!)

Master Bedroom:

  1. Hang items on walls
  2. Organize items on dresser/declutter
  3. Hang Roman Blinds in Master Bath

Miscellaneous House Organization/Projects:

  1. Reorganize linens and sheets in the Laundry Room
  2. Junk Drawer in the kitchen!!
  3. Organize junky corner cabinet in Kitchen.
  4. Reorganize and secure all medications in house.
  5. Move storage ottoman to basement room.
  6. Measure basement room that Darlene is helping me figure out how to decorate: prepare her a file to send.
  7. Major Freezer Cooking: stock up on a pile of healthy dinners and such for the family when I'm postpartum!!
  8. Hang existing art in Guest Room.
  9. Hang photos in Garage/mudroom hall.
  10. Take down last year's old kid's art, Artkive it (its an app) and file the favorites for safekeeping.
  11. Hang the last items in the Library–decide which diplomas to frame hang.
  12. Finish alterations and sewing pile
  13. Fix old desk chair that's in the garage.
  14. Organize and clean out garage. {Not even sure where to start here!}
  15. Repair a few toys and the dollhouse.
  16. Cover/beautify windowblind over the door to garage.
  17. Make a sign with psalm 121 on it to hang somewhere. I love that psalm.
  18. Do all the Christmas Shopping ahead of time that I can!!
  19. Kid Safety Netting installed along deck rails (This got done thanks to my husband!)
  20. Install a chilproof gate/fence around the workout area in basement to keep kids from getting to weights and stuff.
  21. Touch up paint in downstairs bathroom.
  22. Plan a birthday party for my soon-to-be 5-year-old
  23. Get halloween costumes figured out
  24. Decorate house for fall and buy lighted garlands for Christmas if they go on sale at Hobby Lobby

 

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Today I'm guest posting at Living Well Spending Less about “Thin Waist, Fat Wallet”, or, ten ways to save money while losing weight. I really enjoy a lot of Ruth's posts on her blog, and find them helpful in the areas of planning, organization, and saving money. So pop over there to hear what I have to say–I'd love to hear your thoughts and comments there.

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If you are visiting here after reading my guest post on Ruth's blog, welcome! Since you might be interested in weight loss, as that's what my guest post was about, you can read more of my weight loss success here. Basically, I was obese, and now I'm not. Though right now I'm very pregnant and just trying to focus on keeping active and making good food choices so I don't gain more pregnancy weight than I should. You can read about my progress on these goals in my Fit Friday posts. (I'll start making them link-ups this week–would love to have you join in for some accountability!) For some key recipes that helped me shed the pounds, check out my Magic Soup recipe-less recipe, as well as my thoughts on the book Eat to Live and on being a Cheating Vegan. Very soon I'll be plotting my Post-Partum Freezer Meal Diet to help me shed any extra weight that hangs around. I'll let you know how it goes and post my plans for it soon : )

Outside of my interest in healthy living, I also enjoy decorating, crafting of all varieties, DIY-ing, and I'm getting ready to start homeschooling my oldest (almost 5 years old) via Classical Conversations this next month. I'm really looking forward to it, thought I haven't posted a ton about it yet, I'm sure I will soon. I have an insatiable appetite for learning, and think I could read a book about almost any subject and learn from it. Here's my 2013 book list. I know–I really need to read things one at a time instead of ten books at once! Anyway, classical homeschooling really fits my personality and I think it will be a good fit for my kids as well.

I'm trained as an internal medicine physician, and see my free clinic patients in the back of a medical truck MacGyver-style. A couple years ago, I wrote a novel loosly based on my first year in med school. I'd love to write another novel down the road, but with 20 hobbies and such beautiful kids to teach I'm not sure when that will be. I'm pretty sure, after living a decade in Charleston, that Lowcountry of South Carolina is one of the best places on earth, and espcially love the shore.

 

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Fit Friday #11 (on a saturday…oops)

Well, I started this post last night but couldn't keep my eyes open. It had been a full, rich day of adventure.

My husband and I are lucky to have some would call a 'babymoon' this weekend, with family graciously keeping our cute kids at home. We headed toward the Grove Park Inn, but on the way yesterday we spur-of-the-moment stopped at the NC Arboretum. My husband is an avid gardener, who quite enjoys citrus and vegetable gardening, but also fiddles with making cuttings and multiplying hydrangea and azalea, as well as air-layering camellia. So the stop was a perfect one to make. There were beautiful gardens to stroll through, full of blooms and butterflies and trees that we don't see in our area. My favorite spot was probably the quilting garden, which had an overlook down toward a stunning tree in the middle of a pool, surrounded by a courtyard with a border hedge of trimmed trees, beyond it a stunning view of the mountains. I couldn't help but think of Narnia –the part in the Magician's Nephew where they finally got to the tree that held those life-giving apples. The photo below in no way does it justice.

There was also a gorgeous bonsai garden. I eventually want to tend my own bonsai, but I've got to decide what variety and such and have a little more time on my hands than I do now to prune it and such. I'm considering Japanese maple.

After a nice lunch, complete with a delicious bulgar salad and Avocado BLT, we investigated a trail that led to the Arboretum's larger Greenhouse. The trail was labeled “easy to moderate” and was supposedly 0.6 miles from where we were to the greenhouse, so despite the fact we were both wearing flipflops, and I am very pregnant and am beginning to suspect I have a stress fracture in one foot, we decided to hike there. It was a beautiful trail with more descents than uphills initially, and curved back and forth around a rushing creek in the gully below. Though a morning rain had heralded us as we'd left SC that morning, the afternoon sky in the mountains was clear and the temperatures were high 60's so we enjoyed the trees and the fern and being out in the woods.

Now, I have to say that after running quite a bit the last few years and using GPS most of the time, I've become pretty adept at mental awareness of distances I've walked or run. And this trail was no 0.6 miles as stated. Rather–it was at least twice that, maybe even 2 miles. This would have been fine had I been at least wearing proper shoes or didn't have foot pain, but as it turned out, the last 0.5 mile was mostly uphill and when you're very pregnant in flip-flops it doesn't go easily!

We finally arrived at the Greenhouse, where I was eager to make a pit stop at the ladies room. Unfortunately as we approached, I noticed that the hour listed as closing had just passed! The doors were locked. I tried not to contemplate hiking back across the trail without using the ladies room, and came to terms with the fact that nature might actually call…But then we decided to do a lap around the greenhouse so my husband could at least look in the windows at all the gorgeous plants. Toward the back of the building a lady inside was misting some little baby cuttings. I knocked on the window and she had pity when she saw my big baby bump, and let us come in to relieve ourselves. We even got to walk through the Greenhouse and see it after all! Eventually I want to build my husband a greenhouse of his own, to house his citrus and grow things through the winter.

The walk back was much shorter, as we took the road, and it actually was about 0.6 miles. They must have based their distance on the drive and not the winding course of the trail and its switchbacks!

In addition to that little hike I'm doing a lot of swimming this weekend, the perfect exercise for sore hips and aches in pregnancy. Making vacation more about action and less about food has been a good transition. I did have a freshly juiced concoction by the pool– carrot, celery, beet, apple and other such good stuff. I'd never tried a veggie juice like this. I've considered getting a juicer before, but always prefer getting all the fiber associated with eating the veggies whole. Maybe I'll reconsider in the future, as I can see how there could be some tasty combinations and a lot of phytochemicals pressed into these concoctions.

I'd love to hear if anyone else has been able to transition to focusing on activity and adventure-ish stuff while on vacation, rather than rich food and overindulgence? I'm still enjoying a little dessert this weekend, but it's sooooooo scaled back from the way I used to eat when celebrating a holiday. Most of the time in the past I've treated a weekend or week away as one long buffet meal, eating at every opportunity and not even feeling hunger the whole time. When it comes to food and travel now, I'm trying to be selective and picky in what I chose, measuring what's really worth the calories, and eating lots of fresh fruits and veggies.

 

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Fit Friday #10

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This week brought insights and progress in solidifying healthy eating habits that were still a little shaky after the first trimester food aversions and second trimester overpermisiveness. I’ve transitioned to a more plant-based eating plan again. Whole foods, no sugar. I am still fighting to avoid temptations, especially cookies, but it is much easier to resist, as complete avoidance of these triggers seems to be the best way for me to keep things in check. One bit of a cookie or a sweet or a salt/fat/sugar “trigger” food, and the floodgates can open. I’ve done some reading about the addictive nature of some of these food, and how simply abstaining completely might be the best plan for certain foods.

Some meals I’ve made this week: Black-eyed Peas. I do a version that has diced tomatoes, chili powder, a few green chilis diced and thrown in, simmered with the dried black-eyed peas until they are soft and well-cooked, then a little salt and pepper. I always wait until they are cooked to salt any beans, as I’ve heard salting early can result in tougher beans.

I’ve kept tomato-cucumber salad handy in the fridge all week–simply sliced and dressed in red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Refreshing and delish. I’m trying to make the best of the end of watermelon season and keep it chopped and ready in the fridge all the time.

I made it through the 3-hour glucola test and passed with flying colors, by the way. But the 2 weeks between the 1-hour and this follow up, while avoiding all sugar and such, helped reestablish my taste buds away from the junk I’d snuck a little too frequently the previous few months.

Next up on my agenda: plotting my freezer cooking plans. I’d love to pack my freezer before the baby is born with piles of healthy meals that will require next to no prep time during those newborn months. I’m still not sure how this will look since I want to have a good number of vegan and vegetarian meals, with whole foods and low fats. Not the traditional cheesy casseroles full of canned creamed soups and such (I haven’t cooked with canned soups in almost 2 years). I’m plotting veggie pot pie, with whole wheat crust, some kind of ‘meatloaf’, ‘meatballs’ for pasta. And I don’t like the processed fake “meats” sold in stores, so I’m doing this from scratch. I will have some meals with meat in there, but I just don’t want them to be the foundation of meals. I’ve been searching the internet for some great meals, and plan to check out a pile of cookbooks and such from the library. There will be a series of posts about my strategy once I iron it all out! Any meal suggestions out there?

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Make the mundane things Cheery

 
I seem to add new things to my Nesting List about as quickly as I cross them off these days! It's part of the urge to nest–the continual finding of new things to do.

I've loved all the Ditto DIY link-ups this past few months, hosted by several bloggers including Darlene, who designed several of the rooms in my home. I obviously love her taste and ideas, so I have to institute some of them, even if it does lengthen my Nesting List : ).

August's challenge was to add designer details to a trash receptable. I had my husband take this thing outside and spray paint it for me, as I probably shouldn't do too much spraying while pregnant. He was very helpful despite the heat and humidity and mosquitoes, and even despite the fact I was away at a meeting and he had the kids nearby in the yard as well! After he finished the 3 coats of spray paint, and they were completely dry, I sat down with white duct tape and scissors and created the banner strips. I just placed them here and there, drapy-like.

The can was originally a rust color, bought at Target ages ago, and has a few broken places in need of disguise. I went with yellow as the base, as I expect this will live in our dining room, where the colors are aquas and corals and I need a few pops of yellow to pull from the colors in our window treatments, as well as to tie in to the yellow in the Keeping Room next door. I love how it turned out, the little flags wrapping around it in jubilance. Maybe it will make me feel like its party time when I'm sweeping up cheerios? Not sure about that but at least it adds a little pep to some chores : )

Next up on my Nesting agenda: finish lots of decorating details in several rooms that are almost done. Finish a couple curtains in the playroom and make the big transition of my boy out of the nursery and into the playroom, and finish crocheting a fun trim on my keeping room curtains. Here's a snapshot of it in progress, “persimmon” yarn laying the foundation for the crocheted edging to follow. It's inspired by the coral pom-pom curtains that Anthropologie was selling, which Darlene and I originally decided on for the room, but sold out in the sizes I wanted. This led me on a quest for coral pom-pom trim to add to some panels. I couldn't find the pom-pom I wanted but I found the color in a yarn, and since crochet is so relaxing and I can do it with my feet up, I figured why not? I'll post the results soon…

 

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Fit Friday #9

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This week was insanely busy. I was at a wonderful classical homeschooling practicum (for Classical Conversations) all day Monday through Wednesday, with kids in the playcamp and nursery who came home exhausted, and then had crazy days yesterday and today.

Good choices this week: Making a great menu plan on Sunday after we got back home from the beach, and hitting the supermarket, stocking up on all the necessities and great fresh produce. I made a massive mediterranian quinoa salad Sunday, which I packed for lunch multiple days, and drank a lot of water.

Bad choices this week: probably ate too much at dinner last night–we went out to a nice Itlaian place on the river overlooking downtown Columbia. Should have skipped the appetizer and the dessert and just enjoyed the fish and salad!

Exercise: Swollen feet and legs and being so busy hustling around trying to squeeze in nuggets of time for The Nesting List, and I unfortunately didn’t get much formal exercise this week. Still working on the pushup and squat plan, though.

 

 

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