Friday, December 31, 2010

Carrot Souffle

Cammy of The Tippy Toe Diet is hosting a virtual holiday potluck. Today is the last day to bring a dish so I am just making it in under the wire! I’m bringing my favorite holiday side dish, carrot soufflé. I’m also asking for your help…. My carrot soufflé never rises. One of my sisters said it is because the carrots are too heavy to rise. So maybe it needs a new name?

I don’t know where attribution for the recipe should go. I got it from my mother and she said she got it from her cousin, but has no idea where her cousin found it. It’s been around for at least 15 years. My apologies in advance if it is your recipe. Email me (click “contact me” on the right sidebar) and I will happily give you credit.

Ingredients:

2 cups mashed cooked carrots
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
3 eggs, beaten
Dash cinnamon
2 tbs all-purpose flour
½ c melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease 2 quart casserole dish. Combine all ingredients in order given and place in dish. Bake 1 hr. Serves 6-8.

This is a lovely, mild side dish and a nice alternative to the traditional marshmallow baked sweet potatoes. It’s not heart-healthy (the butter) but can be made with Splenda to cut back on sugar, and with the carrots it’s chock full of fiber. When I’m asked to bring a side dish to a dinner, 4 times out of 5 I will bring this. It’s always well-received… even the time I forgot the flour!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

November Progress

It's taken me a little while to post about my November progress... the holiday season is fun but can be so busy!  But I'm pleased to say that in the 1st full month after Gastric Mind Band I lost 1.8 lbs, despite having not one, not two, but three Thanksgiving dinners right before the end of the month weigh-in!  The December weigh-in is only a couple weeks away and I'm looking forward to having even better numbers to report... without three holiday dinners to interfere.  My family does most of our Christmas gatherings in the beginning of January, so I should have most of that month to recover from whatever damage I do on the holiday.

Have a fab day!

FTC disclaimer: Since I am blogging about the experience, the Gastric Mind Band service was provided at no charge.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Dress Barn Gift Certificate Winner

And the winner of the Dress Barn gift certificate giveaway is: The Sharp Teeth of Love!  Please click "contact me" in the right sidebar and email your physical mailing address so I can send you the $25 gift card.

Thanks for playing everyone!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Thanks for Entering the Dress Barn Giveaway

I'll be posting the winner this evening.

Upcoming posts: progress on the weight-loss front, and another giveaway!  Also I'll be asking for your help with a recipe that I love even though it never works out the way it is supposed to.

Have a great Friday!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Decadent Cream of Mushroom Soup (Low Carb)

When the weather gets cooler I start thinking about soup.  I remember when we were kids and would be home from school on a snow day, Mom would cook soup for lunch after we had spent the morning making snowmen and throwing snowballs at each other.  Nothing warms me up like the old soup does. 
I got the idea for this homemade cream of mushroom soup from a conversation on Sugar Free Sheila's facebook page, where someone asked about making the soup from scratch and she suggested sauteeing the mushrooms and adding cream.  And that's what I did!  It is quick, easy-peasy and way worth the few minutes it takes to make.

Ingredient amounts are approximate.  This really is a recipe where you can just throw things in the pan and not worry about measuring anything.
  • 1 portabella mushroom cap or a handful of button mushrooms
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 or 2 Tbs butter
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • salt and pepper to taste

I used a portabella mushroom cap.  Select nice, firm mushrooms.  Clean and chop them while the butter melts in the pan.  Chop or crush
the garlic and add it to the melted butter.  Once it is translucent and starts to brown, add the mushrooms.  Toss them to coat them with butter and go ahead and season with salt and pepper at this point.  Once the mushrooms soften but before they get mushy, add the cream.  Stir,heat through, and serve.

Friday, November 26, 2010

How Was Turkey Day?

I  hope all my U.S. readers had a great Thanksgiving Day.  Mine was fab, a very small family gathering but I cooked turkey and all the trimmings.  I tried this recipe for dessert: Autumn Pear Pudding Cake.  It was ok but I probably won't make it again.  The topping was good and a neat idea but the cake part was definitely cake, there was no confusion about it being pudding-cake.  The topping made a sweet cinnamon-flavored shiny crust, which I am trying to figure out how to incorporate into other recipes.  But clearly I need to try my hand at pie-making for this whole holiday thing.  We have two more Thanksgivings to go to so the fun isn't over yet. 

To everyone shopping on this crazy Friday: Good luck getting your bargains.  Stop by and tell us about the deals you scored! 

Be safe on this holiday weekend, drive carefully and most of all, enjoy your loved ones.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Dress Barn Gift Card Giveaway!

This giveaway has ended.  Thank you for stopping by!

Just in time for Christmas shopping, the wonderful people at Dress Barn gave me a $25 gift card to pass on to my readers. Wahoo!

To enter the contest leave a comment on this post. If you follow this blog you get one extra entry, so please leave a separate comment telling me you’re a follower.

The contest will end at 5:00 p.m. CST Wednesday, November 30, 2010. I’ll announce the winner following that. The winner will need to email me their physical mailing address so I can send the card.

Good luck!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Life After GMBT

I’ve had all four sessions and my hypnotherapist set me loose to get on with the process. Last week, the week following my final session, I had the week from hell. I was so busy and every time I turned around there was more to do. I am 100% positive that without the hypnosis I would have eaten every meal last week from a fast-food drive-through and would have turned into a giant french fry. But I didn’t. I brought my lunch to work every day and cooked dinner at home each night. I did have two or three breakfasts from the local convenience store and I bought a few sugary coffee beverages, but I know that things could have been a lot worse. And I finished out the week from hell with a 0.6 lb loss. And you know what? I was happy about it. I made a few poor decisions last week but 85% of the time I was making good decisions about what I put into my body. Two months ago, a week like that might have ended up with a 3 lb or more gain. But not this time. Oh no, this time I lost. So while 0.6 lb may not seem like much to someone else, to me it’s 0.6 lb lost PLUS 3 lb or more not gained. WAHOO! Winner winner chicken dinner!

I also wanted to talk about the cyclical weight fluctuations that women often experience, due to hormone levels and water retention. Without getting into too much detail I’ll say that this past Sunday morning I weighed 4 lbs less than the morning before. And I think many women can relate to the frustration of working and working at weight loss and then having the scale readings dispute their efforts. That’s why I’m only going to post my weight on the progress page monthly, not weekly. And… I should be confident enough to start posting the progress numbers now but frankly, there is a certain number I need to get below before I’m comfortable enough to start posting those particular cold hard facts again. Never fear, it’s only a few weeks away and then I will post my progress from the beginning of the GMBT sessions to the current date. But for the record, in the first four weeks on GMBT I lost 5.6 lbs with no effort at all. So now it’s time for me to start putting some effort into it. And that shouldn’t be hard with all the tools I’ve got on my belt now.

FTC disclaimer: Since I am blogging about the experience, the service is being provided at no charge.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Gastric Mind Band Therapy, Session Four

This past Sunday I had my fourth and final GMBT session. I was so excited! Julie began this session by providing information, just as she had done in the other three sessions. She told me about different kinds of gastric surgery, and the side effects and risks. The risks range from constant heartburn to lifelong diarrhea to, as with any surgery, possible death. She gave me information on the success rate with gastric surgeries, which actually made me sad. I can’t imagine how hard it would be to take the huge step to have surgery in order to control your weight, only to find yourself gaining the weight back a few years later. And you already had the surgery, so what would your next step be? My heart goes out to anyone in that position.

She talked about the specific gastric procedure that the hypnosis would be mimicking, the adjustable gastric band. A hollow band is looped around your stomach and then filled with saline. The saline makes the band expand so that it constricts around your stomach, leaving room above it for about six tablespoons of food or liquid. Following the surgery you are on a liquid diet for several weeks, and after that can move on to solid foods. She showed me actual video of the procedure being performed, then a computerized animation. And then it was on to the hypnosis!

The big comfy chair I usually reclined on during hypnosis was covered by a sheet. I took off my shoes and laid down. She covered me with another sheet and put a “Mind Band” wristband on my arm. She attached a heartrate monitor to my finger and told me to close my eyes. She began with the relaxation stuff and she used scents this time as well. I could smell the jasmine in the field she was describing. Then she moved on to the surgical part of the session. The music was gone and I heard the hustle and bustle of a hospital in the background as Julie talked. I could smell the antiseptic. I heard a heartrate monitor beeping in the background. She later told me that she observed my heartrate changed to match the recorded one during the session. That is pretty damn cool. She talked me through the procedure and then described a tightness I would feel in my abdomen when I began to overeat. She described an uncomfortable sensation that would appear when I overate but would vanish when I stopped eating. She talked about how I would eat small, sensible, healthy meals. I would eat only when I was hungry and stop when I was full. My weight loss would accelerate now and I would continue to lose at a healthy rate until I reached my goal weight. And then I would stay at that weight forever. Hallelujah!

As always, I woke feeling refreshed, confident and energized. I will miss those sessions. Julie gave me a golf ball with Gastric Mind Band written on it, to remind me of the new suggested size of my stomach, and a 9-inch plate to help me continue to eat smaller meals. She also gave me a binder that contained recordings of each of the hypnosis sessions, plus one recording about motivation and one for relaxation. The binder is also full of helpful information about the procedure, the therapy and weight loss.

It’s only been a couple days since the fourth session. As of that day, four weeks since I started down this road, I lost 5 lbs without even trying. I can’t wait to see how easy it will be to continue to lose. I’m already appreciating the help the hypnosis gives… this evening I was so tired and busy.  I’ve been running on empty for several days now. I had a couple errands to run and no time to go home and fix dinner, so I knew I was going to have to pick something up before I turned into a big hungry grumpy bear. At least, that’s what usually happens when I’m hungry for very long; I don’t think the hypnotherapy was designed to fix that particular problem. So I pulled into a fast food chicken place and ordered a four-piece chicken strip basket. It came with a biscuit and fries. I was S-T-A-R-V-I-N-G! And I was absolutely stuffed after two scrawny chicken strips, the biscuit and less than half the fries. If you know me, you know that I can put away the grub and there was no way a few meager handfuls of food would satisfy me. But it did. I could not eat any more. Well, maybe I could have, but I was as full as a tick (as my grandma used to say) and had no desire to eat any more. I had just experienced a minor miracle. Wow. This is really going to work.

FTC disclaimer: Since I am blogging about the experience, the service is being provided at no charge.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Gastric Mind Band Therapy, Session Three

I can’t believe I’m almost done with the therapy sessions. There is only one left. I’ve really looked forward to the sessions… working through the food issues, discussing nutrition, and then the oh-so-relaxing hypnosis sessions. But I’m also excited that soon I’ll have completed all the sessions and will be on the road to a smaller, healthier, more fit me!

This past Sunday was my third of four Gastric Mind Band Therapy sessions (GMBT). I walked in the door 4.6 lbs lighter than my first session, two weeks prior, so I was already excited and positive about another appointment. This time my therapist, Julie Gibson, began things by handing me a jar containing one pound of lard. How often do we lose just one pound and are disappointed that we didn’t lose more? The jar was heavier than I thought one pound would be. Julie said anytime I lost a pound I should remember how heavy that jar was. Then we discussed nutrition: serving sizes, label reading, things to be aware of such as sodium in processed foods and the nutritional advantage you usually have when cooking at home instead of eating out. We talked about the basics of weight loss: a pound is 3500 calories, if you cut 500 calories from your diet every day, in theory you would lose one pound a week. Of course there are other variables: your level of activity, hormones, medical conditions, medications, etc. It’s hard to know what causes the occasional plateau, when your weight-loss efforts continue but your weight-loss does not. She got out a huge stack of books that we flipped through and talked about. Some were cookbooks and all were about nutrition. I have a whole new wishlist for the bookstore now!

Then we did the third hypnosis session. After the initial relaxation exercise, I remember that Julie talked in more detail about my goals, motivations and methods for achieving them. She talked about meals and how I would be leaving part of my meal on my plate; I would eat smaller meals and still be satisfied. I had a little tickle in my throat and I coughed occasionally. I didn’t doze off like I had in the first two sessions. But when it was over, once again I felt great! Not euphoric, but positive and confident and refreshed. And I noticed something odd this week… I ate out a couple times and each time I looked down at my plate and realized I had put down my fork after eating exactly half of my entrée. Freaky! My efforts are still far from perfect, but I don’t expect ever to be perfect. My habits have improved tremendously and I feel great about it. And that positive feeling just feeds into continuing more of the same.

This coming Sunday is the final hypnosis session, where it will be suggested that I had gastric band surgery. I’ve already seen so many differences in my habits with the first three sessions; I wonder how much of a difference the last session will make. Stay tuned!



FTC disclaimer: Since I am blogging about the experience, the service is being provided at no charge.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

And The Winner Is...

Luxamart.com (Creative Commons-Flickr)
 misscaseylee! Congrats on your $45 CSNstores.com gift certificate. Click "contact me" in the right-hand column, send me an email and I will reply with your gift certificate code.

Thanks for playing, everyone!

Soon I'll be giving away a $25 gift certificate to Dress Barn. Stay tuned for the beginning of the contest in the next few weeks.

Have a great Sunday!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Gastric Mind Band Therapy, Session 2

Last Sunday was my second Gastric Mind Band Therapy (GMBT) session.  It's been a busy, busy week and I can't believe it's Friday already and I'm just now posting about it.  But that works out just fine because now I can tell you how the session has helped me over the last week.
During the first GMBT session my therapist, Julie Gibson, did an in-depth interview with me to determine where I've been, where I want to go and the best way to help me get there.  The hypnosis that we finished the first session with addressed just that: what my life will be like if I continue on the path I am on, and what is waiting for me if I change my habits for the better.

I noticed in the week after the first session that my interest in fast food waned considerably and when I had an opportunity to be a little active, I had a little pep in my step.  My weight gain halted and I actually lost almost 2 lbs.

The second GMBT session was on a Sunday, like the one before.  Julie had given me a homework assignment geared toward addressing my motivations, my attitude about my body and resolving some emotional baggage.  We had a long talk at the beginning of this second session, just like at the first one.  We talked about the times in my life when I am more likely to hit the drive-through or overeat or over-indulge: usually when I am stressed or frustrated or very very busy.  We talked about why that was, and about how to handle those situations more constructively, as far as continuing weight loss.  I established a goal weight, which is the 125 lbs that I maintained for over five years, only to start this crazy weight-gain five years ago.  We discussed a goal outfit but I wasn't able to pick one that I really had my heart set on and could picture.  I've been thinking about it this week and might have one for this coming Sunday's session.

Julie gave me a book with calorie, fat and carbohydrate counts for lots of common foods and for many restaurants.  I've used it a few times this week, just to help me be aware of the decisions I'm making.  GMBT is not designed to require you to count calories or points or anything, but to help you make healthy decisions every day, meal after meal.  She also discussed Dr. Daniel Amen's book Change Your Brain, Change Your Body and lent me a copy to read this week.  I'm working on it.  It's an interesting read and makes alot of sense.

We finished this session with hypnosis, which we will be doing in every session.  This time Julie handed me a small black box to hold in each hand, each with a wire going to some small contraption.  She said it was for another specific kind therapy.  The boxes buzz for a few seconds, alternating between the one in one and and the other, and the purpose is to engage both the left brain and right brain in the process.  After the initial relaxation exercise, she talked about my goal, about how some of my weaknesses (hello fancy sugary coffee beverages) are counterproductive to these efforts, about making healthy choices and losing one to two lbs per week to get to my goal, and then she moved into the other portion of this hypnosis session.  She activated the little boxes I was holding, and they started vibrating gently.  She talked about stressful or emotional situations and how they were not going to affect the healthy choices I was making.  I actually have no idea how long the hypnosis sessions last.  I know I dozed off occasionally.  When we finished, once again I was so refreshed and relaxed; I felt wonderful.

I will tell you, I haven't weighed myself yet but this week I have noticed some serious differences in my habits.  Aside from my morning coffee, I rarely want coffee later in the day.  I will think "Maybe I'll make another pot of coffee" after dinner, and then I'll think "I really just want some water."  I've been drinking water and bringing my lunch to work almost every day.  I will have a snack and I won't feel bad about it, but instead of picking up a caramel frappe and a McDouble at McDonald's, I might break out a pear and some peanut butter, or have a snack-size candy bar if  I really want something sweet.  I've been in bed by 10:30 p.m. almost every night and can tell a real difference in my energy levels with consistent sufficient sleep.  All in all, I haven't weighed yet so I have no idea if I've lost any weight this week, but I've been making good decision after good decision.  And it's been easy.  It's as if a little health-fairy is perched on my shoulder, whispering the right choices in my ear.  Don't get me wrong, if I want to make bad decisions nothing is going to keep me from it.  But it is so much easier to make the healthier decision.

My second to last GMBT session is in two days, on Sunday again.  I can't wait to see the changes that will follow this next session. 

Have a great weekend!

FTC disclaimer: Since I am blogging about the experience, the service is being provided at no charge.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Posting Soon

I hope to post about my second Gastric Mind Band Therapy session tonight; things have been crazy here and I have family visiting (yay!) but I will make it a priority.

Have a fab day!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

$45 Gift Certificate Giveaway!

This contest has ended.  Thanks for stopping by!

Remember the gift certificate giveaway I did several weeks ago?  CSNstores approached me again, giving me the title Preferred Blogger and offering me the chance to do a product review or another giveaway.  And of course I am going to do the giveaway, duh!  You guys have stuck with me through everything so far and I appreciate it so much.  Here's my chance to give a little goodwill back to you.

If you weren't along for the ride last time, at CSNstores you can buy just about anything from a drop leaf table to a treadmill to knick knacks to clothing.  The gift certificate is for $45 toward any item in the CSNstores.com, although it doesn't go toward shipping.  To enter just leave a comment on this post and be sure to include your email address.  One extra entry will be counted for each entrant who happens to be (or becomes) a follower of my blog.  This contest will end at 5:00 p.m. CST Friday November 5, 2010.  The winner will be chosen via Random.org and announced shortly after contest end.  Please respond within 48 hours so I don't have to choose another winner.

This giveaway is only open to U.S. and Canadian readers, my apologies to everyone else!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Gastric Mind Band Therapy, Session 1

This past Sunday was my first Gastric Mind Band Therapy session. Let’s just call it GMBT and save me some typing. It was wonderful! I felt so relaxed and positive afterwards.

When I arrived, Julie invited me into her cozy office. We sat in comfy chairs and she shared information about GMBT. She utilizes several different kinds of therapy, including hypnotherapy, to help address behaviors and underlying emotional issues that impede weight loss. She described the hypnotherapy as a way re-program your subconscious mind into accepting healthier behaviors.  Then she asked lots of questions while she filled out a questionnaire. She asked about my childhood, adolescence, family, and relationships. She also asked about my relationship with food and exercise, my current habits with both of those, what I have weighed in the past and what my goals are for this process. I found myself really opening up and being honest, both with myself and with her. It was cathartic. I’ve been looking forward to starting this process for a couple weeks and I gave myself over to it, committed completely.

When she talked about the GMBT process, I was surprised to hear you can eat whatever you want. She emphasizes that no food is off limits, you are just encouraged to make healthier choices and control the portions, eating only when you are hungry. You can have dessert, you just should be able to eat a little of it and then move on. I liked it when she explained that you don’t have to finish a dish, either. Once you’re full, you can either get rid of it or put it away for later. That cookie you’re eating is not the last cookie you will ever have. You can have another one at another time. So there’s no need to shovel it in and then eat four of its friends!

After the discussion and the questions, Julie invited me into a separate room with a big comfy lounge chair right in the center. The lights were low and one wall was covered with a huge beach scene. Hypnosis time! I have to be honest, I’ve always wanted to be hypnotized. I sat back in the chair and Julie perched at a small desk beside me. Music played and she began the hypnosis session. First she talked me through a relaxation exercise: she instructed me to relax my feet, then my ankles, etc., until she had talked about my entire body. I felt heavy and sleepy; I may have drooled. Then she started with visualization. She talked about a path in a garden filled with flowers, lush green lawns, all this sloping down to a short set of steps that led to a beach. At the beach there were two paths, one that symbolized my current habits and one that symbolized the positive new habits I want to form. She discussed my motivations, and what my life would be like if I traveled down either path. I know I dozed off a couple times. I missed some of it. I asked her later if that meant it wouldn’t work and she said not at all; that just meant I was in a deep trance. When she concluded the hypnosis session I felt relaxed and positive and all kinds of good. I was kind of disappointed it was over. Before I left she gave me a notebook and wrote down two homework assignments for me: one is a letter to my body about what I want for it, and the other is regarding some personal baggage that I’ll spare you. We also took my “before” pictures. Wow. Talk about the cold hard truth. You guys won’t be seeing those until I have some “after” or at least “along the way” pictures to share as well. Yikes!

I’ll have three more sessions, and Julie records all four of them. She'll give me the recordings when we’re done with the therapy, and if I ever find myself falling back into bad habits I can listen to them alone at home and give myself a “tune-up.”

After only one session, I’ve already noticed a tendency to make better choices about food. Last night I had a chance to have fast food for dinner and I opted for fruit, cheese and some hard salami instead. I’m not making ALL good choices (hello, McDonald’s caramel frappe!) but I’m still doing a lot better than I was before the session. I hope to see even more improvements as we complete more therapy sessions. My next session is this coming Sunday, and I am still pumped about the process! And tomorrow I have my yearly physical. I’m glad that it was scheduled for right when I’m starting GMBT, so after next year’s physical, hopefully I’ll have some positive changes to share with you.


FTC disclaimer: Since I am blogging about the experience, the service is being provided at no charge.

Monday, October 25, 2010

New Sponsor!

Hey everybody, please give a warm welcome to our newest... and first... sponsor: Julie Gibson of http://www.julietherapy.com/!  You will see a link to her website above the top post on this blog. 

Julie is a licensed clinical social worker who provides individual, couples, play and family therapies.  In addition, she is one of six individuals in the United States who is certified to perform Gastric Mind Band Therapy.  What is Gastric Mind Band Therapy?  To oversimplify it, you are hypnotized into thinking you've had gastric band surgery, the procedure where a band is placed around your stomach to reduce its size and aide in weight loss.  With Gastric Mind Band Therapy you have the assistance in weight loss this procedure provides, but none of the surgical risks.  For more information about this therapy, see Julie's website, listed above, or http://www.gmbandusa.com/

I have signed up for the therapy and had my first of the four sessions yesterday.  Stay tuned in the coming weeks and months to hear about the experience and hopefully witness my progress!

FTC disclaimer: Since I am blogging about the experience, the service is being provided at no charge. 

Not Today

Life intervened and I won't be able to put up a post today about my first Gastric Mind Band Therapy session.  I will post it soon, I promise!  But I did get hypnotized in the first session and it was very cool.  And this morning when I was walking out the barn to make sure the dogs would have water, it was early and still dark and I started to give a mental groan... and then a thought popped into my head: "I love being active!" And I had a pep in my step throughout the rest of my chores, hauling water out to the barn, taking the dogs out there.  Awesome!

Have a fab day.

FTC disclaimer: Since I am blogging about the experience, the service is being provided at no charge.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

My First Gastric Mind Band Therapy Session Is This Afternoon

And I'm very excited!  I know this isn't the session where the hypnotic suggestion is given that I have the band, but I'm still excited to get things started.  I think today's session will be lots of talking about my relationship with food and evaluating my habits, weight, BMI, etc.  I got out some pictures to take to the session, pictures of me before I gained the weight.  The therapist, Julie, didn't ask me to, but I wanted to show here where I've been and what it is that I want back. 

I remember suddenly being a chubby child when I was 8 years old.  I wasn't chubby before that.  Then I struggled with my weight until my late twenties.  At that point I became involved with someone who also struggled with his weight and I followed his advice.  I ate one meal a day and walked two to three times a day.  I also did 20 to 30 minutes of situps, pushups and leg lifts a day.  The one meal a day probably wasn't the smartest thing I've ever done.  It's probably bad for your metabolism.  But I did that for almost ten years.  I lost 80 lbs that way and kept it off for several years.  Then in 2005 I had some big life changes and was on my own again.  I started gaining weight.  I became a runner somewhere along the line and after 2005 I continued to exercise but not as regularly, and I was eating several times a day.  If my food choices had been better, it would actually have been good for me to be eating more often. But my food choices were poor and I exercised less and less.  I realized the other day that I have gained almost 20 lbs a year every year since 2005.  Do the math. Yes.  Wow.  I don't run anymore because I weigh so much more that it' too hard on my body.  And I miss it.  I miss my healthy, fit, hot bod, and I miss being able to walk out the door and crank out a slow two or three miles, coming home sweaty and de-stressed.

I want it back.  I want my fitness back, I want my figure back, I feel like want my life back.  I have a good life... a wonderful partner of over four years, a job, a home, family, friends, too many pets... but I avoid anything that means going out in public because I just don't feel comfortable in my own skin.  And as I look at the last five years and see how quickly I gained so much weight, I can see why.  I'm destroying my health and limiting my life experiences by contiuing this weight gain, and it's time for it to stop.  I am thankful for what I have and looking forward to getting help with taking better care of myself.

And that is why I am so excited about today.

Have a great day, everybody.

FTC disclaimer: Since I am blogging about the experience, the service is being provided at no charge. 

For more information about Gastric Mind Band Therapy (GMBT) go to http://www.gmbandusa.com/.  My therapist for GMBT is Julie Gibson; see her website at http://www.julietherapy.com/

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Oh Yeah, I’m Gonna Get Hypnotized!

If you’ve been around my blog for a while you’ve probably figured out that if I don’t post for over a week, odds are I am off-plan and getting fatter. Which is what is happening right now.

I’ve been struggling with this weight gain for about 5 years. I’ll try something, lose some weight, stick with it for a while, then I’ll let something throw me off track. Then I get discouraged. Then I get lazy. Then I get fatter. The lesson? Maybe I need some help.

I saw something online a while back about Gastric Mind Band Therapy. My understanding is that you’re hypnotized into thinking you’ve had gastric band surgery, and so are able to experience the help it can give you in weight loss, without the risk inherent in any surgical procedure. There are several different kinds of therapy involved: Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Neuro Linguistic Programming, Hypnotherapy and Guided Imagery. The treatment consists of four sessions, and during the fourth session you are hypnotized into thinking you’ve had the surgery.

The treatment originated in a clinic in Spain and has since spread. Now there are six therapists in the United States who are licensed to perform the therapy, and one happens to be in Kansas City: Julie Gibson. I told her I wanted to be her Gastric Mind Band poster-girl. She said “Great!” I will be blogging about the experience and results, and the service will be provided to me for free (hello, FTC). So everyone give a big hand for Julie! And check out her website at http://www.julietherapy.com/. Julie is a licensed clinical social worker. Per her website she specializes in individual, couples and family therapy, play therapy, and Gastric Mind Band Therapy.

I know there is no magic pill for weight loss. I know it takes time and dedication. I just want some help. And I think I’ve found it! My first session is this Sunday, and I can’t wait to get started.

Friday, October 15, 2010

I Have One Question...

Hi everybody!  I'm enjoying the cooler weather here in the Midwest U.S.  I know I haven't been posting much.  My time seems to be all taken up with trying to do something with the bumper crop of pears that our pear tree has produced this year.  Ummmm and watching Stargate SG-1 on Hulu.com.  I'm on season seven.  There are ten seasons.  I'm pretty sure I'll be worthless until I finish the entire series.

My one questions is: why am I always the one who has to pull stuff out of the dog's butt?  Really? 

I hope you are having a good week... better than my dog's week.  But the odds are you don't chew on 2x4's, so I'm guessing you're doing ok.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Cabbage Stroganoff... No, Really, It's Good!

I had some cabbage left over from making Liz's Asian Balls o' Meat and perused the internet looking for inspiration... and found Cabbage Stroganoff.  I am not kidding you, this stuff is so awesome you will freak.  What a great way to get in your veggies!

You can click here for the recipe on CDKitchen.  I didn't follow it, and used it more as inspiration.  I left out the onions and added garlic and mushrooms.  Mushrooms and garlic make everything better.  Except ice cream.  And fudge.  Eww. 

This is quick and easy, too, in addition to being ultra-yummo.

Melt a knob of butter.  Finely chop the garlic and add it to the butter.  When the garlic begins to brown, add the chopped cabbage, salt, pepper and some beef boullion.  Toss it all around a little to coat the veggies.  (Note to self: buy some low-sodium boullion, the regular was kinda overpowering.)  When the cabbage starts to soften, add the sliced mushrooms and continue tossing and stirring occasionally.  Once the mushrooms are cooked through, remove from the heat and add sour cream and stir.  Maybe add a little more, it makes a nice sauce.

We had this with pork chops and it was a marriage blessed by the gods. 

What's your favorite way to have cabbage?  C'mon, I know you love cabbage!  If you don't already, you will once you try this.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Fixing a Window Screen

Step 1: Realize there is a hole in the screen exactly the size of a dog's head.

Step 2: Close window.

Step 3:  Count pets.

Step 4:  Take down screen and frame.  Pull out spline and the destroyed screen.  Show it to dog.  Marvel at his lack of remorse.

Step 5:  Spline new "Pet Safe" screen into the frame and wonder if "Pet Safe" is a match for the dog-asaurus.

Step 6:  Re-install freshly screened frame in window.  Glare at all pets.  Shake a finger at them.  Marvel at their lack of interest.

Step 7:  Realize there is a hole in a window screen exactly the size of a dog's head...

Friday, September 10, 2010

Small Progress is Better Than No Progress!

I just started weighing on Fridays.  It's easier for me to stick to plan during the week, so I figure that will be my best day to see some progress and keep me motivated.

This week I made big strides toward staying on plan.  I had probably one misstep each day, except Wednesdsay.  Wednesday  I rocked!  I think it was because I was focused on trying a new recipe, the steamed dumplings that I posted Thursday.  Yesterday was just a disaster.  I had a doctor's appointment in the afternoon so I left work early enough that I would have time to make myself lunch at home before heading on to the doctor's office.  And I had been running at top speed all morning at work, trying to get things done.  Well, just as I got home the doctor's office called and asked me to come early, so I had to leave right then!  More running.  I finally had lunch at 4:00 and by that time I was starving and caved in and had a regular (with bread) cheeseburger and fries.  The bread and fries are not on plan!  Sigh.  I did have one victory though... all day long I was thinking about pie.  Boy, did I want pie.  At one point I was near a grocery store that sells slices of Tippin's pie.  But I didn't do it, I didn't cave. 

Last night I tried to conconct a recipe for lowcarb chocolate cupcakes to appease my pie-craving sweet tooth.  They weren't that good but no worse than some of the other healthier versions of treats that are out there.  So if you want to give it at try, here ya go: 1 cup grated pork rinds (I used the blender), 1 egg, 1/2 cup heavy cream, 1/4 cup water, splash vanilla, 1/2 cup splenda, 1/2 cup cocoa, genereous dash cinnamon.  Mix by hand.  Use those little cupcake papers when you put the batter in the muffin tin... I can't for the life of me remember what they are called right now.  But I didn't use them and just greased the tin, and the cupcakes stuck.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

Anyhoo, I lost 1.2 lbs this week.  I wasn't sticking to Atkins so that wasn't Atkins weight loss.... you have to stick entirely to plan to see losses with that.  So I'm attributing the loss to eating more whole foods and less crap.

I hope everyone has a fab Friday and an even better weekend!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Liz's Asian Balls o' Meat

Or Low-Carb Steamed Dumplings... or Naked Steamed Dumplings... or Chinese Meatballs.  I think I like "Liz's Asian Balls o' Meat" the best.  Any way you slice it, here's my first original recipe!

I've mentioned I've gone low-carb.  I've told you about my love of steamed dumplings.  I'm feeling like having some Chinese tonight, but the wrappers and dipping sauce for my beloved steamed dumplings have carbs.  What's a girl to do?  Revamp the recipe, that's what!  So I ditched the wrappers and added more eggs and some crushed pork rinds to bind the meatballs and help them keep their shape.  I also reduced the amount of veggies in them since veggies seem to generate alot of moisture when they're cooking... I didn't want that to turn my meatballs into Chinese Crumble.  As far as the dipping sauce, I said goodbye to Mirin, a sweet cooking sake, and used my stepmother's dipping sauce instead: half soy sauce, half cider vinegar.  Seriously, seriously good stuff!


Balls o' Meat Ingredients

1/3 head of cabbage, finely chopped
1/2 bunch scallions (5 or 6), finely chopped
1/2 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
3 large button mushrooms, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped or run through a garlic press
1 inch nub of fresh ginger, grated
3 eggs
1 lb ground turkey (or pork)
5 cups crushed plain pork rinds
2 swirls of toasted sesame oil
3 swirls of soy sauce

And by "swirl" I mean draw a circle in the mixing bowl as you pour. 

Dipping Sauce Ingredients

1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup cider vinegar

Makes 40 meatballs, serves four
Prep time: 1 hour
Cook time: 25 minutes

Mix all the meatball ingredients together really well.  I use my hands.  Nasty, I know, but nothing else works as thoroughly or as quickly as just rolling up your sleeves and getting dirty. 

Roll the mixture into meatballs.  It might be worth your time to put the whole mess in the fridge for 20 minutes or so to rest first, to give the pork rinds a chance to absorb some of the moisture.  I noticed that the last meatballs I rolled were much easier to make than the first few.



I knew I was going to freeze whatever I didn't end up cooking for dinner, so I put the finished meatballs on a cookie sheet covered with waxed paper.  Once the meatballs I didn't cook are frozen solid, I'll toss them in a plastic tub where they'll take up less freezer space.

Steam the dumplings for 25 minutes and serve with dipping sauce.  We had salad with them to round out the meal.  I used the toasted sesame oil and some vinegar as salad dressing; that was a great match for the dumplings.  And wow, the dumplings were so good!


Honestly, I didn't miss the dumpling wrappers one bit, and you couldn't tell there were pork rinds in the dish at all.  Make sure to use the plain ones, though.  I'm not sure how Mesquite BBQ or Hot 'n Spicy pork rinds would work out...

These were awesome!  They were time-consuming to make but not as much so as the actual dumplings-in-wrappers are.  And it made almost 40 meatballs, enough for two dinners for the two of us.  So the next time we want Chinese I can cut out the hour of prep time and get straight to steaming them.  Easy peasy.  And totally Low Carb!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Back on Track

Good morning!  I just wanted to check-in.  I have been continuing to try to get back on track with the ol' food plan.  I am so close to getting it right!  Monday I did everything right except have a damned frappucino and a candy bar.  Tuesday I was ultra-busy and ate lunch a couple hours late.  Then I bought a candy bar without even thinking about it and didn't realize I was off-plan until it was in my hand.  And then I ate it.  So today, without further ado, I bring you Day One of Back on Track.  I can do it!  I know I feel so much better when I don't have sugar.  I've managed not to have any bread products for the last three days; I've just been struggling with the whole sugary-stuff-thing.

My fridge is loaded up with protein and vegetables so I have the tools; I just need to stick to that darned plan!

Tonight I will be working on my first original recipe, and I can't wait to share with you.  Hopefully by the weekend I will have it tested and posted.

Is there anything that has been a big temptation to you lately?  Have you been able to resist, and if so, how?

Have a fab day!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

We Have a Winner!


Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway, it was so fun to read your thoughts on what you would buy.  And now, with no further ado, the winner:


 The winner of the $60 gift card to CSNstores.com is Bluerose!

Bluerose, please stop back by and let us know what you end up purchasing.
Have a safe and happy Labor Day weekend!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Giveaway Winner TBA

I'll be announcing the winner of the gift card giveaway this evening or tomorrow morning.  Whoo hoo!

I hope everyone has a great Friday!  Those of you who have a long weekend for Labor Day, are you doing anything fun?  We will be getting together with family and doing all kinds of fun stuff.  And Sunday or Monday I  need to start canning pears; it's that time of year and our pear tree seems to have survived the recent thunderstorms intact, thank goodness!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Gardening and Giveaways

Gardening

This summer my sister and niece helped me revamp a couple big flower beds.  Talk about a workout!  Squatting, digging, pulling, planting.  I felt so hardcore when we were done!  Aaah, I love workouts that are just built into your life. No need to carve out time to go the gym when you are busting your hiney in your own yard and getting something else done, besides.



 Don't mind me, I'm showing off a pair of gardening gloves I got for my birthday.  Can you tell my favorite color is green?

The gardening workout was doubly enjoyable because of the sisterly/niece-ly bonding and the neat and tidy flower beds that came out of it.  And every time I look at the flower beds I can remember a great visit with family who I see far too seldom.


Giveaway

Only a day and a half until the gift card drawing!  Click here to read the rules and enter.  I have noticed that some of the people entering aren't leaving their email addresses.  If you included a link to your webpage I can track you down that way, but if you didn't, and if you didn't leave an email address, I don't know how I will find you if you win!  Please, please leave your email address when you enter the giveaway.  If you don't want to put the address in your comment for privacy reasons, I guess you can email me right when you leave your comment.  Just click on "contact me" in the side bar.

I'm very excited about the giveaway!  I'm having a great time seeing what people are thinking about buying if they win.

Have a fab day!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

It Looks Like A Bedroom Again


Last night after work I thought "A nap sounds good!" and then I remembered my bedroom... or as it has been known this summer, The Repository of All Things Inconvenient and Unsightly.  For some reason it had become the place for stray papers, off-season clothes and who knows what else.  So I marched my hiney in there and picked up one thing.  Then another.  An hour or so later it finally looked like a bedroom again and I was planted on the living room couch, sorting through papers.  Another hour or so after that all evidence of the cleaning binge had been handled.  I have my bedroom back and I don't regret missing that nap one bit.

What dreaded task have you tackled lately?  Tell us about it so we can pat you on the back!

Don't forget to enter the drawing for a $60 gift card!  Entries will be accepted until 9/2/10 at 5:00 P.M. CST.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Happy Monday!

Sunday my friend from college and I ended up meeting at Winsteads.  The food was mediocre but the company was excellent!  I did manage to stay on track with the food; I had a side salad and a burger without a bun.  Here's a blurry picture taken by the waitress. 

It was great to catch up.  You know how nice it is to talk to someone you have known for years, someone that understands all your verbal shorthand and jokes?  It's almost restful.  There is no "trying", it's just effortless communication.  Friends, what would we do without them?!

I hope everyone has a great week.  Don't forget to enter the drawing for a $60 gift card

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Planning to Stay on Track!

Good morning my friends!  I want to send a big thank you out to my readers because I'm Shedding the Fat-Suit just surpassed having 30 subscribers on blogspot.  I've been watching that number for a while and for some reason really wanted to get past 30.  Thanks, you guys are awesome!

I am going out to lunch today with ANOTHER friend I have not seen in forever, this one is a college-buddy (buddy-ette?) and I am way excited to see her.  I was thinking we might go to d'Bronx, a great local pizza place with fabulous salads, sandwiches and desserts.  I could get one of their salads and totally stay on track.  But it's a little out of the way so we might go to Winstead's instead.  It's a local burger joint.  Or another local burger joint is Town Topic.  Word on the street is that they have the greasiest burgers in town.  Mmmm grease.  I can stay true to plan at a burger place by getting it without the bun and with no fries.

Have you had a chance to catch up with old friends lately?  Leave a comment telling me what you did when you got together... eating out?  Meeting for drinks?  Fishing?  Or (gasp) exercising? 

I hope everyone has a fab day.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

My Favorite Lunch Spot, French Pastries Included

Hey folks, I hope everyone is enjoying their Saturday.  It's beautiful here in KC today and I had lunch was a great friend who I don't see nearly enough.  And our lunch was at my favorite lunch spot on the planet, Andre's Tea Room, which is a part of Andre's Confiserie Suisse.  And if you are asking yourself "what is a confiserie suisse?" then I will tell you, it is a little bit of heaven right here on earth.  If you doubt me, let me just tell you that not only do they have fabulous food but they charge a flat rate for any lunch, which includes a drink and one of their French pastries.  The lunch portion sizes are reasonable so I never leave hungry, but I also never leave stuffed to the gills.  And the desserts, while amazing, are served in little ladylike-sized portions, so you can indulge and still feel virtuous.  Then, as you walk to the exit, you pass through the sales room for the sweet shop/bakery, which is full of handmade chocolates, more of the amazing pastries, and tortes and cakes too.  I keep meaning to take pictures when I have lunch there.  Next time I go I will try to remember. 

Today I had the bratwurst, and my dessert was Mocca Roulade.  The bratwurst was tender and perfectly cooked, served with dipping mustard, potato casserole, and a tossed salad.  But I asked to have their carrot salad instead of the tossed salad... I never knew I cared one bit about carrot salad until I had theirs.  And now I pout if it's not offered when I make it down there for lunch.  They must marinate the carrots in their special dressing; I am sure it has sugar in it but I'm not sure I care!  And speaking of sugar, the Mocca Roulade was mocha-y almond-y sweet goodness, and fabulous enough that I don't for one minute regret having that much sugar.  I live and work far enough away from Andre's that it is a special occasion to go there, and when I do, I have no regrets!

Where is your favorite lunch spot?  Do your city or town have a place the locals flock to and out-of-towners track down as well?

Don't forget to enter the drawing for a $60 gift card to a great online store!  Click here for the instructions.

I am not affiliated with Andre's Confiserie Suisse and was not compensated for this post.  I am merely spreading the good word about some of the amazing food in Kansas City.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

My First Giveaway… A $60 Gift Card!

Edited to add: This giveaway has ended.  Thank you for stopping by!

Dear Readers, I have neglected you sorely this summer. In an attempt to make it up to you, I am hosting my first giveaway!

I was recently contacted by CSNstores who offered to award one of my lucky U.S. or Canadian readers a $60 gift to use on their website. They sell everything from kitchen tables to pie pans to exercise equipment to eco-friendly pet products. And more! Since I’m kind of a cooking-geek I went straight to the cookware to check things out. I was drooling over the Cuisinart pots and pans and coveting the Nordicware bundt pan, myself.

They have a huge selection of name brand products and the prices are very reasonable. The gift certificate does not include shipping and handling but many of the products have free shipping offers.

Entering is easy-peasy: to enter, check out CSNstores.com, then come back here and leave a comment on this post telling me what you would buy with your gift card. Leave your email address in the comment so I can contact you if you win.

This giveaway will be open for a week, ending Thursday, September 2, 2010 at 5:00 p.m. CST. The winner will be chosen using Random.org and I will contact them via email. Please respond to that email within 48 hours or I will have to choose a new winner. The winner’s name will be announced after they respond to their notifying email.

The giveaway is only open to U.S. and Canadian readers; my apologies to everyone else!


I was not compensated in any way for this post or for the giveaway. This is all for you guys!

Monday, August 23, 2010

I'm Still Here

Hey folks, I hope everyone's summer has been great.  I just wanted to drop in and say "I'm Still Here!"  I've been pretty busy the last few weeks.  My sister and niece came out from Virginia and spent a week here.  It was so much fun!  We went up to Omaha to the zoo, visited with J's sister-in-law, niece and brother there, and back here in Kansas City we went to a little water park a couple time.  And they helped me redo two big flower beds!  We liked the road-trip idea so are thinking about taking a longer one for next year's visit. 

Then my dad, step-mom and two little baby sisters came out for three or four days.  I had not seen them in five years because they were living in Guam, but they relocated to Las Vegas this year so it's a little easier to visit now.  Dad is getting older so I'm really feeling the need to see him at any opportunity.  Step-mom is only nine years older than me and is a hoot.  She is Chinese and we cooked up a big Chinese food feast one night; she improved my steamed dumplings quite a bit and it was so nice to have someone to help me with all the little wrappers.  And the baby sisters are adorable.  Last Monday morning when the family was ready to leave, the eight-year-old was crying. I said "Oh, I'll miss you too!" but Dad straightened me out... it wasn't me or J they would miss, but our dogs.  Kids!  Too funny.  I couldn't help laughing.

After all the visiting I started falling off the low-carb wagon but am back on it full-force now.  I just feel so much better without all that sugar and bread.  It's okay once in a while, but I have more energy when it's not the main part of my daily diet.

Have a fab day!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Being Fat Makes You Stupid

Check out this article from HealthDay Reporter via Yahoo News.  Apparently the more excess weight a woman who is past menopause carries, the worse her memory is.  Just one more reason to get the weight off.  Looks like I have a few years yet before this particular side effect hits.  Because 39 years ago today my mother gave birth to a baby with such chubby cheeks that all the orderlies in the hospital called her "Chipmunk", and that would be me!

And by the way, I'm closing in on one month sugar-free.  I've only lost a few pounds but I still feel so much better; it's totally worth it. 

Have a fab day, everybody.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Sugar-Free Me

Hello again, peeps.  Hope all my U.S. readers had a fun and safe 4th of July weekend.  I know I did!  We spent Saturday with family who lives on a lake.  There was lots of good company and fun in the sun.

I know I've been MIA for a while.  I have had no energy for what seems like months.  And my weight-loss efforts have been just about nil for several weeks, maybe two or three months.  I've been coming to terms with the fact that while my health is good, for several reasons I am heavily predisposed to developing diabetes.  And with my weight slowly creeping up again and my 39th birthday on the horizon, I knew it was time to make some serious decisions about doing what I can to avoid this disease. 

So after doing some research, talking to my doctor and saying goodbye to white bread and refined sugar, I've gone sugar-free and low-carbohydrate.  I'm 14 days in to this new way of eating, and I'm still alive.  Who knew? 

With the exception of yesterday and today, because I've experienced some challenges while travelling over the holiday weekend and have been very tired because of not sticking to the food-plan... except for the last couple days I have felt great!  I've had no cravings, and so much more energy.  I wake up before my alarm clock goes off and am ready for my day.  I don't have energy highs and lows.  I no longer get sleepy mid-afternoon; I just start getting a little tired in the early evening and become steadily more tired until bedtime. 

I've avoided bread, potatoes, pasta and rice.  I'm eating alot more salad and vegetables.  I've fallen in love with raw zucchini, which is much better than the way I've always had it, cooked.  It has a fresh, delicate flavor and if my stomach is upset, raw zucchini is just the ticket to soothe it... way better than saltines, and I never would have discovered that if I hadn't turned over my new sugar-free, low-carb leaf.

Besides the zucchini, I've found some other good substitutions.  Many low-carb websites recommend using portobella mushroom caps as a base for pizza, so I gave it a try.  I used a very low-sugar pizza sauce, turkey pepperoni and some mozzarella on the olive-oil brushed bella cap, and it was fab!  Not quite the finger food that pizza on a crust is, but I eat my pizza with a fork anyway.  And I've rediscovered the peppery crunch of celery sticks, and the mild sweetness of raw broccoli.  Much better than cooked broccoli!

So that's where I'm at and what I'm doing.  I've lost a few pounds but it's probably just water-weight.  I'm thinking this week I may put my new found energy to work at the gym.  We'll see.

Have a fab week!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

It's A Rough Day For Wildlife In These Parts


First a baby bird falls out of its nest onto our deck, and then a snake gets caught in the bird-netting on our strawberries.  The baby bird actually fell out of the nest while I was on the deck.  Mama followed it down and they chatted for a bit until she flew off.  I retreated so as not to disturb them.  She seems to be keeping an eye on him; I hope she can keep him safe from the neighborhood cats and from the old owl until he can fly.

Just a little bit ago J asked if I wanted to see a snake and showed me this guy, who at the time was caught in the netting over our strawberries.


When I said I would help get him out of the netting, I didn't realize he was over three feet long... but we got him loose without any incidents, and set him free by the barn.  And I put the netting away; the berries are done for the year; no need to risk more animals getting hung up in that stuff.  I hope the snake manages to steer clear of the owl, too.  I love the owl, but I'd just prefer he not snack on these two particular critters.  They've had a rough day.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Strawberry Jam With Homegrown Strawberries



Your hint yesterday was that there would be lots of red in today's photo's... did you guess correctly? Gold stars for all who did! Ok, imaginary gold stars.

Last year was the first time I ever tried my hand at canning. And yesterday was the first time I have ever made jam! I'm pretty darned proud of myself.

And now on to the strawberry jam! I cruised the internet and saw most recipes included only three things: strawberries, pectin and sugar. The sugar helps preserve the fruit's color and shape; I am not ready to experiment with low-sugar recipes yet. Anyhoo, every recipe had different measurements so I just made up my own. Click here for a good resource for canning instructions.  You don't have to can the jam; if you're going to use it up within a couple weeks, why bother.  Just keep it in the fridge.

For the recipe you will need: 
  • 5 or 6 cups crushed strawberries,
  • one envelope of pectin, and
  • sugar (I used 6 cups and it was a little too sweet for me... and I like sweet).
These amounts made enough jam to fill 9 half-pint jars.

For canning you will need:
  • jars and lids (this recipe made enough jam for 9 half-pint jars), and
  • a canner (a big pot to boil the jars full of jam).
 And for canning it can't hurt to have:
  • jar grippers/special tongs shaped to grab the jars out of the boiling water,
  • a funnel for keeping the rims of the jars clean when filling them with jam,
  • a fun stick with a magnet on it to pull the lids out of the water, and
  • that flat piece of blue plastic laying over the funnel is a tool to measure headspace in the jar. 
I get my canning supplies at the grocery store; they have not been hard for me to find.  I think I did have to go to a farm and home store to get the canner last year, but that may have been because it was later in the year and most people had already bought their basic supplies.  However, I was able to find jars and lids at the regular grocery store throughout the year.


Jam-making goes pretty quickly, so before you start it's a good idea to go ahead and sterilize your canning jars by leaving them in boiling water for 10 minutes in your big canner-pot, and also put the lids in a saucepan and barely bring that pan to a boil.  As soon as the lid-pan starts to boil, pull it off the heat.  Leave the lids in the warm water while you make the jam.  Pull the sterilized jam jars out of the water and start making your jam!  I did all my boiling and sterilizing while I was cleaning the berries.

Wash and hull the strawberries, slice them into chunks and crush them. I used a potato masher to crush them.


Mix one envelope of pectin with 1/4 cup of the sugar.  Stir that mixture and the strawberries together in a tall pot over high heat.


Stir constantly.  When the berries come to a boil add the sugar.


That's alot of sugar.  I cringed a little after seeing the huge pile of it, but it's for an entire recipe of jam and how much jam do you really use at a time, anyway?

Stirring constantly, bring the berry mixture to a hard boil, the kind you can't stir away.  Continue stirring as you keep it at the boil point for one minute. 


At this point, smarter people than me would test the jam by either putting a spoonful on a chilled plate or on a spoon that you have kept in ice water.  Cool the sample and check to see if it's still a little runny.  If it is, try boiling it a little longer or add more pectin from the extra box I was not smart enough to have on hand.  I, of course, did not test it and my end product was a little runny.  Lesson learned.

Pull the pot of jam off the heat and let it cool for 5 or 10 minutes.  This is a good time to skim off the foam.  Look at all the foam I removed! 

Later I microwaved it (not in that metal bowl, of course) and it turned back into jam. Foam is just jam with some extra air in it. It's not as flavorful as the actual jam and it can reduce the shelf-life of your canned product, so while it won't hurt you (prior to spoilage, anyway) it's a good idea to get it outta your jam.

Also, while I was letting the jam cool I put the jars back in the boiling water so they would not break when I filled them with jam. As soon as I was done skimming the foam off the jam I pulled the jars out of the water for use.

Give the jam a stir, then using the funnel fill the jars to within 1/4 inch of the rim.  Wipe the rim and place the lid on it, then screw on the lid-ring-thing.  Once all your jars are full, use your special funky tongs to place them in the canner where you kept water boiling all this time, in anticipation of this moment! 

Leave them in the boiling water for 5 or 10 minutes, depending on the elevation of where you live.  Where I live it's under 1,000 ft above sea level, so I boiled them for 5 minutes.  Pull them out, again using your funky tongs, and set them on the counter where they will be undisturbed for about 24 hours.  You will  hear the lids "pop" as they seal; it is such a happy little sound!  After 24 hours, press on the middle of each lid.  If any of them click up and down, they didn't seal.  Use those first; it doesn't mean the jam isn't any good, it just means they aren't "canned" correctly, whether it was a problem with the lid, or maybe the jar's rim had a chip in it, who knows.  All you need to know is you can open this jar first!  This recipe filled 9 half-pint jars.

I dug into my jam first thing this morning, adding it to my peanut-butter wrap breakfast.  It was fab!

 

It's a little runny, as you can see.  And it is ultra-sweet.  I think next time I will try making it with 4 cups of sugar instead of 6, and I will use more pectin, too.  But it is a fresh, summery taste that I will be able to enjoy this winter when the only green to be seen is on the Christmas tree and spring and summer are something you just dream about.


Sunday, May 30, 2010

Andrea, You Are An Angel

Andrea, whoever you are, thank you so much for you comment on this post.  I finally got around to trying your frappucino recipe today and LOVE it!  I would have emailed you instead of making this big production of a thank you, but there was no contact information/link on your comment.

You guys, she said to put 1 scoop chocolate protein powder, 1/2 to 3/4 cup cold coffee and a handful of ice cubes in the blender.  Follow her instructions, she is SO on to something.  I am going to save a fortune in frappucino's!  Not to mention it is less fat and sugar than my usual frapp.

Hope you are enjoying your Memorial Day Weekend!  Or for you non-U.S. residents, I hope you are enjoying your regular weekend.

Have a fab evening.  Stay tuned, tomorrow will be a recipe post and here's a hint... there will be alot of red in the photos.  Any guesses as to the recipe???

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Pricey Purses

I just read an article about mall chain stores beginning to carry purses that cost upwards of $300.  I don't get the designer handbag thing.  I'll admit, right now I'm wearing pants from New York and Company (which is still called Lerner in my heart), a shirt from Old Navy, sandals from Wal-Mart and am carrying a purse  from Target.  I should stop this post right now because I've probaby already made a different point: I'm no style icon.  I couldn't spot a pricey purse if you swung it under my nose.  But I just don't get why a store would have a market for a purse that costs maybe ten times more than the average price of an item in their store. 

I like nice things; who doesn't?  I will splurge on an item occasionally.  But if you are buying the purse as a status symbol, wouldn't you still want to buy it somewhere where you will get the best value for your dollar?  If you don't care about having this season's fancy purse, buy it at an outlet store or on sale at establishment that specializes in that designer in accessories in general; they should have a discount section.  If you want the most current thing, again wouldn't you want to go to a store that specializes in accessories or has a reputation for having the latest, coolest, most current coast-to-coast thing? 

Don't get me wrong, mall stores are where I spend most of my clothing money.  But buying a $300 purse at a store where the average price of an item is $38 (per the article linked above) just leaves you with a really expensive purse, not a status symbol.  Unless maybe they are going to carry Coach and... ok, that's the only fancy purse line I know.  But if it's not a brand that is already considered covetable, what is the point of paying $300 for the purse?  And what makes those purses so expensive anyway?  Are they impervious to the jelly and boogers that small humans will wipe on them?  Are they indestructable or perhaps do they contain a jet-pack for when you're late to work?

I just don't get it.  Good luck with the new mall placement of pricey purses.  I'm concerned it will be a bust.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Happy Blog-versary To Me!

I totally let the one year anniversary of my blog pass by without notice.  May 24, 2009 was my first post.  I've had some starts and stops but keep coming back to the blogging; I love it.  I enjoy the creative outlet and the interaction with the blogging community.  So everyone grab a cupcake for a toast... here's to you, here's to me, and here's to beginning the second year of Shedding the Fat-Suit!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Strawberries!


I know I've been MIA, and all I have to say is I've missed you, bloggie-friends!  And today, when I pulled back the bird-netting and picked strawberries, I knew I had to post tonight to share this picture of today's bounty!  I can't believe my tiny little strawberry patch is producing so much. 

Three years ago I noticed a few random, teeny tiny strawberry plants in the yard.  Someone must have had a strawberry patch there a long time ago and then pulled them out and seeded grass.  I transplanted the orphans into a 2 ft x 2 ft raised bed.  The next year they gave us three little berries.  The year after that they produced enough berries that we had a few handfuls to snack on.  This year they are on steriods!  And they are escaping the raised bed and making a run down the hill towards the driveway.  I think I'll let them; I like the idea of a slope covered with strawberry plants.  I'll just throw down some stepping stones this fall or next spring so we have a place to stand when picking.

We picked a pint of berries a couple days ago and today, an entire gallon!  We had strawberry shortcake with homemade whipped cream after dinner tonight, and I think this weekend I will be figuring out how to make jam. 

Have a fab evening!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Eat Smarter, Move More

I think we all agree that there are two rules for weight loss: eat less (or smarter) and move more.  I get caught up in plans and points and ratios and rules for eating, then I break the eating rules, then I break them again, and then I give up.  As much as I talk about successful weight loss coming from a lifestyle change and not from a diet, I sure do seem to get on the diet bandwagon.  And then jump off it with abandon. 

It doesn't have to be complicated.  Eat better.  Move more.  That's it.  As for eating better, Stephanie Small of 9weightloss.com quotes Jillian Micheals as saying "Don't eat anything that doesn't come out of the ground or have a mother."  That's pretty simple.  Harder said than done, but simple.  I don't think I can go whole-hog on that one because I'm not going to dump dairy products or bread or tortillas.  But I can work on eating healthier choices of them. 

As for moving more, I think it can start as simply as parking farther away from your destination, or walking to the corner store instead of driving.  Then there's my gym membership... no more setting outrageous goals like getting up at 5 a.m. every day to go work out before work because I usually last about one day with that plan.  How about taking a short walk around the block before my morning shower if I get up too late to go to the gym? 

Just some thought that are running around in my head.  Have a fab day.