sweet sisters + surprises {a mystery birthday dinner!}

We had the chance to go on a fun little date this afternoon- my sister-in-law Cayse asked us if she could come watch the kids for us! How many people do that?

Oh my goodness gracious. :)

Can I just say, this girl is too sweet.
Here we are at Abbie's lovely dinner party last weekend!
{it was so beautiful! Abbie did a fantastic job and we had such a wonderful time!}
For my 28th birthday {this was 1.5 years ago, back in 2010}, she planned an entire surprise murder mystery dinner for me.

She and my brother Josh even decorated my house for the party while my husband whisked me away for my birthday weekend.

I had no idea it was coming. Not a clue. :)

My husband told me he was taking me to a special dinner and insisted I wear a blindfold {and something dressy!} for the hour long ride. 

Just when I *thought* I heard the familiar sound of our front door opening {but still wasn't sure where we were},  Rob told me to take the blindfold off and suddenly I saw all of my best friends standing there screaming, "SURPRISE!!!" at me!

It blew me away. :)

It was one of those moments when you're so happy and stunned you almost cry. :)

The 17 of us all played different characters over a lovely dinner, and it was so much fun!

We never stopped talking because we were all trying to find the killer. :)

the mystery dinner crew {minus three that had to leave early}
It was hands down one of the best nights of my entire life. :)

And this man knew it was coming {and coordinated the getaway!}:

And Abbie was in on it all and helped with the whole thing too:

Here we were after the party:

This sweet woman is seriously the aroma of Christ. She's been such a blessing and a help and encouragement to me. I love her so much! {And I love my brother even more for marrying her! ha! :D}

Thank you, Cayse, for being the sweet sister and friend that you are!

original food meal plan #3 + goals for this week

It's always so hard to come back to real life after a three day weekend! We had parties and get-togethers every day and it was a blast! We had so much fun spending time with friends and family. But regular life is pulling us back in for the rest of the week!

We have so much going on over the next five days. Our game plan this week is to take a break from school and just work on the house projects. 

Our laundry room and pantry is getting a major DIY overhaul right now, which means that we have baskets of clothes and sheets and food everywhere. It's craziness. :)

our family closet/pantry is getting a new look! wohoo!
I'm going to try and see how much painting I can do between teaching classes and cooking and cleaning. My plan is to let the housework go so that we can focus on getting projects done.

I'm a little nervous about that- I have to admit, I feel a little tense/stressed out when my kitchen counter and table are covered in clutter. But it's all for a good cause, right?  :P

I'm making menu plans and going grocery shopping this week, even though I have no idea which nights we will follow them. We've been so busy that we've eaten out more than we planned to recently. I love my husband so much- he always encourages me not to cook when we're stressed or busy. He's so sweet.

snack food: we're trying out these zucchini chips

this week's menu plans: 

black-eyed peas and basmati rice {already made in the crockpot and rice cooker for tonight!}
zucchini and squash "pasta" with fresh corn on the cob
steamed veggies, salad and roasted garlic potatoes
raw tacos, rice and salsa
dinner out

pinto beans and rice
easy veggie chili {uses up leftover beans!}
homemade sushi {veggie: avocado, cucumber, zucchini}
zucchini and squash
lunch out w/the hubs

homemade granola

oranges and apples

We were given sacks full of zucchini and squash this weekend. Rob's grandpa sent us over fresh veggies from his garden! They were delivered by his parents, who came to watch the kids while we went to a beautiful dinner party. {Hooray for sweet in-laws! Thank you, mom and dad! :)}

And this week I'm also working on my May goals {which will undoubtedly run into June}:

the purple room I'm hoping to paint this week...
{see more of our old house here}
paint and finish the girls’ room - start prep work, clear out toys, paint ceiling
teach fitness classes
take family portraits on Friday
meet w/friends for Bible study
pick up more paint and samples at the paint store
grocery shopping- Sam's and Walmart

EntreLeadership: by Dave Ramsey - read as much as possible {I like this book- you know I love Dave Ramsey- but so far it doesn't seem applicable for me right now since I'm not an employer...so it's been harder for me to pick up and read}

Memorize 1 Peter 3:1-11 - write out and practice this out loud

a helper- easing the burden of someone else:
help my hubs get a patent on a product this week
help with painting upstairs and down
sub extra fitness classes {one yesterday, one Friday}

What are your plans for the rest of the week? If all goes as planned here, I'm thinking by tomorrow Friday it will look like a tornado hit our house! :P 

{Okay, deep breath in! Here we go... :)}

eating out... original food diet style

We love to eat out at restaurants. Food prepared by someone else... no dishes to do....ahh! I love it.

This diet made it really, really hard to enjoy a meal outside the house....for a while, anyway.
It took us a bit, but we found ways to eat real food at a restaurant, and even do it frugally. :D

Here's what I've learned about eating "original food" style when we go out:

1. Salad is good.

Salad is filling, fresh, and when served without meat or dairy, it's often very cheap compared to most entrees.

If you do go the salad route, be sure to avoid any cheese or dairy-based dressings. Sometimes we eat dressing on our salad, sometimes we don't. If we do, it's a clear {not creamy or chunky} vinaigrette, and if they don't have one, I get really crazy and make my own:

All it takes is a little honey and red wine vinegar and/or oil:

I try not to obsess too much about dressing at restaurants- I try to pick the healthiest option, and then I get it on the side of my salad and dip as I go.

2. Nix the extras.

Any time you're eating out, you'll want to try to avoid the meat, dairy, eggs, bread, croutons, cheese, pasta, and creamy dressings. Here's where there's a big distinction between just being a lacto/ovo/pesco vegetarian vs. vegan vs. an original foodie.

On this diet, we specifically avoid pastas, breads, and calorically dense flours. Most vegetarians and vegans will eat those foods, but we try not to eat bread or flour-based products because they are so easily digested and stored as excess. 

So when we go out, we don't eat the free chips, or the loaves of bread that are so tempting, however, we may or may have not been seen eating from our tiny salsa bowls with a fork....Ahem. :)

3.  Go for the sides servings of vegetables.

I'm amazed at how filling vegetable sides are! When you ask for veggies, try to request olive oil in place of the butter they usually smother them in. Plain potatoes are our favorite choice at deli's and Wendy's. I even went all out and ate two plain sweet potatoes at a steakhouse on Mother's Day! 

{note: some restaurants roll their potatoes in grease. I specifically did not ask if they did that to my potatoes that day. I'd been looking forward to their sweet potatoes for weeks, and didn't want to give them up! haha!}

We went to an Italian restaurant on a date a few weeks ago, and were disappointed to hear their minestrone was made with beef broth. Of all things! ;) So, our waitress got creative with our restrictions and had the chef prepare a side of veggies with olive oil: 

It was amazing! And, the veggies and salad together were less than 1/2 of the price of an entree there. Our dinner total came to $12! {note: this is when you should tip very, very, well. Enjoying a cheap meal means you should give a bigger tip, not smaller... :) }

Which leads me to:

4. Ask your server for help.

One time we were in a small town, hours away from home, and starving for lunch. We were thrilled to eat at the local Chili's, until we read the menu. They didn't have a single vegetarian entree or appetizer on it, and the sides were $2.50 each.

This was week two or so of the diet, so I was feeling pretty bummed about my choices {none}, until we asked the server to help us. She went to the manager, and found out that we could get any salad of theirs without the chicken and cheese for around $6. And, she could also offer us a bean and rice setup for $1.

If I hadn't been in the middle of the booth, I probably would have jumped out and hugged that woman's neck. Food somehow becomes ridiculously important when you're hungry! :P

Like the server at Carino's had done, she gave us options that weren't on the menu simply because we'd asked.

Lesson: don't be afraid to be a special needs diner. Ask as politely as possible, and they will probably be glad to help you. :D

And that's what leads me to the tip that's taken me the longest to learn:

5. Don't worry too much about it.

It's just food.

It's not the end of the world if they forget to take off the cheese, right? ;) This has been so hard for me- I've always hated cheese with a passion, and don't laugh, but I hate sending things back, so getting the wrong food {especially with cheese or mayo!} used to really bother me.

{I waited tables for years ...trust me, I know that most of the time, it's not a good thing to send back food! Servers, can I get an amen?! :P}

I've tried to loosen up about it a little more these days- if I think my dressing might have sugar in it, I just deal with it, eat some of it, and go on. Or if my very favorite food at a restaurant {sushi!} has a tiny bit of crab in a roll, it's okay to eat it.

I've learned that sometimes it's better to just enjoy the food you love {and are paying for} rather than to make yourself eat something you hate in place of it. :)

We go out to eat for pleasure first, so we always try to pick the good foods, and if it's just not feasible, we  try to eat the best choice and then go back home to our regular diet.

And it works for us. :D

So, I'm interested to hear your thoughts: how do you eat real food at restaurants? Do you have any tips for managing a whole foods diet while dining out? I'm still new at this, so I'm all ears!! 

thrifty pinterest love

I thought it would be fun to share my favorite thrifty Pinterest finds today!

here's a DIY anthropologie belt that I just LOVE:

And here's a tutorial for keeping the original hem on your jeans. So easy!
I need to do this on a few pairs of mine!

An adorable use for mason jars that would be perfect for my kitchen:

and here's the lamp that I want to do in my laundry room:

I have a recipe for nut tacos {mawahahah, I'm re-creating everything meatless!} that could use this seasoning:

and for all of you Target clearance shoppers, here's the markdown schedule for Target! Score! 
You can find me here on Pinterest if you like that sort of thing! :D

What thrifty projects have you found on Pinterest lately? I'd love to see or hear! 

Leave me a link to your page- I would like to follow you over there! :D

walking through the gospel: an introduction

I can't say how excited I am to tell you guys about this little project! :)

After I wrote this post, so much happened. I received so many emails from sweet people who really want to know Jesus, who want to walk with Him and truly live for Him. People who want to fall in love with Jesus, and not just go through the motions of Christianity.

I'm completely in awe of the work He is doing in all of your lives! The one, true, and living God- the God of Israel is the God of today- and He is accomplishing His work in the world today- He is bringing hearts to Himself, and displaying His glory among His people. Ahhhhh!!!! :D

I know that many of you long for that relationship with God, and that some of you are searching and don't have any idea where to start. The best and only place is in His Word, the Bible. We can't believe in Jesus based on what people say, or our friends tell us, without searching out the living Word of God.

His Word is truth and it's alive today- and we get to read it! Isn't that amazing??

Falling in love with Jesus is entirely possible when we get to know Him! But it's so important that we take the time to study and understand Him- and that happens when we read the Bible.

This is a human example, but imagine if you were dating someone and you told them you loved them and you wanted to marry them- but you were too busy to talk to them almost every day. You "love" them, but you don't have time to learn about them- what they did in the past, what they wish for in you, what they plan to do next.

How would that relationship really ever work? It wouldn't, right?

It's so much the same with God- falling in love with Him requires that we know Him on a deeper level than just by name. We have to spend time with Him every day- to listen to Him tell us all about Himself.

And that's where this project comes in! I'm so excited- we're going to walk through the Gospel together over the next 13 weeks! We're going to talk about who God is, who man is and where he stands with God, and how we can truly know the living God- through His Son, Jesus Christ. And it's all right there in the Bible!!

I'm praying this project will be kind of like laying the foundation for a relationship with Jesus. He gives us faith and love for Him- it's nothing we can do on our own, but getting to know who He is through His Word opens our eyes and splits our heart into a million pieces, and brings us to repentance so that we can have a relationship with Him.

It's so awesome. His Word is powerful, and so alive!

And we get to study it together for 12 weeks, here online! :D Eeeek!!! How much fun will that be? :)

I'll be giving you more details on the weekly topics and readings soon. Please pray for me, that God will lead me to write and speak according to His Word.

I'm thrilled beyond measure that He is our God, and that we can know Him, and even fall in love with Him. Praise Him for His Word and for His Son and the Holy Spirit.

Isn't He amazing?!!

linking up at:

original food menu plan #2 with a budget breakdown

Our original food diet meal plan for this week:

day 1: black beans and quinoa
day 2: black bean "burritos" {blended beans, salsa, and rice in lettuce wraps}
day 3: raw zucchini pasta topped with avocado, lime, and tomatoes {recipe coming soon!}, rice, and salsa
day 4: east texas caviar in lettuce wraps {use leftover black beans)
day 5: raw lasagna {recipe very similar to this one} and baby carrots
day 6: dinner out
day 7: leftovers or asian veggies with tamari {wheat-free soy sauce}, orange, and ginger.

our standard Sam's Club cart!
spaghetti squash {if I can get it at Walmart again!}
pinto beans and rice
cabbage salad with sunflower and flax seeds and hummus
roasted red potato wedges

almond milk

natural peanut butter

real food doesn't have to be expensive...

After doing this diet for the past few weeks, I think the most common misconception about eating real food is that you have to spend more money to eat well.

I've actually spent less money on groceries than usual because I'm not buying two or three loaves of bread, chips for $3-4 per lb., or lunch meat for $3.50 lb. Instead, the bulk of our diet comes from some of the cheapest, most filling foods: beans, rice, potatoes, lettuce, carrots, and oats- most of which are less than $1.50 per lb.

Many of this week's dinners are planned around black beans. Black beans are generally around $1 per lb. dried, and we eat 1-1.5 lbs. per meal. I make 3 lbs. at a time in our large crockpot- which should be enough for all of this week's meals.

Rice, potatoes and iceberg lettuce (like black beans) are also inexpensive to purchase. The bulk of our meals will come from these items.

Squashes make frequent appearances throughout the week. I've found squash to be the most satisfying food for me, so I eat it for most lunches. It generally costs $1.25-$1.50 per lb. A large spaghetti squash will provide most of my lunches for the week, while the hubs and kids tend to prefer beans for their lunches.

The most expensive meals on the menu are the ones with avocados. I plan to use one on day 3, and one on day 5. That will cost me $2 alone this week {pricey, compared to a family-sized portion of beans for $1!}. Quinoa is $5 per lb. for the organic version we use, so that will cost around $2 each time we eat it.

Nuts are the only real luxury item we eat, ringing in at $5-$6 per lb. We eat about 1/2 lb. per week of these as snacks and salad toppers.

The kids still eat their regular pizza or sandwiches and chips when we go out to eat, but at home, we've started eating only fresh fruits, nuts, seeds, and veggies for snacks, which can actually get pricier when you give out 4 oranges or apples at a time. We spend way more on this than we used to. At our house, fruit used to be a luxury and crackers the norm, but we're trying to reverse that! :)

the budget breakdown 

Here's my shopping list for this week:

organic carrots {$4}
spaghetti squash {$4 for one large}
5 lbs. of Granny Smith apples {$5.95}
cilantro {.50}
green onions {$1.50}
red potatoes 5 lbs. {$5}
coleslaw mix {$3}
cherub tomatoes- {$5 worth lasts 1.5 -2 weeks}
watermelon, $5
bananas 6 lbs., {$3}
organic spinach, 1 lb. {$4}
avocados, {$2-$3}
2 quarts of almond milk {$7}
canned tomatoes {$3.84 for 7 lbs.}
zucchini and squash - 4 lbs. {$5ish}
natural peanut butter {$5}
limes {$1}
lettuce {$2/2}

I spent $130 last week buying groceries with a very similar menu and list, but stocking up on walnuts, almonds, quinoa, Starbucks coffee, spring water, basil, and lots of seeds that will last us for 2-3 weeks, so I expect that this week's bill will be much closer to $80- $85.

Phew. :D I've got the menu all planned...now I just need someone to come and do the shopping for me! ha!

So, I'm really curious- what do you spend the most money on when buying groceries? Meats? Breads? Organics? And do you try to balance out the pricey with the inexpensive when you eat? Please share with us! 

the original food diet: the final stats

The results are in! 40 days of the original food diet will certainly change your body.

At least it did ours.

My husband lost 16 lbs. in 40 days- eating as much as he wanted to eat. He lost 3 inches in his waist!

I can't say how surprised I am at the results of this diet! I always liked the idea of eating real food. I was excited to see how my body would change. But I didn't expect change to come so easily after the initial two weeks.

Here's a summary of how I felt and changed:

Body: I lost about 4 lbs. in 40 days. I feel like I might have lost some muscle tone by this point- but I feel as strong as I used to be. I challenge myself to do heavier weights just out of curiosity, and I can do them. I've lost a inch or so off my waist and hips, and I can see more muscle definition. So even if I lost muscle, I guess I didn't need it!

I have a very steady amount of energy. I'm surprised at how good I feel when I exercise. I was sick and could barely walk on Monday, and by Tuesday, I was exercising normally again. I didn't feel the residual exhaustion of sickness that I usually do.

Skin: I was probably the most excited to see how this diet would change my skin. It's hard to see changes in your own body that happen so slowly, but I feel like my skin is softer, and some of my facial redness is fading into a more even skin tone. My acne has not completely gone away {depending on the time of the month}, but it is far better than it used to be.

Hair and nails: My hair growth has slowed down, as has my nail growth. Before this diet, I consumed some type of animal protein with every meal, and my hair and nails grew crazy fast. They've both slowed down but not stopped.

Mind: I feel happy about this diet, more than ever. I love that I don't have to worry about how much I eat, and how easy it is to eat vegetables at home. Eating out is very different and more difficult, so we can really only eat at one or two places. {eating out on this diet is a post all it's own!}. 

We generally call ourselves vegan now, because that covers what we don't eat. But I'm finding out that we fall closer to raw food vegans, even though we cook our food, because we don't eat processed food. :)

The decision: We've decided to stay with this diet indefinitely. We really, really enjoy eating good foods. Everything tastes better than ever- and we've lost our addiction to artificial sweeteners and fake carbs. Our bodies have changed {my husband's, dramatically so!}, and for now we couldn't be more excited about a diet.

I'll keep you posted on how we feel over the next few weeks as well. I have a feeling that the changes will continue! :D

DIY design sneak peek: birds, florals, and funky patterns

I've been dying to tell you guys all about the DIY stuff we've been doing lately! We're working steadily but not quite ready for the big reveal{s}. :)

For now, here's just a little house tour teaser! It's a glimpse of what I've been working on for the last couple of months. :D I've got a few new thrifty room makeovers almost ready for you! :D

Here are some of my favorite little design elements of the new rooms {in no particular order :) }:

Little birds in fun colors...

vintage red and yellow...

and fun shades of orange in chevron style...

and stained glass transom windows and fans aplenty. 
This house gets hot in the summer!

Bright florals....

new cabinetry {yayayyy!}....

and funky patterns make everything more fun...

Eeek! I'm sooo excited. I can't wait!

But I guess with four new rooms to show you over the summer, I'd better get to work! :D

 You know what I'll be doing in my free time from now on! :P

Have a lovely day, friends! :D

mother's day + giving up control

This was my favorite Mother's Day yet! We had some plans change at the last minute, so we had the chance to go camping after lots of Sunday fun. :D

I woke up to my little cuties bringing me these from some special hidden place outside:

It was the sweetest thing they have ever done. I was so excited. Noah told me later they were free from Atwoods {a local farm and ranch store}, where they even had the kids color a free card to go with them. How cool is that? Atwoods just scored some major brownie points with this mama! And thank you husband for shopping there! :D

We went to an early lunch on Sunday before we headed out. We went to a steak house {no, I still don't eat meat :P}, and while we waited tried to grab a pic. This was the best shot by far. 

Two and a half people looking at the camera is success in my book. That's half!

And we even ate a small piece of bread...

So what exactly do vegans eat at a steakhouse? {the waitress wasn't even sure}...

the veggie plate, no butter. {and I didn't ask what they rolled the potatoes in...some things are just better left unknown}

And I had a chance on Sunday to go and pick up a book at Barnes and Noble with a 20% off coupon:

And then we were ready to camp...

I had been really tired after the last couple of weeks of running, and we decided it would be fun to get out of town and enjoy the fresh air- no work, no internet, no house projects. We just both needed a break.

{don't let the ruffly pink shirt and gold sandals fool you... I can camp on my air mattress in the concrete shelter with electricity and nearby hot showers. We were roughing it. ;)

My husband treats all of his girls like princesses. He brought the Barbie Jeep along for his little girls:

Okay, so I gave him a really hard time for overpacking just a bit, but as soon as the girls hopped in their Jeep and drove it away squealing, "Daddy, this is so fun!" I knew his love language was caring for his own. :)

And this boy is turning out just like him, which I couldn't be more proud of.

He's such a trooper- a little man. He's only 8 1/2, but he's so grown up already.

We had lots of fun that night, and just relaxed and set up our little camp. We made a fire from the last person's embers. We team nested an old hot coal we found underneath the fire pit and took turns blowing on it until it became fire. It was so very Bear Grylls.

The next morning I woke up with the most dreadful nausea. {My first thought every time I wake up sick like that is inevitably, "oh my gosh, am I pregnant??" which is followed by a burst of adrenaline, then I start calculating days and such to see if it's possible before I make it to the bathroom. Four pregnancies made me so weird! ha!}

I walked the walk of death across the trail and up the hill to the bathroom. God answered my prayers, and gave me the hottest shower I could ever ask for at a campsite. Oh, after a night of not sleeping, my body was aching like crazy.

The kids found me {of course}, and I found out my little trooper had been sick too, and he hadn't even told his dad until he threw up the second time. He is such a little man.

We packed up and headed home. I've never been so grateful for a bed and Sprite, and a bathroom 10 feet away.

It's so funny how something so very small like a virus can make you so very sick.

I had all these plans for Monday- goals, menu plans, projects, teaching classes. I was supposed to be running again :), instead God had other plans for me. I slept for more than 16 hours yesterday, and I'm still tired today.

I'm so much better, but still feeling like I'm walking through quicksand.

It's so weird how I can think I'm in control of anything, and something so small can take me out just like that.

I'm such a weak little human- I can't control a single bit of my life. 

I can make plans, I can have ideas of what's going to happen, but it's not ever in my hands. 

Which could be such a scary thought if I weren't trusting that my God is good, and He loves me.

It so reminded me of this verse, Proverbs 16:9:
A man's heart plans his way: but the LORD directs his steps.

And this: 
Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.
Proverbs 27:1

At one point yesterday, I almost blacked completely out and when I was on the floor by the bathroom and my heart started beating so strangely, I laid there thinking I actually might die right now. It was so surreal.

We don't know when we will breathe our last. We just don't.
yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.
James 4:14

What should we ask for then, if we have such limited time?

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:12

“O LORD, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!
Psalm 39:4
What is man, that he is mindful of us? {psalm 8:4}

He loves us, and directs our paths. 

He made the entire world. He even controls that tiny little stomach virus. And our Mondays. And Tuesdays.

He loves us, and He is sovereign.

Every part of Him is good, even when our own plans fail {as they are destined to do!}. He changes our steps, and knows every part of our lives. He is control of every single thing. 

We are so, so blessed to be alive and moving and breathing today, aren't we?  :)

Did you ever have a time when God changed your plans like that? 

the original food diet: what I learned in 40 days

I just finished 40 days of the original food diet. 40 days of eating only real, plant-based food.

Three weeks ago, I was thinking this day would never come.  :)

I'm happy to say that today, 41 days after we started, I've never been more excited about a diet.

I've never followed any specific sort of "diet" before, so it was a completely new experience to have "rules" to follow. I mentally rebelled against the rules when I started. I missed my half and half and my salad dressings, and my granola bars. And the large {ridiculous} amount of caffeine I had acclimated my body to.

It's been 47 days since I had a Diet Dr. Pepper or any kind of soda. And coming from a serious ddp junkie, that's pretty much a miracle! I never thought I would give up drinks just like that.

I love the way I feel not drinking them. I love the way I feel not eating fake carbs like granola bars and cereal and cookies and chips. It sounds silly, but they drag you down and make you feel terrible. {coming out of 40 days without them, I can say that! ;)}

ah, dear cinnamon stromboli, you taste so good but I learned that you are not so kind to my body.

I've really learned a lot about myself in the past few weeks.

I always knew I had a love/hate relationship with food. I love to eat, I love to cook, and I love the way food tastes. I enjoy food.

But I had to micromanage what I ate in a way. I added up calories in my head, and the higher calorie empty carbs I loved often left me starving for more. Carbs and caffeine cycled in a way that kept me at high energy to exercise, but left me low after I was done. And it was always a delicate balance of trying to eat just the right amount so I felt good.

This way of eating has changed the way I feel and how I eat in so many ways! I have a steady source of energy, and I don't feel like I need to eat something all the time to keep it up. I'm rarely really hungry at all these days.

But what I was surprised by the most?

It wasn't the physical aspect of the diet.

It was the heart aspect.

I was kind of shocked to learn at least three different things during this challenge. I just never expected this to be any more than a surface level experiment. I mean, it's just food, anyway!

Here's what I found over the last 40 days:

1. I was finding my joy in food.
I had no idea that I put so much stock into what I was eating. When my favorite foods were taken away, I was nearly depressed. I didn't want to eat anything for a while. I couldn't have my favorite croutons, or bread when we went out, or the sushi I loved so much, or a piece of carrot cake on our date, and it actually made me feel sad!

I put so much anticipation and let my food choices control the way I felt. I don't overeat, so this was such a revelation to me. I loved food in a way that made it sort of an idol. It controlled my emotions. I misplaced my affections by finding so much fulfillment and joy in what I ate.

It might sound silly, but this diet has actually been a fast from my love of food.

2. Legalism is a battle I didn't know I faced.
Even though I love being given grace, I'm apparently a super rule follower {I'm sort of type A!}. I found myself being very mentally upset in social settings when I needed to eat something that wasn't on my diet. I said from the beginning, people before food- that I would choose to eat what was served by my friends and family because I loved them more than my diet.

But my heart still wanted to follow the law. I hated breaking the rules that I {a human!} had made. My own rules. Forget the big picture: that I was changing our entire lifestyle for the better, and that was on the diet for at least 40 days, and that one serving of something wasn't going to hurt me in the least. I was worried about the jot and tittle.

I found comfort in following the rules. And it makes me think about my spiritual life in a whole new way. How many times would I rather just follow the "rules" than the big picture- seeking after the heart of Jesus? Ahhhh.

3. Self-discipline is a very good thing for my heart. 
The past 40 days have been huge for my family. We've changed the way we eat, and I started the 12 hour challenge, where I stay offline for 12 hours a day so that I can lose my addiction to the constant flow of information.

Both challenges were extremely hard for me in the beginning. I felt like I lost my best friend or something. It was so difficult to let go of the things that I love so much!

But the results have been amazing. Disciplining myself to eat only foods that were good for me made me realize how poorly I was feeding my body in the past. Doing the same with the internet made me realize how much I was neglecting the things I needed to tend to in lieu of being in the know.

Disciplining myself actually brought me more freedom in the end. I now can enjoy whatever I want, because it's all good for me. Not being on the internet {a sacrifice for me}, gave me the ability to walk away from it and be present with my family.

I'm so glad to have walked through this 40 days.

It's funny, but I can't go back now. Freedom tastes too good. I love the food I'm eating these days- good, filling food.

We're staying with this diet, hopefully as long as we are living- but with one caveat- that we are allowed to eat meat, or dairy, or eggs if we feel it's important to the situation.

We will allow ourselves to eat a piece of cake on our special date. That's how I think we can stick to it long-term. We've changed our bodies to like the good food, but we don't want to leave behind every good thing and be all legalistic about it. :)

I'll update you with a physical changes post soon! I'm waiting to find out the final 40 day measurement stats! :D

Q: If you joined me, how did you do? I'd love to hear!

And whether you did or not, do you ever find yourself seeking joy from what you eat too? I'd honestly never thought about it before, but I placed so much emotion in to what I was eating! It was such a perspective change for me!

recipe: quick and easy veggie chili

This has become one of my favorite recipes on the original food diet
{can you believe it's the last official day?! I'm going to give a full report tomorrow! :D}

My husband loves McAlister's veggie chili, and for some reason it took me weeks to think of making a version at home. It's fast, easy, and super cheap. We love it! 

I thought it was definitely appropriate for a thrifty thursday post. :) We made it this week as you can see on our meal plan, and I think it's going to be a weekly menu item from now on.

It can be as easy as you'd like to make it. If you'd rather mince onion and garlic fresh, and use fresh tomatoes, even better! I like using the dried and canned versions at my house for easier meals. :)

Here's what you'll need:
5 cups of cooked pinto beans {can be canned- 3 15 oz. cans}
1 29 oz. can diced tomatoes {fresh is better}
1 29 oz. can tomato puree
3 tbs. onion, minced
3 tbs. garlic, minced
3 tbs. chili powder
1-2 tbs. of salt {to taste- I like 2 tbs.}
1 tbs. oregano
dash of cayenne {optional}

Stir all ingredients together {undrained} in a saucepan over medium heat for 5 minutes, then simmer on low for at least 15 minutes. 

The longer the simmer, the better the flavor!

You could also let it simmer on low in the crockpot for several hours for an even easier meal.

So filling, and so delicious.

Easy, frugal, and yummy. The best of all worlds! :)

What's your favorite go-to easy recipe?