Thursday, July 30, 2009

Wednesday Food Log (or lack of)

I woke up REALLY early with some serious pains. I thought they would go away but, alas, they only got worse. I have a nasty UTI. Oh what fun.

There was absolutely no way that I could go to the grocery store. But I did become very well acquainted with the bathroom. I also took 5 very hot baths and fell asleep in the tub once. I was just so exhausted.

I started taking antibiotics but of course they don't work instantly. Come on, drugs; work your magic!

Food: cereal + skim milk; lots and lots and lots of water; popcorn; soft pretzel from freezer

Not the healthiest but I wasn't too hungry. I just wanted something to fill the void and the pantry was pretty darn empty. I made pancakes for dinner for the family.

As soon as this mess is over I want to start walking and exercising regularly. I don't think I'll try killing myself with 2 workouts per day like I was before. That's just excessive and not something that I can maintain. 5 days per week is good for me. I'd like to add in spinning again because it's a lot of fun and burns lots and lots of calories.

Thursday (today) I did go grocery shopping so I should have a new recipe to share with you later if it turns out good. If it's nasty I don't want to share it. :) I also finally have some fruits and greens in the house again. yeah!

Friday we'll be going to visit my parents for Charlie's 9th birthday. They grow up way too fast. His birthday is Saturday so we'll be spending Friday night there. His Ben 10 party supplies came in the mail today (cutting it a little close, Fed Ex man!). I'm not exactly sure what Ben 10 is but I do know that he is obsessing about it.

So if you don't hear from me for a couple of days you know where I'm at and what's up.

Hey, I did peek at the scale today. Not bad! I haven't exactly lost weight but I haven't gained either. I'm practicing for my maintenance lifestyle. Yeah, that's it. ;-)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


So it's been a while since my last post. Bad blogger!

Life has just been hitting me at full speed and when I finally have a chance to blog I just want some quiet "me" time.

Busy teaching the kids most of the day, then running errands, reading, doing nature challenge missions (though we finished our last one on Sunday), playing taxi to the kids, etc etc.

My exercising has really been lacking lately which is not good. I am going to exercise today no matter what even though I did get up before the crack of dawn because it feels like I'm coming down with a UTI. Ugh. Haven't had one of those in years. Drinking lots and lots of water.

I hope to post some new recipes for you very soon. Today is grocery shopping day but the money tree in the backyard has died so I'm going to try to find budget friendly yet healthy options. Not always possible though. There may be a hot dog night tossed in there somewhere. :)

Weight loss? I haven't checked the scale and quite frankly I am afraid to look. I'll be checking next week and reporting the damage. LOL And this weekend is Charlie's 9th birthday so I'm getting ready for that.

Any suggestions for healthy budget friendly meals?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Robbers & Pork Chops & Cake--Oh My!

A policeman stops by on Thursday to ask me if I have seen anything suspicious in the neighborhood on Tuesday. A house two down from me was robbed during the day and the burglars parked the car next door to my house to load their loot. Kind of scary considering I was home with the kids most the day.

The officer said that there have been a lot of robberies lately and they are happening during the daylight hours typically from 8am until 1 pm. Our neighborhood has been hit twice in 2 weeks.

They may act like door to door salesmen and then force their way in at gunpoint when you open the door. If you don't answer the door, they knock down your back fence and then kick down your door. Some unfortunate homeowners have been tied up while being robbed.

My new companion is not a cuddly puppy but a shotgun that holds 8 shells. I refuse to be a victim.

This is happening all over, folks. Please be careful out there. Be prepared. Don't be a victim.

Other than a cop visiting, it was an ordinary day.

For dinner I made some oven roasted potatoes that were out of this world. I bet these would be awesome with some scrambled eggs and cheese wrapped up in a tortilla. Mmmm...and some salsa.
Also made these totally awesome (!) pork chops with chimichurri. Only 4 pts! Chuck loved the sauce so much that he even put it on top of his potatoes. Give it a try. It is a very fast dinner.
Rachel made her 2nd cake ever. She is improving with each one. I'm so proud of my little girl. She's growing up way too fast. I think I've mentioned that before. Isn't it cute?! (The icing recipe calls for an entire small can of Crisco!!)

After dinner we watched a documentary on mummies then made funeral masks using plaster bandage strips (found at typical hobby store like Hobby Lobby or Michaels).
Charlie's mask. He had to go 15 minutes without talking while it set!
Just coat the face with Vaseline, dip strips in water and apply to face. Smooth and let set for 15 minutes. Wiggle mask off and let finish drying.
Rachel's mask.
Chuck even got in on it. :)
Now we just need to paint them.
I have learned that if I don't exercise in the morning, the chances of me actually exercising decrease exponentially as the day progresses. I am going to have to start getting up earlier.
And my elbow is still hurting. I mean bad! I may have to break down and go visit a doctor. I hate going to the doctor.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

It's Opposite Day!

Usually we only like to show pictures of the healthy things we eat and hide the bad stuff. Today is opposite day for me! LOL

Wednesday the kids and I visited Sugarbaby's Cupcake Boutique in Houston. Just look at this cupcake goodness: (from top left: Charming Chocolate; Dippity Doo-dah; Dippity Doo-dah; Java Chocolate) Mine was the Java Chocolate. OMG! So good. The kids weren't terribly impressed with cake but thought the icing was good. They're quite the cupcake connoisseurs.
Here's how I justified the trip to a cupcake shop: Rachel is taking a cake decorating class so it's kind of like an elective in school. So we went to the cupcake shop on a field trip. Are you following me camera guy? That's it.....a field trip! It was for education. And I'm all about my kids' education. Ha!

Hey, I did eat "on plan" the rest of the day. Balance. Must have balance. :)

It has been 1 week and 1 day since the chicken mummification project started. Yes, I still have a chicken sitting on my counter.

Today the kids made canopic jars. The jars were used to hold the intestines, lungs, liver and stomach of the deceased. Our jars will hold pennies, trinkets and rocks. Maybe keys.

At the moment I am desperately trying to fall in love with my diet again. By diet I mean my everyday eating not diet as it has come to be known in pop culture. Even with all of these great recipes I'm kind of bored with it. Which is weird.
Maybe I'm just bored with the idea of "dieting" to lose weight. Maybe I'm settling in to the day to day routine of eating better. Maybe the honeymoon is over and it's time to settle in for the long haul. I don't know.
Tonight I will be making a new recipe. If it has a high nom nom nom rating, I will share it with you. :)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Just a Day in the Life

Tuesday was a nice normal day around the Happy Texan household.

I woke up at my usual 7ish am. That's a real time according to my Einstein Watch of Relativity: 7ish, 8ish, 9ish, etc....

Forced myself to get on the treadmill and walked for 1 minute and jogged for 2 minutes. Did that for 2.5 miles. I love seating now and I sure do a lot of it. It's kind of silly but I like to imagine that I'm sweating away melted fat and getting thinner and more muscular.

I also like to walk on the treadmill while watching cooking shows. Nothing makes me want to run like watching Paula Deen cook. Can she cook anything without a stick of butter? I think not. I am not making this up: I once saw her make a hamburger using two glazed donuts as the buns. I know!!!

After a good sweat and getting cleaned up, had an Amazing Grass Bar, and headed over to a chemical supply house to pick up citric acid (for Rachel's bath fizzies she likes to make) and some caustic soda (aka NaOH aka sodium hydroxide aka lye). Did you know that you used to be able to get lye at the grocery store in the form of Red Devil Lye drain cleaner? Can't any more. The feds were putting pressure on lye makers because lye is an ingredient in meth.

If you've ever wanted to give the gift of meth for the holidays, don't. Check out these ingredients: Drano, Brake Fluid, Lithium From Batteries (Battery Acid), Lighter Fluid, Rubbing Alcohol, Drain cleaner, Gasoline additives, Paint thinner, Freon, Camp stove fuel, White gasoline, Ammonia, Cold Remedies, Hydrochloride, Hydriodic Acid, Red Phosphorus, Lye, Ether (Starter Fluid), Iodine Ephedrine.

Ephedrine is a common ingredient in sinus medications like Sudafed. Since being used to make meth, you will often see it behind locked glass doors at the pharmacy now.

Ok. Back to chemical shopping. I was having trouble finding copper sulfate. If you ever need it, just go to a home supply store and pick up some root killer for septic systems. It's 99% copper sulfate. It's also used to kill algae in ponds so you might be able to find it at a water garden supply store. Just FYI.

Chemical roundup complete, we begin the experiment. The whole point was to be able to detect starches, fats and proteins in foods.

The first two tubes are for testing for starches using cornstarch and iodine solution. The one on the far left is the starch and the other one is the control.

The middle two were for testing for fats using veggie oil and alcohol. I was out of alcohol so I used hand gel. LOL It worked!

The last two were for testing protein using egg white and copper sulfate solution & lye water. The one of the left is the one with the egg white protein.
Things I learned from this experiment:
  • finding lye is a lot more difficult than I'd expect. Hope you don't want to make soap or hominy!
  • lye is used in making meth
  • handgel can be used as a substitute for alcohol and is a wonderful product.
  • lye gets extremely hot extremely fast when mixed with water. I did not know this and freaked out a little bit.
  • chemistry can be a little scary for those (ME!) who don't know what they're doing

To make the day more fun, here is a real conversation that occurred:

Charlie: "Mom, can I keep this daddy long legs?
Me:"AH! Get it out of here. That's not a daddy long legs!!"
Charlie: "what is it?"
Me: "A spider! Don't pick up things if you aren't sure what they are."

Lunch: turkey sandwich and some popcorn

Then school. Rachel also had to frost another cake for her class. These cakes have been giving her a fit. We've had the worst time with them falling apart or sticking to the pan. But this time I greased it like crazy and it worked out much better.

Things were busy and I just couldn't squeeze in another thing before her class. Took Rachel to class, went to the grocery store and came home. Breathed for a moment and then it was time to go get her at 8pm. We still hadn't eaten dinner so we went out to Gringo's Mexican Restaurant. Chuck and I split a fajita burrito (actually I had about 1/3) and we both got Mexican Hurricanes. Great way to end the day. :)

Oh, and Rachel's teacher showed everyone in the class a rose that Rachel made. Yeah! I know that made her feel good. She's been afraid that she can't do as well as all of the adults in the class.

And that concludes our broadcasting day.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Recipes: Cheese Stuffed Sliders (7 pts); Fettuccine Alfredo with Vegetables (7 pts)

Well, this past weekend I did better than the other weekends of total chaos and on-the-go life.

This picture pretty much sums up the weekend: I love the innocence of childhood curiosity. We were on a mission to find animal tracks. The kids found raccoon and deer prints.

I packed in the materials we needed to make casts of the deer tracks. How is that for a prepared mom?! I made some casts of another track but some kids from hell smashed it. Brats.

Here are the casts that survived.

I did try a couple of new recipes that were hits.

How about some Cheese Stuffed Sliders? These are filled with 2% cheddar and were very good and filling. I did not top them with grilled onions like the recipe called for. Next time I'll try that. You can tell from the picture that I like a lot of mustard on the burger. No ketchup, please.

And this recipe is now one of my favorites: Fettuccine Alfredo with Vegetables (7 pts) Yum! Just follow the link to get the recipe. :)
I think we're pretty much caught up. It's just been crazy busy for me lately with trying to play catch up with teaching the kids, the nature challenge missions, trying to lose weight, keeping up with Charlie's obsession with catching bugs, keeping house, etc. Busy, busy, busy. You'd think losing weight would be easy with so much going on! But I don't think it's ever really easy. Unless you're sick.
Speaking of busy, I need to go get chemicals for science experiments, groceries, teach, take Rachel to cake class and cook. Fortunately I already walk/jogged on the treadmill for 2.5 miles. Great way to start the day. :)
Tonight I think we'll start trying to learn Latin. Hey, why not?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

More Adventure (Hudson Woods, Katy Conservancy, Stephen F Austin State Park)

I apologize to those who are looking for a weight loss only blog. This blog is really about all facets of my life including exercise, weight loss, health, teaching, science, nature study, hiking, paddling, general outdoor life, and my family adventures.

I would like to report that food wasn't too terribly bad yesterday even though we were busy and on the road most the day.

Chuck cooked a good breakfast before we left for the day. Thanks, Chuck

Off to get a sneak peak of a place called Hudson Woods in Lake Jackson. We didn't have a lot of time for exploring but I have really wanted to check this place out since I found out it existed. I'm always on the lookout for new places to explore. Check out those gorgeous live oaks with Spanish moss! This area is a part of the Columbia Bottomlands ecosystem.
Saw some great spiders including this black and yellow argiope. They are easy to recognize because they write zig zags in their webs.
Time to go complete a mission at the Katy Conservancy where they work to preserve vanishing prairie lands.
On the dusty backroads we spotted what we thought was a bald eagle at first. VERY large bird with white tail feathers and white on its wings and we caught a glimpse of white on the head. It was having its butt handed to it by a mockingbird. Chuck got a photo and after zooming in we were pleasantly surprised to see it was a crested caracara! I've never seen one in person before.
These birds are in the falcon family but act more like a vulture in that they prefer carrion. Their range is from south Texas through Arizona down through Central America. They prefer open lands like the prairie, hence the need for a preservation of these habitats.
I have to say that I was disappointed with this mission. We only had access to this small, pitiful garden of prairie grasses in front of the field office. That's it. We were told on Fridays they have open trails from 9am-1pm. I'm glad there is a preservation effort for the prairie lands which is desperately needed for the vanishing flora and fauna but I was hoping for something a little more....I don't know.....explorer friendly? I just wanted to do some wildlife viewing.
Look at those storm clouds rolling in.
Had lunch on the road and then off to Stephen F Austin State Park for short hike.
The trails are beautiful and shaded. This represents the Post Oak Savannah ecosytem in the Houston area.
I looked on a tree trunk and saw this piece of fuzz walking! I picked it up and turned it over and it had some sort of larva with pincers. It looked like an ant lion covered in fuzz.
Turns out to be a green lacewing larvae. Very cool.
Where the trail meets the Brazos River is covered in a willow forest. It's very pretty. We sat by the river and looked around for a while. I found a shell fossil and piece of petrified wood. Also found some gar scales. The Native Americans used to make arrow heads with these.

On the way back to the trailhead we spotted several large moths. I have not found a positive ID on them yet but they were about the size of the palm of your hand.
Charlie on the Sycamore Trail.
There were does and fawns everywhere you turned. Here is one picture of several that Chuck took. I wish I could pet them. :)
Came home and I fixed a quick supper (low cal). Then went to rent a couple of Harry Potter movies since I've never seen one. We watched the first one. It was ok.
Today (Saturday) we are going to a dog show. We'll see where the day takes us from there. :)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Use the Fork, Luke!

I used the power of the force and resisted the Dark Side of the restaurants and fast eating Thursday. Yay for me!

I didn't exercise because I was exhausted. I went to sleep find Wednesday night but woke up around midnight in a panic attack. It suddenly hit me that Rachel is 14 and will be 18 in 4 short years. I lost it! It felt like a weight was on my chest and had trouble breathing.

Have I taught her enough? What should I have done differently? Anything? OMG, she will be driving soon! How can I afford a car for her? Will I have taught her everything she needs to know by graduation time? She's behind on math because it's always been her toughest subject so we don't move ahead until she has a firm grasp on a concept; therefore, we have moved slowly. She tells me she doesn't want to go to college. Should I push her or let her choose her own path in life?

Yep, I had a full freak out. It lasted until around 2:30am and I couldn't fight sleep any longer. I can't believe how fast kids are growing up. I can't believe how fast my life is flying by. Time used to go so slow when I was a kid. Did the clock speed up?!

I woke up fully recovered from the panic but very tired. I just have to make a 4 year plan. And if it takes a little longer, then so be it.

Breakfast: Amazing Grass pomegranate mango shake with chia seeds

Lunch: leftover Chicken Enchilada Casserole; watermelon

I also had a handful of coconut M&Ms. Those things are incredible.

Rachel had an experiment involving liver, hydrogen peroxide, and a toothpick. Place the liver in a jar with hydrogen peroxide. We didn't know it was going to have such a violent reaction. The catalase in the liver converts the hydrogen peroxide to water and oxygen in seconds.

She put the lid on the jar and let the chemical reaction break down the peroxide.She lit a toothpick and blew out the flame so that the toothpick just had a glow. Then take the lid off the jar and hold toothpick inside the jar. The high oxygen content from the chemical reaction lit the toothpick again! And it burned much brighter in the oxygen rich environment than outside of the jar. So COOL!
By dinner time I'm usually tired from a busy day. This has been my toughest part of the day. THIS is when I want to just go out for a quick meal. It's easy & I don't have to clean up afterwards. But I totally resisted and made dinner instead. And it turned out great!

Dinner: Open Faced Chicken & Spinach Sandwiches; baked sweet tater
Wanna hear something sad? My elbow is so sore that it hurts to bend my arm. All because I played too much Wii tennis in the evenings. LOL Can you get tennis elbow by playing Wii?!

I feel much better about my day. I got school done; dinner cooked; washed clothes; worked on a scrapbook page for the Nature Challenge. :)

Now if I can only do good over our busy weekend. That is a big challenge for me. I'll report back how I did. Planning is everything.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

It's Still A Struggle


The day didn't start with a cup of coffee or a healthy breakfast but changing the salts in the mummy-in-progress. The kids are great sports about this.
Breakfast: Green shake with Amazing Grass Pomegranate Mango & chia seeds & almond milk
Lunch: turkey, pesto, roasted peppers, muenster cheese on whole wheat toasted; peach; baked chips I can't get enough of this sandwich combo. It really is terrific.
One of our school projects was to make canopic jars for our mummy chicken. They were used to store the preserved stomach, intestines, lungs and liver of the deceased. Since there is no way in hell that I am preserving chicken guts, we are just making the jars and calling it a day.
I spread out painter's plastic on the floor and mixed up some paper mache. The kids used cleaned baby food jars to build the heads of the gods on top.
Did you know?
Some of the earliest mummies that were discovered appeared to be covered with bitumen, or pitch, a tarlike substance that becomes shiny and hard when it dries. The Arabic word for bitumen is mumia, so people began to call these preserved bodies "mummies." In fact, the blackened mummies were covered with resin-plant gum-that had darkened over the centuries.
About 800 years ago, people thought that bitumen had medicinal properties and would grind up the mummies to make medicine. The powder was supposed to cure everything from coughs and stomachaches to bruises and broken bones. Sometimes mummies were boiled to make ointments to put on cuts! But the mummies contained no bitumen and the "medicine" often caused vomiting, stomach cramps and bad breath. Even the king of France used mummy to treat his ailments!

Rachel then had to do a science experiment that demonstrated how cells use osmosis. She used potatoes & sugar. Love science.

I have a problem. I start each day on track but have been having trouble staying on track as the day goes by. Last night we had burgers. We ate out because Chuck was going to get home late and he was going to stop by the store to get some ingredients I needed. It would have put us eating dinner VERY late. So....we went out.
I thought that losing weight and eating healthy would get easier. It hasn't. It's still a struggle. Which really scares me. Will it be a struggle even after I lose weight? Does it ever end? Will this struggle be my constant companion for the rest of my life? If it is a companion, then it's a demon.
Maybe I'll name my demon so it doesn't seem so intimidating. I'll call him Fred. NO, I'll call him Vince. My weight battle demon is called Vince. Meet my demon:
The month of July has been a rough one for me. While I'm still determined to lose weight, I slip as the day goes by. I'm just going to have to be stronger. If I had will power I wouldn't be in this situation.
The one big difference between slipping now and slipping like I did in the past is I am still exercising. I am not giving up. Before I would just give up. Not this time. But I am still struggling.
Why can't I just have great will power? I think being prepared is essential to this. I must have a menu and all of the ingredients to make dinners.
I know that I will lose weight. There will be ups and downs. I was hoping that it would get easier but I am still struggling.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Chicken Mummification; Chicken Enchilada Casserole (5 pts)

My apologies for being the most inconsistent blogger lately. Between trying to exercise, keep the house in shape and doing school with the can get more than a little overwhelming. The blog suffers. I'll try to do better.

We are studying about ancient Egypt right now. Rachel LOVES this time period and knows more than most about the Egyptian gods/goddesses and culture. It's something that has always fascinated her. So a lot of times she is teaching ME about history instead of vice versa. Charlie.....he's just along for the ride. I'm doing my best to spark an interest in something for him.

Our project for Tuesday was to begin the mummification process for a chicken that was named Pharaoh Cluxor or Clucksor. The spelling is debatable at this point among scholars.

You have to wash out the chicken with water and then with rubbing alcohol and then dry it thoroughly. Charlie was talking about becoming a vegetarian after this which I thought was hilarious.
We also made our own natron mixture. It had all of the elements of the natron that the Egyptians used except for one: sodium sulfate. I also added spices to give it a better smell than mummifying chicken. After all, you don't refrigerate this thing.

Guess how long this process is going to take! 6 weeks!! That's commitment, my friend.

Lunch: maple turkey, pesto, roasted red peppers & mozzarella on whole wheat bread; baked chips; watermelon The sandwich was the best! Such a good combination.
Took Rachel to her cake decorating class. She was stressing because her first cake didn't come out how she wanted. But I think she did pretty good. She's never made a 2-layer cake and homemade frosting before.

Dinner: Chicken Enchilada Casserole; salad; slice of bread I really enjoyed this recipe.
After dinner I had a slice of Rachel's cake. I did take off the icing because she had to use an entire small can of Crisco to make it. That's a lot!!
It wasn't any one's birthday. She just wanted to practice writing with icing.
No exercise today but I still almost met my calorie burn goal because we were so busy.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

New Treadmill; More Adventure into Houston Wilderness

I am so happy I could dance. A nice salsa or waltz. My dear in laws gave me their treadmill. It's in great shape so I'll get to walk inside while it's hotter than a chapter from Revelation. It also has handles that move so I can pump my arms and burn even more calories. Burn, baby, burn!!!

We still have nature challenge missions to complete. Got up this morning and made some blueberry muffins from a mix from vitamuffin people and had some cantaloupe on the side. Nice.

Then off to Buffalo Bayou in downtown Houston. It was hot. REAL hot. But we're on a mission.

We retrieved our mission papers from a secret location and went over our plans: find native and invasive plants; make a nature journal entry; collect a leaf from both a native and invasive species. The message then self destructed but we're not sure if it was designed to do that or it was from the heat.
Found the tributary mentioned in the mission papers. Cool little place filled with fish and turtles and dragonflies. Peaceful.....and HOT.
Success! A native bald cypress. Woohoo! One part of mission complete. Secret agent Happy Texan needs to lose a few more pounds. That IS a challenge.
Agents Mini Me and Happy Shootin' Texan at peaceful tributary.
Agent Mini Me finds a wild onion. Cool. Not really. Nothing is cool out there today.
After completing missions and exhausting other agents, we go on a training mission to Houston Arboretum & Nature Center. No missions here...just nature. It's free, Happy Houstonians. And it's in Memorial Park.

At one pond were a bunch of turtles. They obviously get fed a lot because they started coming out of the water when they saw us. No food today, turtles.
A view of the shaded yet scorching hot trail. We almost lost secret agent Happy Shootin' Texan. Had to send Mini Me to look for him. He was trudging up the trail very slowly. We thought we would have to leave him behind but he made it. Good job, man.
Another pond. Can you spot the broad banded water snake? Non-venomous
They also had a rope obstacle course. I incorporated this into the training of my troops. Mini Me slipped and fell a couple of times but finally passed boot camp.
Every one fell asleep on the way home. They did great today.
After arriving home I started to get things out for dinner. Darn it!!! My rolls were molded already! Plan B: crap! The loaf of baguette has mold. Plan C: Son of a @*&^#!! My bell pepper is already squishy and bad?? What happened?
OK, everybody. Get dressed. We're going out. Agent Happy Texan has failed at Mission Feed Your Family.
Tomorrow: grocery shopping, treadmill, school (because I'm a mean mom) and cleaning house.