Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Once in a Leap Year Giveaway WINNERS!

It's February 29th! Time to announce those winners.  Are you excited? I sure am.

WINNER of Prize 1 Splendid Low-Carbing AND More Splendid Low-Carbing is Nikki McDonald. YAY, Nikki!!!

WINNER of Prize 2 Splendid Low-Carbing For Life Volumes 1&2 is Christina Ford. YAY, Christina!!!

WINNER of Prize 3 Splendid Low-Carb Desserts is Casey Russell. YAY, Casey!!!

Winner of Prize 4 Low Carbing Among Friends Cookbook is Stephen Schenk. YAY, Stephen!!!

***Didn't win but still want the books at a substantial discount? The folks at Eureka Publishing are offering a consolation prize to everyone by giving you a BIG discount at this SPECIAL LINK. It only lasts until March 14th so don't miss out. Everyone is a winner. :)***
Congratulations to all of the winners and thank you to everyone who entered. This was so much fun to host and it was great getting to meet a few new people!

Also, a BIG thanks to Eureka Publishing and Jennifer Eloff for making this possible. They're such wonderful people and I feel very fortunate to know them.

I will be sending emails to the winners to request mailing addresses. If winners can not provide mailing addresses by March 14th (two weeks) then a new winner will be announced.

Winners were chosen using random.org random number generator. The first 3 prizes are provided by Eureka Publishing. The 4th prize is provided by me.

Thanks for playing along!!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

True Confessions

Part of being a blogger is deciding how much information to share. Some people like to let it all hang out. Others are very secretive about their identities and personal life. But all of us have to decide where we fall on the spectrum. Do we only write about the good things? Do we admit when we slip up or feel down? Do we only report the highlights and skip the day to day boring tidbits?

I'm still finding my balance. This blog was started as a way for me to keep a sort of electronic diary of my adventures in life and getting healthy. I've learned so much along the way! I really never thought anyone would find my life interesting enough to come here to read about it.  I'm just an everyday person experiencing the same ups and downs that any other person experiences. There is nothing particularly exciting about my life but I enjoy it.

One thing I've had trouble with is accepting the fact that I do have some metabolic issues. The insulin resistance. The thyroid issues. PCOS (which upon further reading seems to be related to the insulin resistance?). Maybe a gluten intolerance?

Some days I accept all of this and decide "this is the way it is so just go with it." On those days I have no problem eating my low carb goodness. And I enjoy it! Even when people make fun of it I stand steadfast. It's not a problem.

Other days I want to be "normal" and go out and have a beer and pizza. Other people can do it and go on to live happy lives. Those days I have a bit of a pity party or I enter the great state of denial. "I'm fine! I don't really have those issues."

And this is the part of the blog where I share the bad along with the good. A couple of days ago I decided I was a normal person. I could have some pizza and go on to be a very healthy and Happy Texan. I wanted BBQ chicken pizza. I deserved BBQ chicken pizza! I work out so an occasional treat should not be the end of the world! All was right with the world and I was happy.  So Domino's delivered and I had pizza and loved every minute of it. Food brought right to my door! I didn't have to cook, clean or even leave my house. And it was sooooo good!

In about an hour I started to feel the effects. The first thing I noticed was my heartbeat increased. And it was pounding. Chuck held my hand and could feel the pounding in my fingertips. It was pretty bad and a little scary to tell the truth.

Then I began to feel nauseous. My head started to hurt and I became very sleepy as my heart continued to pound. I regretted that stupid pizza and got quite a reminder that I can't just have what I want. It's just not worth it.

Maybe it was all of the carbs at once? Maybe I have a sensitivity to gluten? Maybe both? I'm not sure. But I do have an appointment with Dr. Peter Osborne to have DNA testing to see if I'm allergic to gluten proteins and to discuss all of these issues. I'm really hoping to get off the thyroid meds. I want to fix the problem, not put a bandage on it.

Funny story about how I found him. My friend at 45and304 had "liked" a link on Facebook. It looked interesting so I clicked on it. I looked at the profile of the person that had posted the link originally. A doctor who lives in Sugar Land? That's right down the road from me!! I started reading on his web site about how he's helped people with thyroid issues and immediately called to set up an appointment. He's a busy guy so the soonest I can get in is April 26th. But I'm going!

Now 45and304 lives waaayyyy up north. But through her I was able to find this doctor who lives right down the road from me. Small world? Yup!

I certainly learned my lesson with that pizza though. I woke up all night long with anxiety issues and heart racing. It took a couple of days but everything is back to normal. Feeling good. :)  And that is my confession.
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Monday I had a Groupon for some eyelash extensions so I spent a couple of hours doing that and now have some gorgeous lashes. Love them! I'll have to put a picture up soon but I don't have one right now.

Breakfast was a couple of scrambled eggs with a little coconut oil and a tiny sprinkling of cheese.

Lunch: pork and venison sausage with broccoli and cheese. Sausage was meh. I like brand called Chappell Hill the best.

Snack: a few almonds

Dinner: Pan seared steak with butter pan sauce and a HUGE salad.
Sorry about the photo quality. I need to get some picture skillz.

We always grill steaks. To do otherwise would be heresy. But when it's late and you need dinner in a hurry you try new things. Ok, it's new to me.

Oh my! This is really good! Why have I not tried this before?

Pan Seared thick steaks: So all you do is pat the steak dry with paper towels. Season with a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper. Heat a heavy bottomed skillet on high until it's very hot. Put steak in skillet (make sure there is some space between each steak) and turn down temp to medium-high. Cook without moving the steak for 4 minutes. Flip the steaks and cook for 4 minutes for rare, 5 minutes for medium-rare, or 6 minutes for medium. Put the steaks on a plate and tent with foil to rest.

While the steaks are resting, I added some butter to the skillet and a few shakes of dried minced onion and parsley. Whisked then dumped in whatever juices the steaks had released while resting. Poured the sauce on the steaks and served. VERY good!!!

I went to bed with a happy tummy and no heart pounding.

Totally off topic but look how pretty my flowers are! They all opened! Still loving them.
They're so pretty they look fake. Thanks again, Chuck! Wait a second....is that your toolbox I see on the floor in the background?! Better not be.
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A little announcement: I'll be starting my own little challenge on March 1st. It's just a little something for myself to get me moving more.

I'm having a 3.1 for 31 Challenge where I walk and/or run for 3.1 miles every day for the 31 days of March. I did this in 2010 and felt great afterwards. Time to do it again.  You're welcome to join me virtually if you feel so inclined. Some days I'll be going further than 3.1 miles but a 5K is the minimum.
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Today is the LAST day to enter my Once in a Leap Year Giveaway!! Don't miss out. Winners will be announced tomorrow. *squeal* So excited!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Meat, Ghosts, and Zombies

Boo!! Wait, this has nothing to do with ghosts or zombies. I'm just trying out a clay mask. I was hoping it would erase about 10 years off but I still looked the same. ;)
 Thursday night Chuck and I had a Groupon for a Brazilian steakhouse that was about to expire so I made reservations and put on something nice. (Just so you know, I hate taking phone pics in the mirror. But here ya go.)
The place was called Angus Grill located on Westheimer in Houston. It's an all-you-can-eat meat fest. Very friendly to low carbers like myself.

We got a bottle of Malbec. It wasn't terrific but acceptable.
 These places usually have an extensive salad bar as well. Angus had one with a selection of steamed veggies and the usual salad toppings.
 You flip a card on your table (you can see mine is red in the picture above. If I flipped it over it would be green) to let the servers know that you're ready for some meat. They bring swords with different types of meat. I tried the chicken and a few cuts of beef. It was ok but nothing to write home about. Texas de Brazil is still my favorite.

Chuck is enjoying some ribs. Nom nom nom. He looks a little angry! Better not touch that man's rib!

Friday morning Chuck surprises me with a necklace he ordered. Wow! I was speechless. First flowers and now this?! I LOVE it!!!! Thank you, Chuck! Either I did something right or he did something really wrong. (joking!)
I had yet another Groupon that was about to expire so I made reservations to go on a ghost tour in Houston.

But first dinner. Did you know that any Subway sandwich can be turned into a salad? Steak and cheese for me with some ranch.
We met the ghost tour guide at the Sam Houston statue outside the Museum of Natural Science. It was an overcast and drizzly evening. The guide told us about the history of Hermann Park and we walked around hearing about deaths and apparitions.

Oh! Look at the orbs I captured!
Darn! They're just lights.

OK, I'm a skeptic. I'm ghost agnostic. I'm not saying they don't exist but I have to see it to believe it. Same thing with wild and crazy history I hear so I went home and met with my favorite historian, Google, and did a little research. Turns out that all of the history was a bunch of BS. Ugh. Hate that.

I mean some of it I knew he was wrong about (they do NOT mine pink granite from Enchanted Rock! It's a state park and protected) but when you tell someone that Hermann Park used to be a Civil War cemetery don't you think I'll check that out? There wasn't one single battle fought in Houston! Still, it was fun to walk around the park at night. And no, I didn't see any ghosts.

If you take it as entertainment and go to have a good time it's pretty fun. Don't expect any real history or ghosts though.
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Saturday morning Chuck had a shooting match and I had a date with the Zombie Squad.

What is the Zombie Squad? Their slogan is "We Make Dead Things Deader." But what they really are is the Red Cross with guns. Their mission is to teach the public how to be prepared for any disaster situation. If you are prepared for the zombie apocalypse, you're ready for anything!

The Zombie Squad teaches all kinds of skills and even does volunteer work with organizations such as Habitat for Humanity.

I got dressed in appropriate Zombie Squad outing clothing. And hiking boots!
 We met at a cannery where they can stuff in bulk. You just place an order then you get instant canned goodies. They sell things like rice, sugar, wheat, oats, pasta. Carb goodness. I really wanted to get in there and help. Looked pretty cool!
 Our group, led by the wonderful Merriwether (Mark), placed an order then all of the goods are brought up front for us to load. This all takes place at a Mormon church.
 Then we're off to the Spring Creek Greenway to learn about plants and nosh a few.

Merriwether (Mark) is an expert in many things (chemistry, Zombie hunting, gardening, surival) but he's a very well known expert with wild edibles. He's been on TV, in magazines, spoken at conferences, teaches classes, has a fascinating web site....I'm a big fan. I think he's pretty darn cool.

Mark shows us which books are good for foraging.
 Immediately he finds something that's edible right at his feet! Sow thistle. Most of these greens are quite bitter. But how cool is it that dinner could be growing in your own yard?!
 More edible greens. You call them weeds; I call them salad. Marks says to eat these.

But don't eat these. They lie flat on the ground. Not good eats. The bad part about wild edibles is not knowing the tiny differences between good eats and deadly eats. I may know just enough to be dangerous to myself.
 Mark says to make a tea from blackberry blossoms and leaves. Also can dig out the heart of the saw palmetto. More food. And don't buy property where saw palmetto grows. It indicates an area prone to flooding or swamp land. Not a good purchase unless that's just the type of place you were looking for!
 Oh! A luna moth!! We didn't eat it. But Mark has been known to eat bugs. Not today though. Interesting luna moth fact: they only live a week and do not have mouths so they do not eat.
 Mark says this smart weed tastes a little like jalapenos and is good with fajitas. I ate a leaf and it really is a bit spicy!! Love it. It looks similar to spiderwort which is also good eats.
Speaking of spiderwort, which I have growing as a weed in my landscaping, it produces little periwinkle colored flowers. BUT if the flowers are pink it indicated radiation and you should go to your fallout shelter immediately and stay down there for a couple of thousand years. This info might save your life!


Mark found this wild mustard plant and points out the distinct features with his pinky. Very dignified. I nibbled a piece (of the plant, not his finger) Very good flavor! A bit peppery. This is good eats.
 We pause a moment to look at the good eats growing in the lawn of the nature center. I'm telling you there is food everywhere. One member of the Zombie Squad insisted that it all just tasted green to him.
 Another Luna Moth!!
 The mosquitoes were very thankful for our presence and we became swarmed like a Golden Corral buffet on Senior Citizen Day.

Is it a puffball mushroom or a deadly nightcap? Hmm...that's what's dangerous with a little knowledge. You must know exactly what to look for to know the difference. Fortunately Mark knows what to look for and taught us. This happens to be the edible puffball but since it is more similar chemically to meat than to a plant he suggests it be cooked first.
 I love his classes. This is the third one I've attended and I learn something new each time. With each class I become a little more knowledgeable and a little less dangerous to myself.

After noshing on plants it was time for some real food. Corkscrew BBQ in the Woodlands is incredible!! They only had pulled pork left when I ordered but it was by far the best pulled pork I've had. They're in a portable trailer but have tables set out to eat at. You are also welcome to bring your own beer but they can not sell it. Very good eats. I had pulled pork, a little coleslaw and a salad.
I had a great time. But my day wasn't over yet! Nope, I had yet another Groupon expiring so Chuck and I went out to Alamo Drafthouse to see Wanderlust. The movie was ok. It had scenes that I can never unsee. Full frontal nude old people running in slow motion is just one scene. You've been warned.
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So I haven't been posting a lot of new recipes lately or drool-worthy pictures of eats. I've been making things quick and easy lately like chicken salad. It's nice to take time off from the kitchen from time to time. But I'll be getting my apron back on soon.
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TUESDAY is the last day you can enter the cookbook giveaway! Don't miss out. There are FOUR possible prizes. And it won't cost you a single penny.

BUT, you don't have to enter to get a great deal on cookbooks. Just visit THIS LINK to see the great deals that the publisher is giving to the readers of Happy Texans. It's only for a limited time so if you're thinking of ordering do it soon.

Happy weekend to you!! Mine is still busy. I'm going for a 5 mile run. How about you?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Random Quickie

*Monday night I used Chalene Extreme and lifted heavy. I really pushed it and it felt fantastic!!! 36 minutes of strength training

*Chuck had eye dr. appointment. Turns out that his tears dry quicker than they should. He got some prescription drops and hopefully that'll take care of it.

*While at the eye doctor we found some Oakley sunglasses we couldn't live without. I've never owned a "real" pair of sunglasses. They're nice! (Apparently it takes two people to hold a cell phone)

*Went to Luke's Locker and Chuck got himself a much needed pair of running shoes. Looks like I might have a running buddy. Put on your sunglasses! These shoes are bright!

*Speaking of running, Chuck decided to do a half marathon with me. April 1st will be his first one. Who needs training?! Actually he'll be training with me. Fortunately I'm very slow so it shouldn't be too hard for him. Angie's Half Crazy Half Marathon. How appropriate!

*Dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings. Naked Tenders, hot sauce and salad. Very tasty.

 *Tuesday night Chuck surprises me with flowers! And he didn't even do anything wrong. Wow. Was very sweet and very appreciated. Love surprises like that. It just makes ya feel special. :) (Thanks for the pretty flowers, Chuck!!!! I love them!)

*Haven't been weighing every day like before. I feel much more sane this way. I'll check it soon though. Just to make sure I'm headed in the right direction.



*Don't forget about the BIG giveaway!!! You can't win if you don't enter. You only have a few more days. Winner will be announced February 28th.

*Eureka Publishing is offering some awesome discounts on low carb cookbooks. It's only for a limited time so use this SPECIAL LINK to get to the sale page. Great prices; great cookbooks.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Pecan Pie Cheesecake and Peanut Butter

Happy Monday!

I did about 15 minutes worth of abs exercises (including planks) Friday and I'm still sore! Crazy, I tell you. Under my protective layer of fat I'm going to have a killer six pack!  I had to get out the yoga mat for the planks because last time I got carpet burns. Ouch. My kitteh decided to try some yoga moves too. I think she did it wrong.
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Check out this cute idea for tracking weight loss. I'm a visual person so this is right up my alley. Though I'm not crafty at all. Would it be wrong to fill these with M&Ms? Just wondering. Or chocolate covered almonds? Think I'll stick with marbles. Hey! If I lose weight does it mean I've lost my marbles?!
Idea comes from this blogger right HERE. So very clever, don't ya think? Instructions HERE.

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Saw this shirt at Target and almost got it but I could see my hand when I held it under the shirt. Don't want to walk around giving peep shows all day. Why can't white cotton shirts be thicker?! But cute shirt nontheless.
Such true words. Isn't bacon its own food group? I'm pretty sure it is. It's like a vegetable or something.

Sunday the family got in Vincent Van Go (the miniature van) and headed to Beaumont area to see my parents. My mom's birthday was last week so I brought her some goodies.

The birthday cake was this low carb Pecan Pie Cheesecake. Delicious! And only 2.6 grams net carbs per slice!
Just look at it! Mmmm.....so good. Everybody loved it.
The recipe is by Kent Altena and can be found in Low Carbing Among Friends cookbook. 

You can get the cookbook for FREE by entering my BIG giveaway. There's only eight days left to enter. Winners will be announced on February 29th. There are FOUR prize packages so four winners! Yippee!

I also made up a batch of these peanut butter bars. They remind me a lot of Reese's. Yum! I think it's 1.9 grams net carbs each.
These are from another recipe by Mr. Altena. Everything I've made from his blog has been great. As a matter of fact, the family was cravin his Garlic Parmesan wings again Saturday so Chuck and I made up a big batch. I'm thinking of trying them with chicken strips instead of wings next time.


All in all a very good weekend. It's a Monday which means it's time for me to go for a run! See ya tomorrow. :)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Fishy Friday

Friday night Chuck and I went out to Kemah for dinner. We haven't been out there in so long! It was a drizzly night which means we were pretty much going to have the place to ourselves. Just the way I like it. I think it was the same type of weather last time we were out there!

First stop was the bar at the Aquarium restaurant. It was really pretty with blue lights everywhere. Did you know I have a thing for lights?
 I had a martini. I know, I know. Not really supposed to be having alcohol just yet but it's my night out and this was 0 carbs. And yes, the body processes it differently. But I wanted a martini so there it is. ;)
 It was still happy hour at the bar and that included discounted prices on oysters. Raw oysters. I'd never had a raw oyster but curiosity got the better of me. Chuck and I decided to split it.
 Well....it's a lot like I thought it would be. Like eating snot from the ocean. But with enough horseradish it's spicy snot. Chew once, swallow quickly.
 Time to be seated at our table. Great view of the huge aquarium in the center of the restaurant. When I had Chuck's 40th surprise party here I got a diver to go in the water and hold a happy birthday sign for him.
 I LOVE lights! Look how pretty the ceiling is. Ooooh. Pretty.
 The whole restaurant has a blue glow and an underwater feel to it. Those are little fish lights hanging from the ceiling.
 Of course I had to get up and explore a little. I got up close and personal with this big grouper. Very cool!
And how cool is this eel?! Very!


Having a very good time. Cheers! Still can't believe I ate raw oysters.
 I had the grilled salmon with lump crabmeat and mixed veggies. Mostly squash. The fish was a little....fishy. But the crabmeat was perfect!
 Then it was time for my favorite part: feeding the stingrays at the Stingray Reef downstairs!!
 See all of those little baskets of fish. All mine! I think Chuck dropped like $50 on fish for me that night. It was bliss. I had so much fun!
 It may look like this guy is devouring my hand but he's just sucking the fish out of my fingers. They're so cute!!!
Here's a little video of the experience. Look how the rays jump up and down. They remind me of little puppies begging for food.


We then went back up to the bar to hang out for a while longer.
 It stopped raining for a little bit so why not stroll down the boardwalk and...holy cow! It's a night heron with laser eyes!!
 Ah, the boardwalk. There were only a couple of other people braving the elements so it was nice to have it practically to ourselves. I like seeing the night birds.
 After our stroll we weren't quite ready to go home yet so we went to a pub that the bartender recommended called Boondoggles. Pretty cool place! We stayed for a little bit and headed home.
We had a great time!! I wanted to bring a stingray home with me but was told no! Can you believe that?

I would like to mention that I was a good girl and got in my exercises before we went out. I did core exercises (ouch! Very sore abs today) and upper body strength training.

*Don't forget about the cookbook giveaway! You've got 9 more days to enter!

Have you ever tried raw oysters? Do you like them?