Jul 31, 2014

Getting Ready for Back to School!

School starts for us in two weeks and I can hardly believe summer's about over. To be honest, I was pretty anxious once summer started for school to be back in session, mostly because with all the kids home (mine and daycare), things feel more hectic and of course there's a lot more fighting and all that goes with several little bodies in one space. #badmommy But I also crave the routine of the school year. I am a planner (if you hadn't noticed), so I'm usually most at ease when I know what's happening and when so that I can plan out my day. During the school year that's a lot easier because everyone else is also on a schedule. Summer tends to bring more relaxed routines, and someday I hope to be not so busy so that I, too, can enjoy that!

Things to plan/buy/organize before school starts:
*School supplies
*Sleeping/eating routine
*School calendar

 I tend to be early getting ready for most things...you know, except when I procrastinate, which also happens. School supplies were bought a couple weeks ago, and I was "that mom" who emailed the school secretary for the list before it was sent out. Faith's uniforms are bought and washed, she has a new backpack, and I have plans for healthy lunches (which usually lasts a day but I'm going to try and be better). #yeahright

One thing I haven't done yet is to start getting Faith's bedtime schedule back on track. It's best if you can make bedtime about 15 minutes earlier a week until you get to the desired bedtime for school. Normally Faith's summer schedule isn't much different than her school schedule, but since she's seven now she usually can tolerate a somewhat later night that she used to. She's enjoyed some later fishing nights with Dad, some sleepovers, and she just generally isn't falling asleep as early...maybe because of the long daylight hours. She has another sleepover planned for Friday, but with the exception of that night, it's my intention to get her to bed earlier so we can get on schedule for school. Since going to bed at 8:00 has meant falling asleep 8:30-9:00 (sometimes later), we'll have to start getting her to bed closer to 7:30 by the time school rolls around. Gradually waking her earlier each week will help as well (that will probably do the trick more than anything).

She also hasn't been interested in eating breakfast, so I want to make sure she's getting up early enough to want to eat and have time to eat breakfast...very important for a school day!

I just found the school calendar, so I got all of those dates transferred to my planner. I like to have all the vacation, in-service and early dismissal days in my calendar right at the start so I don't forget. It helps plan daycare days, long weekends for out-of-town trips, and keeps me from being the mom who didn't pick their kid up at early dismissal. Of course now I said it so this will be my year. ;) I think the only thing left to do is label school supplies!

It's not perfect, I'm not perfect, but all the prep certainly helps! When we get the last minute notice about open house, I'll have everything ready to go! Next week I'll try and share some more specific ideas for back-to-school organization!

Jul 28, 2014

Weekend Recap and the Start of This Week

This is week is starting out in a whirlwind and I'm finding myself wondering where summer went already. I definitely got less projects done this summer and this year so far in general, and Faith and I have yet to get to our local pool. We did fortunately get to a friend's pool twice, and the river, and we will go to the city pool for their big bash before school is back in session. We've done a lot of fun things but it certainly hasn't been the relaxing, laid back summer I'd hoped for. Hopefully fall will be better!

Friday night Kim and Mya came over to do nails with Faith and me. I recently bought some supplies from Amazon on recommendation from my sister-in-law who got everything she needed to do her own nails. Her nails are always super cute, but apparently I need lots more practice!

#morepracticeneeded #canyousaysloppy
I managed to work on organizing our bedroom closet Saturday, and started the front closet as well. I have some more tweaking to do, and will share the final pics with you once I'm done. I had hoped to start painting some furniture, but it was too hot and humid and I figured I'd be fighting a losing battle. It was a perfect day to be in the basement, though, so I also worked down there. We have a lot to do to make room for the basement people to come and fix the settling issues. There's supposed to be 10' of room from each wall, and since they're working on two walls and our basement isn't very big, that doesn't leave a lot of room for all the stuff that's being stored down there! I purged another box full and donated to my mom's church sale that will benefit their youth trip. If I can't sell it, I always feel better knowing it's going to a good home or a good cause.

I also had an opportunity to teach Faith to sew a button Saturday! She had lost one off a pair of shorts that she regularly wears, and she was anxious to try sewing herself. I'm so glad and hope that I can remember how to use my sewing machine so we can start doing that together.

Projects came to a halt Sunday because I sang at church and then we headed to my hometown to spend the day with my family. We had a great time at the pool that I used to spend every summer day at (what happened to those days??) and I managed to stay on my diet for the first time away from home. Yay!

pool day!

Speaking of diet, I'm on day 7 and have lost a few pounds so far! The itching on my legs is worse, but from what I've read that's to be expected as the candida dies off. I feel good, and as long as I stay on top of having a few things cooked in advance (chicken breasts, salmon, quinoa), I'm not having much trouble finding things to eat. I did a lot of chicken and lettuce wraps last week, and having the meat, veggies and quinoa seemed to be the best for my energy levels and to avoid the brain fog that I'm having occasionally (also read that's normal). Feeling more trim is definitely great motivation to keep going, and though I was bummed to not be able to sample the apple pie my hubby and daughter made the other day, I haven't really been tempted by cravings.

Otherwise I've just been busy learning new Jazzercise routines, getting groceries, and getting ready for the county fair. This is Faith's first year in 4-H and we have to gather her exhibits and make some cookies for the final one, and then tomorrow evening we turn them in. I'm also volunteering to help for a couple hours, and found out a week ago that each club has a themed and decorated booth where the exhibits are displayed. Soooo...my grocery trip last night included last-minute decoration supplies for our booth. That's what I'll be working on this evening!

How I feel now, too. ;)
I'm taking the kids to the children's museum tomorrow for one last summer field trip, so we won't be around much. I've anticipated that so I know any projects due for tomorrow evening pretty much have to be wrapped up tonight. I'm ready to push through and am looking forward to Wednesday when I can breathe a little more! :)

Jul 25, 2014

Anti-Candida Friendly Chocolate Shake & Froyo! {Fitness Friday}

It's day four of my diet and things are going well! I've found foods that I can get excited about, so far I'm staying on top of cooking and food prep so things are ready to go, and I'm down three pounds so far! As for the skin, the break-out on my torso, which I may have not ever mentioned, is very faded. That particular "rash" consists of brown splotches (the kind that don't tan), just below and around my bra line on my chest, and a dermatologist told me it's a fungal thing, basically a yeast infection on my chest (part of why I started putting two-and-two together that many of my issues were probably related). I've decided that particular skin malady is a good indicator of how I'm eating, because it will pop up really fast and also fade away just as fast whether I'm eating poorly or well. The psoriasis-like stuff on my legs (technically lichen planus) is still itchy and still there, though it seems to be somewhat drying up, which I've found is usually how it heals. (I finally took pics, but since I'm also posting food today, decided to hold off sharing. I mean, ewwww.) I've read that symptoms can get worse before they get better as the body detoxes, so I'm not discouraged by this. Yet. Going into this knowing what to expect and that it can be a month (or more) has been very key to keeping me on track.

My Ninja Ultima - saving grace on this diet!
I have not been hungry. I'm eating three meals a day and two snacks. One of my favorite meals now is lettuce wraps...romaine lettuce leaves with cooked chicken, cooked quinoa and coconut aminos (a great diet-friendly soy sauce substitute). They're delicious! So far I've had a yogurt and/or almond milk smoothie at least once-a-day for a snack, and that's been really helpful. (Love my Ninja!) Today I opted to try without the yogurt and what I came up with tasted like an icy chocolate shake! I was just sure I'd cheated somehow on the diet since it tasted so good, but with the exception of the oats (I need to buy gluten-free oats...but I forgot about that while making it) it was truly diet-friendly. Granted, I'm no doctor, nutritionist or candida expert, but I've done my homework. Here's the recipe:

So good I drank over half before remembering to get a pic!
ACD Diet-Friendly Chocolate Shake
*I don't measure when I make smoothies, so feel free to throw things in. Measurements are approximate.

Small handful (2-4T?) whole almonds
About the same amount of oats (gluten free oats...or omit this for the diet)
2 T raw cacao powder
1 T raw cacao nibs
2 c almond milk
Stevia drops - about 12 (no preservatives - I use NuNaturals)
handful of ice

First blend the almonds and oats (if using them) to create a powder. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend. Pour and enjoy!

I found that by leaving out the yogurt that I usually add in, and including ice, the milk got nice and icy like ice-milk ice cream!

If you're worried about the cacao powder, because most anti-candida diets say "no chocolate" and "no caffeine", I think we're good here. First, natural cacao doesn't have caffeine. Here's an explanation on that from realrawfood.com:
Caffeine and theobromine. There is a persistent urban legend that Chocolate contains caffeine. It would seem that this rumor is based primarily on a confusion between two similar alkaloids: caffeine and Theobromine. Theobromine is the active ingredient in Chocolate and it occurs only in Cacao. The two stimulants are related and have a similar structures, but are very different chemicals with different properties, effects and origins. There are of course, some Chocolate products that have added caffeine, but it does not occur naturally in Chocolate.
Second, it's sugar free! Be sure to get the raw stuff...no Hershey's here! Without the ability to have peanut butter and bananas in my smoothies, the addition of the raw cacao has been a Godsend! Another great frozen treat I discovered was this chocolate froyo recipe I came across on Pinterest.

Chocolate Protein FroYo Recipe!    6 ounces nonfat plain Greek Yogurt  2 TB unsweetened baking cocoa  Stevia to taste    Stir all ingredients until smooth. Pop in the freezer for 30-45 minutes. Enjoy! I originally made this as pudding. But if you freeze it, it actually tastes almost exactly like frozen yogurt! So in other words… you could eat this without freezing it! Super simple and healthy!
VIA Muffin Topless
Of course I made one minor adjustment on the cocoa and used my raw powder, but otherwise it's just as she describes (take 6 oz yogurt, add 2 T cocoa/cacao, and stevia to taste). I put the bowl in the freezer uncovered and the edges got nice and icy...I may leave it in like that even longer so the entire thing is that way. Mmmmm...

Well, leave it to me to find a way to include chocolate in any diet! You're welcome! ;)

Jul 24, 2014

Pinterest Organizing & Freezer Label Inspiration

Having my evenings free lately has been so nice, but so far I've been pretty unmotivated to get a lot accomplished. Having the evenings to just sit and do nothing has been wonderful for a change. I expect my ambition to fuel again soon, after the novelty of actual "free time" wears off, but for now it's probably best if I plan those kind of projects that I can do lazily in front of the tv. Two birds. One stone.

I did one such project yesterday. I spent more time than I'd like to think about yesterday attempting to organize my Pinterest boards. There are many (104 to be exact...after I deleted some) and I'd like them to be organized. (Go figure, right?) I have attempted to drag-and-drop my boards into a beautiful alphabetical and categorized bliss, but every time something goes wrong. I thought it was going well, yesterday, and in my head thanked the Pinterest people for whatever they may have done to simplify the process. But when I went back this morning, most were jumbled back up. #ohthesadness What I wouldn't give for them to allow us to organize our boards in a list view! I may have to suggest that.

In the meantime, I have some new fridge and freezer storage (new as in a couple months old) that needs some labels so I can share with y'all, so I'm gathering some inspiration for that. I want to make sure whatever I pick will be able to be changed when the contents change, and will stay stuck but maybe come off easily down the road if I want them to. #idontaskmuch

Here are some that I like...

IHeart Organizing: Monthly Clean Home Challenge: The Refrigerator *Love the idea of having sandwich things in one bin, snacks in another, etc.
I Heart Organizing
Of course Jen's always got a good solution, and I love how she categorized by meal rather than type of food. This way you can grab one basket for everything you need, like smoothie ingredients. So simple and yet so genius!

Freezer Organization  - that's what I need...something taller to contain stuff on the top shelf!
Better Homes & Gardens
Not as colorful or fun, but easy and effective! My label tape comes off pretty well, so maybe some Washi tape and a printed label will be the way to go!

60+ Innovative Kitchen Organization and Storage DIY Projects - Page 44 of 60 - DIY & Crafts
Better Homes & Gardens
Laminated cards secured with what appear to be plastic ties...love that, too! 

Now I just have to make a decision, put on an episode of Young & the Restless, and get to work!

Jul 23, 2014

Anti-Candida Day 2 & Forgetting Photos!

One of the detox symptoms of candida, and incidentally of the disease itself, is foggy brain, and apparently I was having a case of that on day 1! I realized that I meant to post photos of the wood table I was talking about and never did. And to make matters worse, when I went to update it today, I realized that when I took said pictures, the SD card wasn't in the camera...but was still in my laptop! Oh boy. Soooo, guess I'll post pics of those later!

I won't document how the diet is going every day, and this won't turn into a diet blog, but right now it's big on my mind and is also already proving to be an energy drain, so it's about all I'm succeeding at getting done.  I also want to share how things are going, what's working and what isn't, and what recipes I'm enjoying for those that may find themselves also wanting/needing to try this diet. Yesterday went pretty well, but I was definitely more tired last night and could have gone to bed way early. I drank a ton of water, which is a great thing. With daycare I'm not always great at remembering. This morning, though, I really felt out of it and was very fatigued. I wondered if I was going to have enough energy to push through Jazzercise class, but as is usually the case, Jazzercise woke me up and it went well. I was a bit more tired/fatigued than normal, but otherwise felt good. Even now, a few hours later, I'm hanging in!

One thing I realized is that I need to be more conscious of getting fats in. Normally that's no issue for me, as I have two eggs every morning for breakfast, have been drinking whole milk for quite a while now, and love meat and fish. But without the ability to have hummus with my veggies, or fruit with my smoothies or yogurt, or peanut butter, things that I normally eat aren't as appealing. I only like avacado on something. I need something sweet with my plain yogurt, even if it's lightly sweetened granola. And I'm not a fan of almonds on their own, especially unsalted.

I made coconut muffins from the book and though they're not fabulous, they are good and are a great on-the-go breakfast or snack. I've been having them for breakfast, so I need to be mindful of getting my eggs in later, maybe deviled eggs as a snack (found some yummy alternative recipes in the book and here.

Deviled Eggs
VIA www.thecandidadiet.com

Last night I made zucchini tots because I'd bought three zucchini for a recipe that had some ingredients I couldn't eat now on the diet. I tried coming up with some ingredient swaps but nothing was sounding great, and since they were getting soft I knew I needed to do something with them. I found this recipe and altered it.

I doubled the eggs, ommited cheese and substituted almond flour for bread crumbs. More like a quiche but yummy!
VIA Emily Bites

Here's my adaptation of her recipe:
(I doubled hers to fill my 24 cup mini-muffin pan)

2 cups shredded zucchini
1/2 medium onion, chopped
4 large eggs (I doubled the eggs in lieu of cheese)
1/2 cup almond flour (instead of bread crumbs)
salt & pepper to taste

Basically mix it all up, scoop into the muffin tin, and bake at 400° F for 15-18 minutes. I greased my muffin pan with coconut oil but they stuck, so maybe use liners for this version of the recipe.

They turned out good, but with all the egg are almost more of a quiche. I had enough zucchini to grate two more cups, which I froze for future use.

I also miss smoothies, which I used a banana in for sweetness and peanut butter for protein. I'm not a fan of stevia as I can often taste it, but decided to try a new version of a yogurt smoothie for more protein and fat, especially post-workout. Here's what I came up with (didn't think to take a pic, sorry!):

Crystal's Almond Cocoa Smoothie
I didn't really measure so measurements are approximate
2 T or so (very small handful) of whole almonds
1 T raw cocoa powder
1 cup almond milk (unsweetened)
1/2 - 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
8 drops Stevia (with no preservatives or additives)

First I put the almonds in my Ninja Ultima Blender and then pureed them. In my experience they need coconut oil or something to make a paste like almond butter, but for this purpose and almond "powder" was fine. I added the rest of the ingredients and a handful of ice so it was nice and cold, and blended it up. Pour in a glass and enjoy!

Jul 22, 2014

Anti-Candida Diet Day 1, Great Weekend & Finding a Stud

If I meant a manly stud, a horse stud or a wall stud you will have to keep reading to find out. :)

I think I'm ready to tackle a new week after a nice three-day weekend! Friday night I enjoyed some outdoor social time with friends, Saturday Faith and I found treasures at garage sales after I taught Jazzercise, and we enjoyed a family dinner out for Mexican food after I sang at church Saturday evening. I finally got productive Sunday and it was a great feeling to knock some things off my list. Not having anything scheduled all day helped a ton, and I kept looking at the clock and thinking, "It's only 10:00...it's only noon...it's only 1:30!". There's still so much to do but I finally got moving, so that was good!

Yesterday I had the day off, so Faith and I did a little shopping and spent the afternoon poolside at my friend's house. I had enough time in the evening to do some laundry folding and general picking up, and made a couple recipes in preparation for my diet to start (more on that in a minute).

While trying to be productive this weekend I searched our paint stash for black paint for the black dresser/buffet in the living room. I found one-and-a-half cans of black enamel paint, so I hope to make quick work of that this week or weekend (free...yay!). I also did more purging, sold more stuff on Facebook, and swapped out daycare toys.

In preparation for our basement to get fixed I'm working on cleaning up, purging and moving things out of the way down there. I've had a small wood table/desk for quite a while and wanted to use it as a craft/sewing table upstairs once I was done doing daycare. With the basement repairs looming, I thought maybe I'd use it instead of my desk, but after all the time we put into it, and since my binders have a place in the desk, (and I still love it) I decided to try both in the same room...at least until the basement is done. I have plans to paint the table legs and restain the top, and the cup pull I bought and couldn't use now has a place to go! The chair also will be getting a new color. I think this will be a great workspace for Faith and me, and the kids can color here, too! I even repurposed my old wood tool box and a couple coffee cans that I painted (awaiting a third) to use as a marker and crayon holder!

I hope to wrap up the kitchen projects before taking on much else, so I've been gathering ideas for the new light fixture and the baker's rack that I want to redo. And after thinking more about my open shelving dilemma (Brad said he couldn't find the studs to install open shelving because we have plaster walls), I decided to search online for a possible solution to finding studs behind plaster walls. Brad had me convinced it couldn't be done, but I was sure there had to be a way...and by golly, I found it!!!

He's a bit cheesy, but the fact that he's Australian makes the video more fun to watch. And I thought he was pretty funny anyway. Brad still wasn't convinced after watching the video, so he had me take our Tot Lock magnet (good idea...didn't have to buy a rare earth magnet!) and run it along the wall. After a few seconds, it stuck...and I squealed and did a happy dance!!!

Soooooo...that means I can have open shelving! Assuming Brad will still build and install them, which he'll say he doesn't want to do but will likely do anyway. One of the things I love about him! With all the tree removal business (and the resulting need to fix our sprinkler line and sod/seed), and the kitchen stuff that needs finished, it will probably be a while. But I'm just excited that it's back on the table as a real possibility!

I started my anti-candida diet today (again). I'm determined to stick with it, though I know it's going to be pretty tough for a while. I just keep telling myself that any cheating means having to start over. So far I've had quinoa with almond milk, cinnamon and liquid stevia (not super appetizing), a coconut muffin (ok), some veggies with hummus (which technically I can't have in this phase but had to get rid of) and a dry chile lime seasoned chicken breast and plain cauliflower. I'm going to have to get really creative with seasonings!

The day's gone pretty well so far, and I've tried to just keep busy so I don't think about food, and have been drinking a lot of water. I got tired mid-morning, and then it hit again after lunch. This is probably the first time I feel hungry and maybe a little "off". I've read about the die-off symptoms (detox phase) with candida and they can include fatigue, nausea, headaches, fever, and on-and-on. I'm trying to prepare for the worst, and to be ready with a plan so I don't give up. I'll keep you posted how it's going (whether you want to hear or not ;)).

Jul 18, 2014

Just Do It Already {Fitness Friday}

If you're a regular follower, you've read my regular intentions to quit sugar and follow an anti-candida diet in order to cure a skin problem I have. I figured out what the problem is (self-diagnosis) and I found a treatment. I just haven't been able to consistently do anything about it. Recently a friend told me about her nephew who had a rash develop, and a nutritional practitioner advised the anti-candida diet. With one month of no cheating, she told me, it completely went away. Now I know this was her nice way of saying, "Just do it already!", and she's totally right.

When I look at what's preventing me from succeeding, I realize that the biggest thing is not being prepared and having something ready on-the-go or in a rush. Yes, giving up sugar on its own is tough. Yes, the cravings stink. Yes, going out with friends is a challenge. The intial phase of the diet is very limiting (it's not just sugar that I have to eliminate, by the way). But I've given up similar foods before successfully. The biggest challenge is my crazy schedule...and stress (which incidentally also contributes to the candida).

Sooooo...I started pinning more recipes, I got my book back out, and I started a diet journal of sorts, similar to my fitness journal. It's not finished, but I want these elements in it for sure:

  • My "enjoy" and "avoid" lists of foods
  • A selection of fast and easy meals and snacks so I don't have to overthink it or spend tons of time (that I don't have) on recipes. 
  • Inspiration
  • Space for journaling symptoms and weight progress. Giving up these kinds of foods causes a detox, and at first can cause symptoms like feeling tired and nauseous, so I want to be mindful of those, and I want to also be mindful of how my skin improves. The weight loss isn't a main focus, but I think it will keep me motivated since the skin issues will likely take time to resolve.
Now that I'm getting on a more regular schedule this summer, and school's right around the corner, I am very hopeful that I can finally stick with this. I just have to keep telling myself that the tough part is only temporary, and if I just stick with it and not cheat, I can put that part behind me. I hope you'll be my accountability partners and let me report here how things are going!