Monthly Archives: February 2013

Journey Journal: Days 54-56

Day 54: Saturday, February 23, 2013

Slept in till 9 a.m.! Breakfast of scrambled eggs with stir-fry veggies. Went to the gym for about 35 minutes and really broke a good sweat! Came home and had a quick lunch before cleaning the house and finishing the week’s laundry. Able to read a good chunk of my current book, The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton, accompanied by a fine French press of Italian Dark Roast. Then had our friend Collins over for a dinner of steak, mashed potatoes, herbed carrots and steamed broccoli. I added sour cream, butter and cheese to the guys’ potatoes, while mashing mine with coconut oil and nutritional yeast–which was actually quite tasty. Hot tea and more reading concluded my evening.

Day 55: Sunday, February 24, 2013

Split a piece of homemade bread with Bryan as we rushed out the door. Had a great morning worshipping Christ at church this morning. Danny spoke from Psalm 23 and our Shepherd Jesus! Journey Group centered around God being our Righteousness–what a blessed thought! Had my cousin and some friends over for a lunch of whole wheat pancakes with blueberry compote, bacon, and scrambled eggs (I made my pancakes with soy milk and they turned out pretty good). Went on a 3.1 mile walk/run because the weather was so gorgeous! This time of year, I take the opportunity to be outside and catch some sun every chance I can get–especially when the sun is accompanied by temperatures above 60°F! Then we had a Journey Group leaders’ meeting at church in the evening and broke up by age groups to discuss concepts and share ideas. It was sweet to hear Bryan share how much he enjoys discipling the youth of our local Body. Then my cousin and his friends came back over to finish laundry…and for a dinner of curry burgers topped with spinach, avocado, tomato, etc.; baby carrots; and apple slices. It was a relaxing and rejuvenating Sunday!

Day 56: Monday, February 25, 2013

Happy birthday to my bro! Breakfast of homemade toast with strawberry jam with Bryan before heading to work this morning. Handful of nuts for a mid-morning snack, then a veggie stir-fry for lunch. Encouraged by certain evidences of God’s grace and direction in our lives. Did my weekly grocery shopping after work today, which took longer than normally, as I’m reading labels and comparing prices for the new non-dairy thing.  Quick dinner of whole wheat pancakes with blueberry compote and a vanilla coconut yogurt (tasted really good, but will likely only by as a special dessert–more sugar than I realized). Then headed to our Ladies’ Group tonight, which included more evidences of grace and encouragement by some of my dear friends. God is so good!

What If Wild Animals Ate Fast Food…

Saw this humorous, satirical cartoon above and was reminded of the documentary Super Size Me that I watched a couple of years ago. Thankfully, we rarely eat out, and when we do, we try to avoid fast food at all costs.

Journey Journal: Days 52-53

Day 52: Thursday, February 21, 2013

Actually woke up rested and had time to fix a real, hearty breakfast this morning before work. Made an egg sandwich with sautéed onions and peppers. Lunch was with my dear friends Shannah and Annette. We met at Shannah’s and had a delicious lunch together, which turned out to be vegan without trying. I don’t think I could be vegan all the time, but occasionally, a meal like this is refreshing and rejuvenating.

picture courtesy of

I brought some pumpkin black bean soup that had fresh onions, peppers, garlic, cumin, and tomatoes in it, made with vegetable bouillon (similar to this recipe); Annette brought homemade bread made with olive oil, along with some homemade strawberry jam, and a fresh corn, red pepper, and carrot salad, using vegan mayonnaise and basil; and Shannah made baba ghanoush (roasted eggplant, tahini, parsley, lemon, garlic, etc.), which tasted amazing by itself or on the bread.

Bryan and I went for a walk after work before dinner and had a really good conversation about future direction, dreams, and trusting God. Dinner was a salmon patty on top of sautéed greens, with a dessert of almonds and blueberries topped with whipped coconut cream, and a square of dark chocolate. So yummy!

Day 53: Friday, February 22, 2013

Down another pound this week, which surprised me since it’s been such a busy week and I haven’t been able to make it to the gym as frequently. Fortunately, I was able to help with setup at church some, which always counts as a workout. Had a very light breakfast today of peanut butter toast–I was saving up for lunch with my friend Mandy. We went to Brick Street Cafe, and I splurged–cheesy vegetable quiche with creamy tomato dill soup, and half a slice of the sweet potato cake with cream cheese icing.  I’ve been off dairy for about a month now, so I wanted to try to eat some and see if it made a difference. (Verdict: I need to stay off dairy pretty much permanently–though the cake was definitely worth it for a special occasion!). Dinner was a bowl of the pumpkin black bean soup, a small sandwich with salmon, spinach, and a touch of mayo on hearty bread, and a side of green pepper strips! Looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow, followed by good coffee…and housecleaning!

Journey Journal: Days 47-51

Days 47-48: Saturday-Sunday, February 16-17, 2013

This weekend was fairly uneventful. We spent Saturday morning helping Bryan’s sister and brother-in-law pack and move into their brand new home! Excited for them as they enter the world of home ownership! Then Bryan had to study, so I ran some errands and then had a couple girlfriends over to listen to records and hang out. It was a relaxing time, full of laughter and fellowship.

Sunday started our church’s annual Pastor’s Fellowship special meetings. This year’s topic is “The Church: A Work in Progress.” Our pastor, Danny Brooks, kicked off the series on Sunday with “The Church that Will Be” and “The Church that Is.”

Days 49-51: Monday-Wednesday, February 18-20, 2013

This week has been pretty busy between special services at church, busy days at work, and trying to keep the household machine running as normally as possible. I have not been recording my food this week, but have been good about what we’ve been eating. And my weight is the same (at least I’m not going backwards), plus Bryan’s lost two more pounds! After losing ten pounds in six weeks, I figured I was due for one week of plateau. With special services, I haven’t been able to get to the gym as much, but I should be able to jump back in this weekend or next week at the latest. Bryan had several tests for school this week too, and it’s been especially challenging with two upper level science classes this semester, but God is proving Himself faithful, so we will keep plugging ahead.

Every year for the past several years, our church has hosted a Pastors’ Fellowship in February. Pastors, evangelists, missionaries, and church leaders come from all over for this mini-conference. They meet during the day to share the blessings and challenges of full-time ministry during the day; and then the whole church joins in the evenings for supper and service. The music is exceptional and the preaching is refreshing and challenging! Eric Sipe (from Columbus, OH) spoke on Monday night on “Making Sense of Failure”; Tim Keesee (my boss at Frontline) spoke on Tuesday night on “Lambs among Wolves: Making Sense of Persecution”; and Matthew Hoskinson (from NYC) spoke on Wednesday on “Wicked Cities, Half-Hearted Messengers, and Sovereign Mercy.” The sermons should all be available soon on soon, if they aren’t already.

Book Review: French Women Don’t Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano

French Women Don’t Get Fat: The Secret of Eating for Pleasure by Mireille Guiliano is a fabulously simple concept of enjoying quality over quantity in whatever you eat…or do. With over 265 pages of tips, tricks, recipes and hilariously helpful stories, Guiliano shares the secrets of her healthy heritage, while convincing you to drop whatever fad diet you might be most recently deceived by.

Guiliano is a high-power, working woman and best-selling international author, who grew up in France and is at the top of her game as the CEO of an American branch of a French company. She talks about being an exchange student in high school and coming to America, where she picked up much of the typical American high school food fare, along with the pounds to go with it. After returning to France, she worked with a Dr. Meyer (whom she refers to as “Dr. Miracle” throughout the book) to regain her ideal body weight and lead a healthfully satisfying life of enjoying food, fitness, friends and family.

She talks about basic concepts like eating smaller portions of higher quality ingredients, making sure you have a good variety (recommending at least 20-30 different types of food each day, so you get a full gamut of nutrients), not depriving yourself, eating slowly and mindfully, and shopping daily and at local markets as much as possible, so you get the freshest, in season, local ingredients.

She also recommends drinking plenty of water, keeping moving (even if it’s just walking, stairs, and a few light weights), getting proper sleep (not too much, not too little), and adding yogurt to your daily menu. And over and over again she says, “Faites simple,” meaning, “Keep it simple.”

Here are some of my favorite moments from the book:

  • “Consider all the things you consume regularly. Which of them is giving you real pleasure and which are you having to pointless excess? One thing French women know is that the pleasure of most foods is in the first few bites; we rarely have seconds” (p. 31).
  • “Part of living like a French woman, then, will mean searching out and paying a bit more for quality, whether at the open-air market or at least a good grocery shop with market suppliers. …French women live on budgets, too, but they also understand the value of quality over quantity” (p. 77).
  • “Visual variety, color, and presentation are underestimated factors in food pleasure” (p. 119).
  • “French women know any regimen you can’t maintain for long stretches of life is bound to fail you, just as they know that boredom, not food, is the enemy” (p. 206). “For me, walking remains the ultimate time for freedom of thought” (p. 210). “The body spends about 60 calories an hour sleeping; if you swim, you’ll do better at 430 calories; but climbing stairs consumes a stunning 1,100 calories per hour. Vive l’escalier!” (p. 211).
  • “The only purpose of withholding some pleasure is so we can more fully enjoy everything else for having it in proper balance” (p. 224). “Our troubles with weight have as much to do with our attitudes toward eating as they do with what we are ingesting. We are seeing a growing psychosis that I believe actually adds stress to our already stressful way of life. It is fast erasing the simple values of pleasure” (p. 225).
  • Speaking of laughter: “It’s both a physical and psychic pleasure: it is relaxing, stimulating, liberating, and sensual. It’s a pleasant response to emotion that heightens the emotion itself” (p. 228). “Marcel Pagnol believed that God gave laughter to human beings as consolation for being intelligent. I prefer to believe he made us intelligent so we could appreciate a good laugh” (p. 229).
  • “The answer is never ‘dieting’ in the American sense, but rather little alterations made steadily over time. So when we do lose the excess weight, not only does the effort seem painless, the results are much more likely to last. If my fellow Americans could adopt even a fraction of the French attitude about food and life (don’t worry, you don’t have to sign on to the politics, too), managing weight would cease to be a terror, an obsession, and reveal its true nature as part of the art of living” (p. 252).

I highly recommend this book if you are trying to lose weight for the first time…or if you have given up and need this to be the last time you lose weight…or if you just want a few good tips and recipes to spice up your weekly menu repertoire. Fortunately, I took French in high school and still remember un petit peu (since she likes to throw in some of her native phrases), but even if you don’t know French, she translates most of her phrases for you…and then, there’s always Google translate for the ones she doesn’t. A quick read, and a relief to the typical American trying to become healthier. So, pick up this book, adjust your attitude about food, and then adjust your lifestyle and start enjoying the good gifts of fabulous cuisine. Bon Appetit! 

Journey Journal: Day 46

Day 46: Friday, February 15, 2013

Woke up this morning, and as I was getting dressed, I noticed my pants fit better; so, I naturally got on the scale. Down 2 more pounds this week! That makes nearly 10 lbs. lost since the beginning of the year! I forgot my breakfast this morning, but I fortunately have an emergency stash of almonds in my desk drawer at work. Took an early lunch and had some yellow rice, black beans, and some of the leftover guacamole from last night. My coworkers told me it smelled delicious and that I should open a restaurant. It was a delicious, nutritious combination that I will definitely do again! After work, I made it to the gym in time to get through most of my normal routine before closing time, and then came home to make an egg sandwich with sautéed onions and peppers with rosemary for dinner. Had a good size Granny Smith apple as a side. Really hit the spot. Now for some hot tea and a good book…one of my favorite ways to spend a Friday night…or any night, for that matter.

Journal Journey: Days 43-45

Day 43: Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Leftover curry and rice for lunch. Had a really good workout at the gym after work. Dinner of salmon, yellow rice, and salad with an avocado-based Caesar dressing (started experimenting with this tonight–it was pretty good but a little too acidic…maybe a little less lemon juice and anchovy paste next time). Read for a while tonight, with a cup of hot tea.

Day 44: Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Large granny smith apple and a handful of nuts for breakfast with coffee. Chicken noodle soup for lunch. Went to the gym, then I surprised Bryan with dinner from a little Greek restaurant–I had a falafel sandwich with tabouli and got him a beef and mushroom pizza. Then I had a small evening snack of blueberries, almonds, and a  square of dark chocolate with a cup of Vanilla Sleepytime tea. Finished reading my current book, French Women Don’t Get Fat–hope to have a book review post soon.

Day 45: Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine’s Day! Woke up late, so today’s breakfast and lunch were the same as yesterday’s. I’m actually thinking I need to start making a big batch of soup at the beginning of the week to take for lunches…at least till it gets warm outside. Good day at work…called Bryan on my way out to check in before heading home. We typically don’t do anything too fancy for Valentine’s–and try to avoid restaurants–so we decided burgers sounded like a good idea for dinner. I stopped by Publix to grab some buns and picked up a bar of Bryan’s favorite dark chocolate. I came home to a surprise Valentine’s card and my own bar of dark chocolate. So sweet!

I mixed up a fresh batch of guacamole with avocado, onion, garlic, tomato, cilantro, lime juice and salt. Bryan mixed up the hamburger meat with an egg, garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, turmeric, sage, sriracha, and a little lite soy sauce. Bryan topped his burger with cheddar, mixed greens, cilantro, mayo, ketchup and mustard; I topped mine with a tiny bit of mayo, mixed greens, cilantro and the guacamole. Quite possibly the best burger I’ve ever had! Finally, we delved into our chocolate with a few almonds for dessert. Now to pick my next nighttime reading book…

Journey Journal: Days 41-42

Day 41: Sunday, February 10, 2013

Today was a day of refreshment: church and a long afternoon nap! The morning service revolved around John 3:16; Sunday School was “God is our Provider”; and evening service was a look at biblical manhood and womanhood as it relates to sexuality–a tough topic, but one that has been “taboo” for too long. God doesn’t avoid the topic in Scripture, and neither should we: our generation is in desperate need of a proper biblical perspective on the topic, and I’m glad our church sees this need and is seeking to address it from the Word.

Day 42: Monday, February 11, 2013

Busy day at work, including my semi-annual dentist check-up, which went well. Had a chance to talk about the Gospel with the dental hygienist as well as the dentist for a bit (brought on by the conversation of “So, what’s new with you?” “Well, I changed jobs.” “Oh, where are you now?” “Frontline Missions.” “Oh, what’s that?”, etc.). Had a mini-planning session with Bryan about upcoming home renovation ideas. Really hoping to be able to turn our screened porch into a sunroom this year, but will have to see if we can do it or not. The upsides are we can do most of the work ourselves and even though it will be a cost up front, we should gain at least twice the value of what we put into it if and when it comes time to sell. So, we’ll see what happens. Ended the day with a cup of tea and a few more chapters of my current book.

Dairy-Free Chocolate Bars (and a Guilt-Free Chocolate Treat!)

The most important ingredient in chocolate is not milk, but cocoa! And the more cocoa the better, if you ask me. Dark chocolate comes in all shapes and sizes, but I prefer somewhere between 70% and 85%. That percentage is the percentage of cocoa to total ingredients. Since I’m trying to be dairy-free right now, I didn’t want to have to stop eating chocolate in general, so I’ve been doing a little research and here are a few bars that fit into this new-to-me lifestyle:

My Favorite Dairy-Free Dark Chocolate Bar!

My Husband’s Favorite! (I like it too!)

My Favorite Organic Brand! (I also love the Espresso Dark Chocolate Bar from Green & Black’s.)

And if you’re wanting a high-protein snack with a little chocolate kick, consider chopping up about 3 or 4 squares into these “Raw Cookie Dough Bites” from A Dash of Compassion‘s blog. The recipe in the link makes about 12 one-inch cookie dough balls. I used honey instead of agave nectar, and they were deliciously guilt-free! Plus, they make a great on-the-go breakfast, if you’re in a hurry, since they’re just nuts, oats, a little honey, cinnamon, a pinch of salt and some dark chocolate. Feel free to substitute raisins for the chocolate if you want them to be even more nutritious!

Journey Journal: Days 35-40

Day 35: Monday, February 4, 2013

Happy Birthday, Dad! Today was a good day. Had curry for lunch with my friend Adrianne. Went to the gym after work and had a nice evening at home.

Day 36: Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Went shopping on my lunch break at Old Navy, and between a gift card, coupon, and rewards, ended up with 5 pairs of pants, a pair of shorts, and sunglasses for only $16 out of pocket! And the jeans are a size down from the last time I bought there, so something must be working! Most of the clothes were for Bryan–he needed new khakis for school. Went to the gym again after work, and made sure to get my 15 minutes in the sauna there tonight as well, followed by a relaxing Epsom salt bath at home afterwards.

Day 37: Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Good day. Worked out after work and was able to run my errands between work and Shepherding Group. Had a good time sharing and praying with our small group and enjoyed some delicious Tchibo Sana coffee–from Germany!

Day 38: Thursday, February 7, 2013

I know I went to the gym today, but I can’t remember any of my food choices. All I remember is that, today, I became an aunt again! My brother and his wife had their first child, Sophia! Can’t wait to meet her! Her pictures are precious! I just wish we lived closer. So happy for them!

Day 39: Friday, February 8, 2013

Woke up this morning and weighed in–down 7.6 lbs. since New Years! And into the next “deca-range” on the scale! Goal is 17.6 lbs. more, which seems reasonable now. Had an apple and coffee for breakfast and some spicy lentils wrapped in whole wheat flax tortillas for lunch. Got off work around 6 and headed to the gym, only to find it closes at 6 on Fridays. Bummer. So, I picked up a bag of egg noodles from the store and came home to make Bryan some fresh chicken noodle soup for dinner. It hit the spot after a week of cooler temperatures.

Day 40: Saturday, February 9, 2013

Today’s schedule included nothing except resting, reading, and a quick workout at the gym, plus copious amounts of French Press coffee and water. Got up around 8:30 and Bryan cooked rice ‘n’ eggs for us (it’s kind of like a breakfast stir-fry of sorts, that includes lightly fried rice, scrambled eggs, olive oil, garlic, and marjoram or basil). I tossed together a fruit salad of fresh apples, banana slices, and strawberries and put on a kettle of water for my French Press coffee. We watched some soccer (live from Great Britain), and then I caught up on some TV and reading before heading to the gym at 11am. Had a simple smoothie for lunch (recipe from the book I’m reading, French Women Don’t Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano) and read some more. Tonight, I think we’ll make curry again and hopefully make it to bed early.