on what I’m giving up for Lent


Yes, Lent.  Never observed it before in my life.  (And, actually, I’ve always kind-of regarded it with a bit of a ‘holier-than-thou’ attitude as if to say, “Don’t you know giving up soda doesn’t get you anywhere with God?” Confession #1 of the evening right there.)

Anyway.  I am, in fact, giving something up for Lent this year.


Six days a week.

I realize that giving up sweets/dessert entirely would have been so much more, well, climactic, but it would also be setting myself up for almost immediate failure.  Setting realistic goals is a no-brainer, and this three-times-a-day sweets girl going cold-turkey would have disastrous ramifications.  And I also realize that for some of you out there, giving up dessert 6 days a week is nothing.  (My husband included.)

But let’s get to the heart of the matter.  (Because that’s really where it all starts.)

I’m halfway through week three in my Made to Crave devotional, and have been sensing that I need a change.  I’ve been so dedicated to waking up early, putting my devotional time first, yet the scale isn’t going in the right direction.  I realize it isn’t about the number on the scale, but it is an outward reflection of my inner obedience to God.  High scale numbers = mindless munching and emotional eating I’m not supposed to be doing.

So, when I realized that Ash Wednesday was a matter of days away, I figured sacrificing something I hold near and dear (and have always been so hesitant to give up, right Emily!?) like dessert was just what this girl’s heart needed.  I’ve been indulging in too many sweets all over the place, and it needed to stop.  However, the thought of giving up EVERYT SWEET THING FOR SIX WEEKS terrified me.  Like, seriously.  It wasn’t until my friend, Regina, and I discussed over coffee (and, OK, some treats) and came up with our plan:

-Limit dessert (TRUE dessert) to ONCE a week–this turns dessert into what it should be: an occasional indulgence, not an every-night-because-I-want-it thing.  And it will give me something to look forward to each week, perhaps even a dessert date with Andrew

-Bring back the measuring cups! Regina said her mom always told her to introduce something new while giving something up during Lent.  We’re getting back to portion control as a way to be obedient to God in our eating habits.  It’s hard to mindlessly munch if you have to measure it all out ahead of time.

-Stick to structured meals and snacks.  This isn’t exactly something we put on paper, but it’s a good rule of thumb: If it isn’t part of a regular meal or pre-planned snack, avoid it.  It’s fine (good, even) to snack on an apple and cheese stick on the way home from school, but really, Holly, do you need the extra Wheat Thins while prepping dinner, too?

So, that’s the plan.  Six weeks of putting God first over our cravings for sweets, comfort foods and boredom eating.

What do I hope to gain?

-A deeper relationship with my God, who I’ve been seeking half-heartedly for awhile now.  Despite my diligence with Made to Crave, I feel like it’s going in one ear and out the other.  These ‘checks’ are a way for me to demonstrate his power in my life.

-Control over my diet.  I talk a big talk about healthy eating, but I have some deep-seated eating issues I need to deal with before it’s ever going to be under control.  If I want to one day help others be healthy, I need to be healthy, too–and that includes my head and heart.

-Perhaps I’d like to LOSE a few things, too….  I’d be lying if I didn’t hope this six-week sacrifice also helped me lighten up a little.  Again, the number on the scale is a reflection of how much I’ve let God fill me and not food; shedding a few pounds is an indication that I’ve sacrificed.  KEEPING THEM OFF IS AN INDICATION I’VE CHANGED.

I appreciate your prayers (and I’m sure Regina would, too!) as I embark on a journey that could truly be difficult for me.  I’ll keep you posted every once in awhile 🙂


what’s new around here

I know, I’ve been slacking.

Well, maybe with the blog, but everything else just seems to find its way into my already packed schedule.  In addition to the massive amounts of chemistry studying that has been going on for the past week or so (and will continue until 10:59 Monday morning), I’ve been able to fit in a batch of yogurt, Mother’s Day cards/gifts/trips to the post office, multiple hairball clean-ups (eeewww) and some Big Bang-watching.  Thank you, Andrew, for doing my dishes and folding laundry.  I know I whine and complain and can be a bit of a perfectionist; thank you for being patient.

It will all be over after by 1 p.m. Monday–hurray!  I can already taste the margarita I’m ordering afterward…

Anyway, here’s something of a re-cap:

1. Starbucks has had half-price fraps since last Friday, and I didn’t get one until Tuesday, which I think showed great restraint.  The kicker?  I tried their new ‘mocha cookie crumble’ flavor and I was so not that impressed.  Oh well, guess that’s what I get for obsessing over it.  I even brought some of my own sweet potato tortilla chips for snacking along with the drink (I love salty with chocolate!), and they are the same kind you can BUY at Starbucks.  Ha!  Bonus: I’ve been looking for one of their ‘city/state’ mugs that either said ‘Buffalo’ or ‘New York’ that I liked–loved this green one featuring the Statue of Liberty and the NYC skyline.  Would love to find one that’s more local to Western NY, but until then, this will have to do.

Side note: I’ve visited more coffee shops in the past week studying for the final than I care to admit.  However, I have a post going on my coffee preferences, so I suppose I could chalk them all up to research…

2. We recently received a giant box in the mail–it contained FOUR bags of Julio’s tortilla chips that Andrew mailed back from Texas. He even included a giant bottle of their seasoning blend–think he’s trying to tell me something??

Please note the first ingredient is MSG…  Really?  Like I’m really going to feel good about shaking THAT all over my organic sweet potato fries…  I swear, you guys, it’s like I’m sleeping with the enemy, sometimes.

3.  I made Graeter’s Black Raspberry Chip ice cream from Pioneer Woman’s new cookbook awhile ago, and I still have a little in the freezer.  Here are a couple photos:

All the blackberries I used turned into this leftover pulp–what a waste!  I tried it, just out of curiosity.  Big mistake–all it needed was cobbler on top with some vanilla ice cream!  I had to stop myself after two spoonfuls.

While the ice cream flavor was pretty spot-on, the chocolate I put in left something to be desired….  Instead of melting INSTANTLY in your mouth like real Graeter’s, these chunks of chocolate were crunchy and almost flavorless…almost no melting whatsoever.  At first, I thought it was the kind of chocolate I used: bittersweet vs. semi-sweet, or milk vs. dark.  However, upon further research into their methods (yes, I googled for their ingredients), I realized it’s all about the melting point and temperature…!  Duh, Holly, did you not just learn about this in Chemistry?  Basically, because ice cream is frozen, there is no way the chocolate can ‘melt in your mouth’ very quickly, unless you change the chocolate itself.  Graater’s actually adds oil to their premium chocolate to lower the melting point…  Now, all I need is their ratio of chocolate to oil…

4. So there is this long piece of carpet scrap we keep near the front door to help minimize mess on the carpet from coming in and out the door.  Obviously, it’s not nailed down or anything, so EVERY TIME Hadrian gets in one of his “zoomies” moods, he kicks it up into a wad under the dining room table.  Heck, even just normal walking moves the thing around.  THIS. MAKES. ME. INSANE.  I must bend over 900 times a day to fix the thing.  Yet another reason our forever home will not have carpet.

5. I ate sardines the other day for the first time!  Yes, I said sardines.  Honestly, they taste just like chicken.  Ha!  No, they don’t…but they do taste just like tuna.  Kath made a video of herself making a sardine salad and I was intrigued.  I bought a can of them last time we were in Ohio at Trader Joe’s and finally gave them a whirl.  Not bad at all!  Seriously, just like tuna.  I used her basic recipe and added some relish for a little more moisture.

6. Emily and I are plowing through Made to Crave and loving every moment!  We both agree that these last couple weeks have been really neat and there just seems to be so much ‘synergy’ going on with everything we’re learning.  For example, the beginning of the study focused more on simple principles of emotional eating, whereas now we’re moving into self-control (which was my first major break-through) and obedience to God.  The other night, I had a little bowl of ice cream (small, self-controlled and completely permissible for me), but afterward I realized I had eaten it ‘just because I wanted it.’  A perfect example of giving in and meeting a need–even with something permissible–when I should have been strong.

And another example: yesterday, Andrew and I ate a late lunch, so we didn’t want dinner before going to see The Avengers with the Layers.  It was about 5:45 p.m. and I’d just gotten a 100% on my final Chem quiz and was craving a walk and some fresh air, so we decided to walk to Vincenzo’s to get some water ice with our Groupon.  Anyway (I have a point here, I promise), we indulged a little in some liquid sugar (smalls!) before the movie, but passed on popcorn at the theater, which was easy since the line was long and we were already late.  However, by the time the movie ended we were both a bit hungry and Andrew suggested Kone King.  Now, I tell you what, I LOVE Kone King–their custard is just wonderful!  But you know what my first thought was:  “I’ve already had my dessert for today–I don’t need any more.”  VICTORY!!!  Despite it being 9 p.m., I felt I needed some ‘real food,’ so we opted for subs, where I chose a turkey on wheat.  VICTORY!

7.  My friend, Regina, took me to the local Yogen Fruz here at the mall.  Big mistake; it’s just another thing to crave.  At least it’s (pseudo) healthy, right?

8. I’ve come to the conclusion that Hadrian and I are on some sort of weird circadian rhythm…  Nine times out of ten, I wake up–moments before my alarm–only to hear him start getting up (his collar jingling, a familiar whine/yawn and stretch from the living room, followed by the clacking of his nails on our wood bedroom floor), also moments before my alarm… As long as I can switch him from 5 a.m. to 6 a.m. while I’m on summer break, we’ll be alright.

9.  Speaking of Hadrian…  I’m the worst dog-mom EVER.  I went out on a study break tonight to grab a Starbucks and run a few errands, one of which being to buy dog food–he’s dangerously low.  Well, I was apparently more concerned with getting to Ulta before they closed on Sunday than PetSmart…  Between that preoccupation and the onset of a sudden “shopping mood”  (probably more like procrastination, in this case), needless to say, I arrived to PetSmart too late.  Reason #536 that we don’t have (real) children yet.

Guess I’m going in the morning…  (Which really just means an excuse to get Starbucks before school, but who’s asking??)

10.  Hours to final exam: 12!

the mice, they are a-playin’

At least this one has been…  Playing, and school-working, and running and cooking…   I have been a BUSY girl these last few days, filling my extra free time to the max!  So busy, I haven’t even had time to BLOG-gasp!

Let’s see…where did I leave off?

Well, Andrew’s long gone, but I can’t not post about the fantastic dinner we had Wednesday.  Foreign!

I pulled this recipe for Banh Mi sandwiches out of a Food Network magazine back in 2008 or 2009.  It has, literally, been sitting in my “to try” recipe binder (in the fish section), waiting for such a time as this.  Well, the stars aligned last week and I finally made them…

You can see the fish peeking out from under the watercress and carrot.  The seasoning for the fish was super easy and really good–I just sauteed coconut oil (which is solid at room temperature) for a minute or two, added some Thai red curry paste and cooked it a little longer, then slathered it all over the fish before broiling.  It smelled SO GOOD.  I’m keeping the recipe because I think it’s such a unique flavoring, and the asian sauce you make to go with it was a winner, too.

Andrew left Thursday, which was the night I made my hawaiian pizza.  Check out my solo dinner set-up:

Disclaimer: About a minute after I took the photo, I traded the magazines for the laptop and perused my usual: Kath’s blog, Facebook and People.com.  I call them my guilty pleasures.

Check out that perfectly browned cheese!  With a good red sauce, hawaiian pizza cannot be beat.  Although I don’t know that I’ll be using fresh mozzarella next time for pizza; it’s best reserved for caprese salad.

Thursday night was also the night I chose to clean the WHOLE house…kind of like a mini-spring cleaning.  I always clean when Andrew leaves…  The way I see it: the earlier I get the place cleaned up, I longer I get to experience a clean house without having to pick up after anyone else!  It’s been glorious…

The next morning, at 6:30 a.m. no less(!), Emily and I did one of our Made to Crave discussion dates over the phone.

Is it bad that I was eating at the same time I was discussing a Bible study about CONTROLLING eating???  I suppose I should fess up and admit I printed out TWO cookie recipes from King Arthur Flour’s ‘best cookie line-up’ just moments before this shot was taken…

Also, note the “cookie-like” object on my plate…  They’re called “Anytime Cookies” and they’re from an online site called Nourished Kitchen.  I made them a day or so before Andrew left and WOW.  Loved them!  Super easy, SUPER healthy (no added sweeteners–just sweet from dried fruit) and the texture was great.  They’re kind of like a mini-muffin more than a cookie.  But at only 127 calories, they’re easier to have as a snack with some fruit or yogurt (or both) than something bigger or heavier.  I’ve shared them with some local loved ones (and Susy in her pre-half-marathon care package–tell me what you think!) and they raved.

Recipe is linked.  They use coconut flour and unsweetened, shredded coconut.  Coconut flour is higher in protein and fiber than regular flour.  Most grocery stores with a ‘natural/organic’ section should have coconut flour there, or in their gluten-free section.  That’s also where you’ll find the unsweetened, shredded coconut–the kind in the baking aisle is (heavily) sweetened.  If you absolutely can’t find the unsweetened kind, use the regular and perhaps decrease some of the fruit.  Or you’ll just have sweeter cookies, which if you’re not used to things like plain yogurt and unsweetened applesauce, might be a good transition for you, anyway.

OK, now that I’ve COMPLETELY digressed from my weekend re-cap…

I made this recipe for sweet potato and coconut soup, the recipe for which has been hanging on the fridge forever…  I knew I’d have leftover fish from the Banh Mi, and I thought a coconut-flavored soup would be perfect. PCC Natural Markets is a ‘chain’ of co-ops in Washington State and a friend from the co-op here sent me a link to the soup awhile ago.  Thanks Mary!

I roasted the sweet potatoes instead of steaming like the recipe called for–check out these babies!  Like dessert, I tell you.

Friday was filled with school-working, since I cleaned all night Thursday…  Chem lab to finish, two Micro labs to finish, Chem practice quizzes to prep for the actual quiz, Stats homework… Not to mention paying bills, random emailing and phone-calling, co-op blogging

Friday night I enjoyed my soup topped with a dollop (I love that word, don’t you?) of plain lowfat yogurt (to sub for sour cream, of course!), cilantro and chopped peanuts, paired with leftover fish, edamame and white wine.  As my friend Regina said when she saw the photo (I sent her a photo of my food–I AM that weird)…”Def not an Andrew meal!”  Nope, not an Andrew meal, although he does eat all of these things (points for him), he does LOVE any of them.

Saturday morning, I read the paper!  What a relaxing pastime…  Now I know why people sit and read the paper on Saturday mornings…  I’m usually up and going early on Saturdays, either the gym or early-morning shopping at Wegmans to beat the crowds (I like shopping so much I’d rather get up EARLY and go to enjoy myself than be rushed and crowded–grocery shopping, to me, is an EVENT).

If you look close enough, you can see yours’ truly’s byline on the front page, ABOVE the fold…(!)

I did hit the gym later that morning and tried a “punk rope” class.  It’s basically a circuit-training class with jump ropes, and while it wasn’t as high-intensity as it could have been, it was a nice change and a great time slot (8:30 to 9:15) for a Saturday morning workout.

I spent the afternoon with Carolyn bridesmaid-dress shopping…

…and we found a winner!  She’s liked this one from the beginning, and was finally ready to declare that this was it.  Ours will be black with a black ribbon, and Abigail’s will be black with a hot pink ribbon.  If you’re reading this and you know Abigail, you know that that is SO her.

I’d made plans with Regina for later that night (when was I supposed to get any of my Chemistry done, you ask?  I was asking myself the same thing…), but we didn’t know if we were going to stay in, or go out, so I decided to have something ready just in case.  Enter Triple Ginger Biscotti.

Yet another recipe that’s been hanging around for awhile… Not even sure who sent it to me…?  Susy, was that you?  They turned out well, but the recipe made A TON.  Should have halved it.

Regina and I stayed in and enjoyed out biscotti and tea after walking Hadrian.  So glad she was up for a walk despite the chilly temps; I’ve been thinking a lot lately (because of Made to Crave) about how EVERYTHING we do (socially, at least) is centered around food–meeting for drinks, dessert, coffee, lunch–the list goes on.  Now that the weather is getting nicer, it will be easier to meet up for more active activities like walks or runs.  Just something I’m trying to start doing to decrease foods’ ever-present status in my life…

(STILL chastising myself for not getting a photo of dear Regina…I’m such a terrible blogger!)

Sunday mornings are normally my run mornings, since it’s easier to run outside around the house than get to and from the gym before church.  Despite my late bedtime Saturday night–Regina and I were talking until at least 10:30–Hadrian got me up at 5:45 and I decided to go with it.  After polishing off some coffee, biscotti, the last Anytime Cookie and a banana, I headed out with Hadrian for our 3.4 mile loop.  I’d decided to do a long run (a.k.a. something in the 9+mile range for me), so after dropping him back off at home, I set out for my 7.4 mile loop around Orchard Park.  The stop at home was perfect; I was able to shed a pair of gloves (I wear two!) and add my sunglasses.  And since no one wants to run 10.8 miles, I added a 3-minute loop near the house, which upped it to more than 11.1.  Not an even number, but at least 11.  I was tired, but satisfied.  I hadn’t run more than 7 miles in a LONG time, so busting this out was good for me.

All that running done by 8:45 a.m.!  Still plenty of time to refuel and meet Andrew’s family for church.  I read my friend, Emily’s blog (a fellow RD-in-training here in Buffalo, not to be confused with the oft-mentioned Emily with whom I’m doing M2C) a couple days ago and she had a ‘toasted marshmallow cheesecake‘ oatmeal that I HAD TO TRY.  I knew it would be perfect post-run.

Yes, that is Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter melting on the top.  Deliciousness, and pure indulgence.  At least with peanut butter one gets a little protein; cookie butter is just dessert, people.  Also, I had to leave out the ‘mallows, I was fresh out!  But, since I’m not a huge marshmallow fan, anyway, (love ‘smores!), it wasn’t a big deal.  SO GOOD, I could have liked the bowl.  In fact, I might have.

After church and lunch at Panera with everyone, Carolyn and Ben and I headed to Target for some errand-running.  So fun to see what they registered for!  I treated myself to some new gym towels–mine were getting pretty ‘tired,’ for lack of a gross-er word–and some other things I needed.

LOOK!  The pineapple in action!

I packaged up every last piece of that biscotti!  Had to get it out of the house for my waistline’s own protection.  Note: this photo was taken at about 4 p.m. Sunday, at which time I had YET to start any Chemistry…  I had completely one practice quiz the night before, but still had two to go.  My procrastination drugs of choice: 1.) baking 2.) cleaning 3.) anything else that needs to be done around the house.  That way, I still feel productive while ‘wasting time.’

Oh, and I also changed out my purses for spring!  Goodbye my lovely green leather (but ridiculously heavy!) bag, hello Paris purse!  The blue striped bag was a Target purchase to corral all my giftcards and coupons, since the red bag is a bottomless pit.  Not a single pocket to be found inside…

Biscotti packed up…now on to Chemistry! I did a practice quiz, followed by leftover sweet potato soup and veggies and hummus for dinner, then another practice quiz.

After taking the dog for a brief, and chilly, walk, I sat down for the real thing.  Deep breaths abounded…

And I was handsomely, and shockingly, rewarded with a 100%!  Holy smokes!!  Seriously, I know I whine and complain about Chemistry, and while I have an A in the class, it’s still super hard and I never quite know what’s really going on with all those electrons and ions and things swimming around in solution…  Anyway, I’ve NEVER gotten a 100% on a quiz in either semester of Chem so far, so this was huge.

Except that it wasn’t.  The quiz took all of 15 minutes since EVERY SINGLE PROBLEM WAS ONE THAT HAD BEEN ON THE PRACTICE QUIZZES.  I repeat: I had the answers in front of me.  Seriously. I mean, on all the past quizzes there have been a handful (maybe 5 or 6) problems that matched up with practice quizzes, but never ALL of them.  My theory?  Dr. Barton rewards those who do the practice quizzes, because that’s the kind of guy he is.  Let’s just say I was in total shock and had to keep checking to make sure I’d taken an ACTUAL quiz and not another practice quiz.  And for fear that you think I exaggerate about how bad Chemistry is, this 100% will allow me to drop the 72% I got on the last quiz…

And it was a HUGE blessing, too!  The extra time I gained by finished the quiz so early allowed me to prep my breakfast:

Pioneer Woman’s Breakfast Bread Pudding.  It’s essentially a ‘breakfast casserole’ but less egg and assembled like a bread pudding.

I order to lighten it up a bit (and it is just me by my lonesome), I halved the amount of sausage.

I am, as I type this, enjoying a bowl of this and a pear for breakfast.  YUM.

Signing off now–whew, this was a long one!