Friday, October 24, 2014

Homemade Chips

When you eat real food, making things like fries and chips is just fun. You know exactly what's in it, you can change up the flavor with different seasonings, and feel good after you eat it. Win win. 

Making chips is not different than fries, really, other than how you cut them. But if my hubby wants chips, I'll make them :) 
They do turn out thin and crispy which changes the flavor, plus it's variety, which I like. 

Actually, my favorite snack food used to be potato chips. I'd come home from school as a kid and sit in front of the tube with a bag of chips. Soo addicting. But I cut that out years ago and I don't miss them. 

But making your own chips is a different ballgame than buying a bag. Better ingredients, no preservatives, healthy oil, and a limited amount that is for one meal makes this a good choice. So surprise your family and make a batch. 

Homemade potato chips (serves 4)

4-5 large potatoes 
Pam spray 
Olive oil
Seasoned salt or regular 

1. Rinse, peel, and slice into thin chips. 
2. Put in bowl of hot water for 5-10 minutes (or several hours...doesn't really matter). It just helps them crisp up nicer.
3. Preheat oven to 415-425 degrees when ready to cook.
4. Spray rimmed pan with olive oil spray (Pam). Drizzle olive oil across pan lightly. 
5. Lay each piece on pan. Drizzle more oil. 
6. Bake 10-15 minutes and watch for them to brown on one side. Flip when browning. Watch and repeat a couple times. When they start to brown keep an eye out cause they'll cook fast at that point. I like an even crispness so I toss a couple times. 
7. When at desired crispness, take out, season with pepper, salt or seasoned salt while still hot. Toss together. Serve with meat and veggies. Enjoy! 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

2 years

My youngest, Hannah, was born 2 years ago on the 18th. I decided to document my journey with getting back into pre-pregnancy shape/size (HERE). I thought I'd share where I am at in my journey, even 2 years later, mainly because I never read other people's postpartum journey passed 6 months. So hopefully if you're a mom, this will encourage you. 

Although I went down to pre-pregnancy weight fairly quickly, my body has taken time to move, re-shape, tighten, flatten, lift, etc (you moms understand all those things!). My clothes did not fit the same for a while. The biggest change for my body was my stomach. I have a little part of wrinkly skin right above my belly button that does not want to go away, and it has bothered me. Plus, my tummy was just loose in general. My stomach did NOT like being stretched so far. Ha. 

(1st Year)

Hormones are also in play for a long time after giving birth, add on taking care of bigger kids, you've got a whole pile of struggles. But once the beginning subsides, your body starts returning to normal, your love for all your kids grows, and your hormones level out (good DIET and regular exercise do the work!). 

I think that the journey of becoming a mom does A LOT to you. It refines you. It challenges your priorities, your relationships, your habits. Finding your identity is crucial. If it was built on the way your body looks, or your career, your relationship with your husband, or whatever else, it can come crumbling down. Your relationship with your spouse is important but he can't be the rock that Jesus is. He can't fix your emotional problems, the longing to find fulfillment when you once worked full time to now at home all day. Your body changes and some things are permanent. It's life. Things fade away...except for the love God has for us. Laying down your expectations and just finding joy in the fact that you are a Child of God is the most rewarding thing you can do. 

Since I am a Child of God, I can let go of others that wrong me. I can give up my bad habits and let Him change them. I can stop nagging my husband about things I would like to change and let the Holy Spirit do His work inside him. I can have grace with my kids and myself when we mess up (we all mess up!). Because of my identity in Him I can stop obsessing over having the perfect body and just rest in the process of the work He is doing in me, while I continue to eat and exercise how He wants me to. God has been working on my heart in all these areas. 

Anyways, with lifting weights, increasing my flexibility, and working on plyometrics (bodyweight exercises), my body continues to improve. So the moms out there that have been trying for a year...keep trying! Don't give up! There is hope. I think there is so much pressure to be "back" by the one year mark. Who made that up? Seriously. When did that become the rule of thumb?  If you're like me, I breastfed for a year so your appetite is crazy, hormones are still up and down, your menstrual cycle is not regulated, sleep is not always consistent, man, there are so many factors. 

Entering year 2 feels like I'm entering my prime. I am so excited about what's ahead. When you're on a journey, there's different phases. It has so many highs and lows, it sees different things, and it moves at different speeds. So after having a baby, it's just a different point in your journey of being healthy. The first year postpartum not the entire journey. I think the first year was just the benchmark in regaining my strength and my body returning to normal. But the longer time passes, the flatter your stomach gets, the more your body tightens, your flexibility increases, things get lifted, incontenince goes away, but it takes consistency and time. 

(2nd year)

Year 2 also brings something new for me. I felt God calling me to start pursuing my training business again. The last 2 years it was on the shelf so I could completely focus on being a wife and mom. But recently I saw a door open so I stepped through it and I am so thankful. After I walked through, I saw all the pieces God put together for me to start doing this again. Now God is using my passion in people's lives a couple mornings a week, again. What a fun journey. And I have peace. I know this is where He wants me and I blessed to be His hands and feet in other people's lives. I have the luxury of being home all day with my girls and when I train I don't feel like I am working, it's just fun. I am blessed beyond words. 

To the new mom, to the mom with 4 kids, to the pregnant mom.....keep up the good fight, stay on the journey. Learn to actually enjoy it. Forgive yourself a lot. Try new workouts. Stretch. Involve your friends and family. Find a workout buddy. Seek God and He will give you the desires of your heart.   


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Princess Party

Ahh parties. Besides training, I really enjoy planning and hosting parties. It's SO MUCH FUN to do it for my girls!! Abby turns 4 (in a few hours, actually) and Hannah turns 2 on the 18th, so a party for their friends was perfect. Abby is shy so I wanted to keep it small so she could really enjoy it. 2 cousins and her best friends, the Harris girls, I figured it would be perfect (plus her other close friends, Lehman girls who couldln't come). Well it turned out great and Abby had a blast!

Look at these cute princesses!!! Kyle's mom (Maw maw) came a little early and gave the girls the Elsa and Anna dresses to wear. They were very excited!!

I'm so glad my sis-in-laws got this pic of the girls and cousins!

Currrent fave: Frozen. Look at this amazing cake my mom made! We are very blessed to have amazing cakes each year!

I think one of my favorite parts of planning a party is when it's time to decorate. I loved making pom poms, blowing up ballons, coordinating food and colors of everything. Ah it's just so fun. 

The main course was catered....Chick-fil-a yes. Chicken nuggets, grilled chicken wraps, and chicken salad sandwiches was a good choice and saved me lots of time. I cut fruit, veggies, made cheese dip, and had hot apple cider with cinnamon sticks (forgot a picture of that!). And aren't those trays cute? I was able to borrow them from an awesome woman who has a LOT of these trays (thanks Jeannie :)). It was perfect for this type of party. 

Each of the girls got a tiara, wand/scepter, rings, and a place mat with their name on it and a crown that said, "Princess of the King." In reality, the sooner they realize that they are beautiful, unique, chosen girls of God, the better! He has been pursuing them before time and I pray that they tie these wonderful memories with how much God loves them and calls them to Himself. 

They sat still while everyone sang to them. Hehe ;)

Characters are so fun to eat! Hannah just loves cake and icing. 

I am so blessed to be a mommy to these sweet girls. Thank you family and friends for celebrating with us and making Abby and Hannah's lives more special because of you! 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Croockpot Herb Chicken

Ok, seriously, I am becoming quite fond of my crockpot. I never used to pay much attention to it and felt like I could only make a couple of meals in it. Well, I am learning (I love to learn) that using my crockpot is pretty handy. With 2 kids and a fairly busy schedule (I know it's just the beginning), I am trying to learn how to cook while I can't be home right at dinner time without eating out. So crockpot it is. It is great for having meat ready when you get home. Plus, slow cooking meat with their bones in and the juices from that (like chicken) are so important for your gut by putting healthy bacteria in it. Not only that but the collagen and gelatin help your skin, nails, and hair grow healthy and strong. Plus it helps fight infection and strengthens our own bones (read some material HERE and HERE).

Anyways, I found a seasonings packet at Aldi and put it to use to give a different spin on chicken. I have been buying chicken thighs with the bones still in them. The great thing about thighs? Cheaper. Let me repeat it again. It's quite a bit cheaper than chicken breasts and still great for you (I know we've been conditiioned to only eat boneless, skinless, dry chicken breast in the past but NO MORE people!). So don't be afraid to mix it up. Plus, it has a slighlty different texture and moistness than breasts. So if you're looking to trim your grocery budget, that's one thing you can do! 

Ok, to the recipe already....the flavor was great and you can let it cook all day long. Easy to just throw in. I made mashed potatoes because it's my hubby's preference, but you can cook them with the chicken and carrots all day as well. 

Chicken thighs bone-in (1 per person or 2 if big eater in family)
seasonings packet*
2 cups carrots
1-2 pounds of red potatoes (or whatever you have)
chicken stock

1. Take out crockpot, plug in. 
2. Fill bottom with chicken broth/stock and sprinkle half packet of seasoning.
3. Put skinless, bone-in thighs inside. Surround with carrots. Season with rest of packet and make sure broth is halfway up chicken thighs at least. 
4. Cut and add potatoes in as well if you'd like them in the pot, but I made mashed potatoes this time. 
4. Turn on low and walk away.
5. Cook all day and make mashed potatoes right before dinner. 
6. Heat some peas and corn by steaming in the microwave with a glass covered dish or on stove. 
7. Take out each thigh and remove (I used tongs) bone. It's super easy and the chicken is so moist. 
8. Enjoy! 

*If you don't have a seasoning packet then put in dried onion or onion powder, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, salt, and pepper.