Friday, August 29, 2014

Mr. Bow-az

This little guy is good enough to eat. By the looks of those chubby arms and legs, he has been getting plenty of milk. 

I just love this little guy. Babies make every day a good one!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Church growth

This past Sunday, our church sent out Pastor Donnie Romero, who is starting Stedfast Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, this coming Sunday. Like ours, this is going to be an independent, Bible-believing, old-fashioned Baptist church.

You can view Pastor Romero's special ordination service in its entirety here:

Pastor Romero is the second pastor we have sent out; the first was Pastor Berzins of Word of Truth Baptist Church in Prescott, AZ, sent out in November of last year.

If you live in the area of either of these churches, or traveling through the area, I would greatly encourage you to try them for yourself. The kids and I recently visited Pastor Berzins' church when we were in Prescott for a family trip.


In addition to sending out new church plants, our church has broken its attendance records for the last four services in a row (that's Wednesday last week, morning and evening service this past Sunday, and yesterday).

Panorama shot from the Sunday morning Ordination Service, with 141 in attendance

When that happens, we ring a loud ship's bell at the end of the service, signaling to everyone that we broke the record, and that there will be ice cream for all. I will admit, it has been a challenge keeping the freezer stocked with ice cream during the last week! But that is a good problem to have.

As of August 17

As of August 24 - last night's new record of 96 has not been recorded yet

There was a long line for the ice cream last night, but thanks to many helpers, it moved fast.

We have visitors at every service, but this last week we had some particularly dedicated ones. They had come all the way from North Carolina on scooters just to be baptized at our church. They do have a church they go to back home, this is just something they wanted to do. 

Check out the front of this one :)

These are exciting times in our church. I remember when we started in the house almost 9 years ago, and every step along the way. I remember when the record was 29 multiple times, and we never seemed to be able to break into the 30 and beyond range. I am thankful that as our church has continued to grow, the people that have been added are every bit as dedicated and faithful as the original group. We are looking forward to many more wonderful years of serving the Lord together.

 Our ladies - I just love how many of us are expecting, or holding a little one (or both - ha!)

Some of the men. The rest must have been off somewhere talking...

One of our members hosted a going away potluck for the Romeros in their home. I think there were about 70 of us in all there. It was great fun!

Some of the kids. The rest were busy trashing another part of the house or yard... ;) Look how much fun they are having!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Quinoa Salad (E)

1 1/2 cups uncooked quinoa
3 cups water or chicken broth
1/2 head red cabbage, shredded
1/2 red onion, finely diced
3 tomatoes, diced
1/2 bunch kale, thinly sliced
1/2 lb very lean ham, diced
2 tbsp olive oil
1-2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
1. Combine the quinoa and water/broth in a saucepan, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer while keeping it covered, and cook until no more liquid is visible. Turn the stove off, but allow the saucepan to sit on the hot stove plate with the lid still on for another 10 minutes. Fluff the cooked quinoa, and allow to cool.

2. Toss the cooled quinoa with the remaining ingredients, seasoning to taste with salt, pepper, and balsamic vinegar. 

3. Enjoy! Makes 12 servings.

If you are following Trim Healthy Mama, this is an "E" recipe. I am not usually a fan of quinoa, but absolutely love this, as do several of the children.

To follow our Facebook group, "Trim Healthy Mama - Whole Foods Style", please click here (ladies only). We share lots of great info, including how to use the program with natural, traditional sweeteners (as opposed to stevia, xylitol, etc.)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

They clean up nicely

We were invited out to eat last Sunday. Went to one of our very favorite places, St. Francis Restaurant in Phoenix. Like, love, or hate this blog - but it will always direct you to the best food around.

Whatever did we do before camera phones to capture these handsome dudes (the girl is pretty cute, too...)?

That's all - just showing off these beautiful people I made. And to think that's not even all of them! :)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Babywearing Jackpot

You may think that after having a number of children, I am some sort of baby care expert. While I like to think that I know more than when I started, there is so much more yet for me to learn and discover. 

Last week for our 14 year wedding anniversary (insert happy cheers), my husband and I went on a date that included a few necessary errands, some gelato, and a stop at Zoolikins, a local store I highly recommend. I had just earlier that day found out about a particular type of baby sling/wrap, and wanted to try it out in person at the store. 

The brand of carrier is called Baby K'Tan. I had heard of it before, but did not know anything about it. 

Basically, there are a few different types of baby carriers. The most common type are what are known as "soft structured carriers" (SSC), with their straps and buckles. This includes anything from a Baby Bjorn to an ErgoBaby carrier. Another common type of carriers are slings. They either have rings and are adjustable (known as ring slings), or are custom fit to the wearer in a set size (like Hot Slings). Finally, there are wraps to carry babies in, which are basically just a very long (15+ ft) pieces of fabric that can be tied in a number of ways depending on how you want to hold the baby. 

Personally, I find wraps the most comfortable by far for extended carrying. They keep baby close, and distribute the weight evenly, freeing up both hands/arms. However, the length of the fabric is very cumbersome. If baby is already fussy, s/he will not enjoy being wrapped up (which takes a couple of minutes for a beginner). Also, the wrap has to be re-tied every time after baby is taken out for a diaper change, feeding, etc. Trying to use a wrap in a public spot such as a parking lot without letting the ends touch the ground is near impossible. Removing a sleeping baby from a tight wrap to lay him/her down is tricky. For all these reasons, I have used ring slings almost exclusively for carrying my babies around for nearly 13 years. 

Ring slings are great for discreetly breastfeeding, and carrying a baby securely in a variety of positions. They can be slipped on and off quickly within seconds, don't require complicated wrapping techniques, and are just all around user-friendly. The only downside to them is that most of the weight will be on one shoulder only, which can become uncomfortable with extended carrying. They also do not fully free up both arms, as the arm opposite the supporting shoulder has to kind of keep close to the baby.

Well, the Baby K'Tan basically takes the best aspects of a wrap and a ready-made sling, and combines them into one. I absolutely LOVE it!!! The carrying comfort of a wrap, with the ease and speed of a ring sling. 

If you are one who enjoys carrying your babies close while you homeschool, run errands, do chores, or otherwise go about your day, you may want to give this carrier a try! I have been carrying Boaz more this week than ever before, and enjoy it so much I'm wanting to carry him even if he would be happy to sit in his swing or bouncy chair.

Please be advised that it is best to try these on in person, as sizes are custom-fit to the wearer. According to their sizing chart, I should be using a size "large", but actually fit much better with a "medium." When you put it on, it should feel a little tight. The fabric is knit jersey, and just like a shirt, will stretch with wear until you wash it again. If you are local to the Phoenix area, I highly recommend you buy from Zoolikins. Not only would you be supporting a local, independent business, but they are also exceptionally knowledgeable and super friendly :)

 Face out, known as the "adventure position"

 I posted a second picture just because the little guy is so cute :)

Facing in, blissfully asleep. While it's recommended, I do not use the additional sash, as I find it unnecessary for a secure carry. That makes using this sling even faster, and a bit cooler in the Arizona heat. Obviously, use at your own discretion. 

No affiliate links or commissions, I just love this carrier so much I wanted to share!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Muffin in a Mug premix (THM Style S)

A sweet friend of mine got me hooked on "muffin in a mug" creations. They are so quick and versatile that they have become a daily staple for me. To make whipping one up even faster, I multiplied the recipe to make a premix that can be used without needing to pull various ingredients out of the cupboard.

Plain Version (S)
1 cup almond flour
1 cup flax meal
4 tsp baking powder
5 Tbsp coconut sugar
Mix all ingredients well. Store in an airtight container on the counter. Makes approx. 8 muffins.

Chocolate Version (S)
3/4 cup almond flour
3/4 cup flax meal
1/2 cup cocoa
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup coconut sugar
Mix all ingredients well. Store in an airtight container on the counter. Makes approx. 8 muffins.

To make a muffin, follow these steps:

 1. Get an oven-proof bowl or mug for your muffin.

2. Whisk together 1 egg and 1 Tbsp coconut oil in the bowl

3. Add 5 Tbsp of the premix, then add any additional flavors you would like. Below, I am making one plain muffin with blueberries and cinnamon added, and one chocolate muffin with chopped pecans. 

4. Bake 12-15 mins at 350 degrees. 

Alternatively, you could nuke these in the microwave for 1 minute. We don't have a microwave, because if we did, I would be tempted to use it. If you have one, feel free to go with that option. Attaining a healthy weight will yield more health benefits in the long run that not microwaving your food. Some have commented that the taste is better when baked rather than microwaved. I typically make my muffin while I am already using the oven for something else, such as toasting bread for breakfast, reheating leftovers, or making dinner.

5. Depending on the flavors you chose, top with a little butter, unsweetened whipped cream, or cream cheese.

Both of these versions are absolutely delicious! The berries make the muffin wonderfully moist, while the chocolate + nuts gives a feel of brownies. I have also made the plain version without any add-ins, and then topped it with lots of whipped cream and strawberries for a "strawberry shortcake" version. The combinations are limitless! For the record, a serving is ONE of these, not two. The second muffin was for Solomon, who loves eating THM style.
If you are in the market for a whipped cream maker, I have and highly recommend this one. Costco also sells it (as well as the necessary N2O cartridges) at their business-members-only locations.

To make a "bread in a mug" premix, use the plain recipe above, but omit the coconut sugar. When mixing it up, use 1 tsp (rather than 1 Tbsp) of coconut oil - other than that, the recipe is the same.

And can I just add how ***excited*** I am to be losing weight easily without counting calories, writing down everything I eat, going hungry, compromising my milk supply, or giving up healthy fats?


If you are not familiar with THM, please click here to read my previous posts.
To buy the book, click here.
To read about my only misgivings about the program, click here

Friday, August 1, 2014

Trim Healthy Mama - Another Update

I first discovered Trim Healthy Mama spring of last year (and mentioned it briefly here).

In spite of my misgivings about using stevia or the other plan-approved sweeteners, I did succumb to them for the first few weeks that I followed the program. However, due to the (I believe serious) health effects of these sweeteners, I stopped using them. You can read why here and here. Please do take the time to read those posts before reading on below, as I consider the information in them to be crucial if you want to follow the plan, and enjoy maximum health benefits. If you are expecting, or hoping to get pregnant, it is especially important that you read up on the dangers of using stevia during pregnancy.

But that is not what today's post is about. Rather, I wanted to once again reiterate that it is entirely possible to follow a whole foods based, health-nutty diet, AND follow the Trim Healthy Mama approach, successfully! Are there some foods recommended in the book that I would never eat? Of course! But there is absolutely no need to have them if you don't like. Remember, the main concept underlying THM is to separate carbs and fats. How wholesome those carbs and fats are is entirely up to the individual.

More importantly, it is very possible to follow the plan with natural, wholesome, low glycemic sweeteners, and successfully lose weight while on program. I'm talking raw, unfiltered honey, Grade B maple syrup, and coconut sugar (my new favorite). There is no need to use denatured, hydrogenated sugar alcohols like erythritol and xylitol, which will wreak havoc on your intestines, or to use stevia, which is a plant, but one that greatly interferes with normal hormonal balance, and which many (including myself) believe to be a contributing factor in miscarriage and low fertility.

I went back on plan two weeks after giving birth, which was 10 weeks ago. During that time, I have lost exactly 20 lbs, and done so without my usually fickle milk supply suffering. The reason for this is that following the THM plan does NOT require you to cut calories. In fact, I think I actually consume MORE calories when I'm on plan than when I'm off, because eating this way fuels the metabolism so much that even two hours after a huge meal, I am hungry and ready to eat again. On an average day, I consume anywhere between 2,500 - 3,000 calories, while losing weight! 

Nor is this weight loss due to being postpartum. I've been down this road a time or eight, and unless I make a concerted effort, I will weigh what I weight the day after giving birth indefinitely. In the past, I have always had to wait to start losing weight until baby was well accustomed to solids, because dieting pretty much meant drying up my milk. Not this time around!

Does this lunch look like I am suffering hunger? This fabulous salad was made with plenty of fresh greens and veggies, two eggs, smoked salmon, diced cheese, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, and as much dressing as I wanted (which was a lot).

And because I had a little hankering for dessert, I rounded the meal out by having mixed berries (sweetened with a bit of maple syrup), topped with unsweetened cream.

So you see, even with my fat-fueled "S" meals like the one above, I can use a wholesome, low glycemic sweetener like maple syrup (which is still a carb) in moderation, and lose weight. 

If you have been thinking about buying the book or going "on plan", but are put off by some of the recommended foods, particularly the no-calorie sweeteners, don't be. Go ahead and jump on board, but rest assured that you can do so without giving up real, God-given, natural sweeteners like honey and maple syrup, and still lose weight painlessly and with relative ease.

Please check back for a favorite recipe of mine in the next blog post! :)