Sunday, March 18, 2012

Turkey Apple Crisp

This recipe sounds totally funky, but it actually turned out being pretty good.  It tasted "fresh" and different - something to change up the usual.  Worth a try!

1 can crescent rolls
Light Poppy seed dressing
Sliced turkey breast meat - we used Carving Board Turkey from the deli section
4oz shredded cheddar cheese (1/2 of a bag)
1 granny smith apple, thinly sliced

Open crescent dough into 2 rectangles on flat baking sheet. Place desired number turkey slices & apple slices
on open dough. Sprinkle with cheese. Drizzle 1 tablespoon dressing over each; fold up edges to make a rim around the outside. Bake for 20 minutes at 375.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

BBQ Beef Puffs and Mandarin Orange Salad

Cute name we came up with, huh?  I like it.  Anyway, this was super easy and very good!  We'll be doing this again for dinner for sure! 2 recipes with this post... must be the luck of the Irish ; )  And a pic of Aiden in his St. Patty's Day gear!  He has the Irish Eyes - no question there!  We LOVE being Irish : )

BBQ Beef Puffs
1 can refrigerated flaky biscuits - we used butter flaky pillsbury
½ lb ground chuck - we use 92% lean
Barbeque sauce - we use Jack Daniels #7 (blue label), works for me with low sugar
1 c shredded cheddar - We used 2% sharp cheddar
Pam Original Spray

Spray muffin pan with Pam spray.  Pat biscuits into flat 5” circles (or a bit bigger than your palm). Press lightly in greased muffin pan. Brown beef in a large skillet; drain. Stir in desired amount of bbq sauce (I used a bit more than half a cup); spoon into muffin cups. Sprinkle muffins and beef with shredded cheese. Bake @ 375° for 20min. Cool in pan for 5 min. before serving.

Mandarin Orange Salad
1 bag of hearts of romaine lettuce leaves
1 14oz. can of No Sugar Added Mandarin Oranges (Del Monte brand has this - they are awesome!)
1 bag of honey roasted sliced almonds (found in the produce section, only 1 gram of sugar per serving)
8oz bottle of Ken's Lite Vidalia Onion Dressing

Drain oranges.  Mix all ingredients together and serve cold.  I used about 3/4's of the bottle of dressing and all of the almonds.  Very good!!!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Ham and Corn Chowder

Bracket season anyone???  Maybe I'll let you know who I have winning it all tomorrow - it's unconventional, but that usually serves me well ; )  That's what I did with my time tonight (filled out my bracket) after gabbing with my mom, spending an hour on facebook and hanging with my favorite little baby.  Now I'm posting my second recipe of the night : )  Anyway, Ryan made dinner tonight and it was DEEEEE-Lish!  I can't tell you how much I enjoyed this dinner and I didn't have much faith to start.  I always thought "chowder" meant fish... then I thought it meant "potatoes"... nope, neither.  Turns out it just means "thickened soup" usually with some sort of cream or milk.  Heads up, this recipe only made enough for 2 servings, one for each of us.  So if you're serving more, prepare to double or triple it.

2 T stick margarine
½ c onion, chopped
1 t minced prepared garlic
¼ t paprika
pinch  of crushed red pepper
¼ t salt
¼ t pepper
1 small bag frozen corn, thawed
1 can chicken broth (14oz)
½ c light half-and-half
1 c diced ham - (We used a ham steak and then used the vidalia chopper to "dice" it.  Worked well)

In a large stock pot, melt the margarine over med heat; add onion and cook until tender. Add garlic, paprika, red pepper, salt and pepper; cook 2 min. Stir in corn, broth and half-and-half. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 15 min. Puree half of soup in blender and return to pot, add ham and stir to combine. (We heated the ham in the microwave after dicing it for 1 1/2 minutes before adding to the soup.)

Broccoli Cheddar Quiche

Well... I should be doing my coursework for a class that I'm teaching next month... but it wouldn't be me if I didn't burn the midnight oil - and the deadline isn't until this weekend... so here is a new recipe we made recently.  It actually was REALLY good and I'm not an egg fan... not an egg fan at all.  Give it a whirl for a great vegetarian option : )  Very budget friendly too!

5 eggs
1 c light whipping cream
½ t salt
1 small box of cooked, chopped broccoli
1 c shredded cheddar cheese 2%
1 frozen deep dish pie crust

In blender, blend eggs, whipping cream, & salt.  Spread broccoli and cheese evenly into pie crust. Pour egg mixture over all. Bake @ 350 for 1 hour and 20 minutes or until knife comes out of center clean.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

2 year pictures are here!

Size 28/30 Lane Bryant Pants.  Size 12 now : )

Last night, I was asked to go back to the weight loss surgery (wls) support group and give a presentation on "Defining Long Term Success".  It was a great event and gave me a good reason to pause and appreciate all that has changed about me and my life in the last 2 years.  1 month ago I was invited to participate in a "Drop Your Drawers" fashion show for wls patients where you walk down a cat-walk (yes... cat-walk) with a pair of your old pants.  And that my friends, is where my 2 year pictures are from (technically 2 years and 1 month - but I'm a new mom... give me a break!)  I've found that for me, sharing my story - both with pre-op and post-op patients as well as on the blog, helps to keep me motivated and on track. 

I know this blog has diverted more than a few times from it's originally intended purpose (read about that in my first blog post) - but I have changed, so my blog has changed with me.  I might be making changes in the next few months to the blog to make it more "sectioned".  By that I mean - if you're interested in pregnancy/mommy/baby stuff- you can click on a section.  If you're interested in wls/recipes/healthy choices - click on another.  And then who could forget my deals/steals and couponing.  I have totally embraced living on a budget and hope to share my money saving ways as I have been doing.  I think that will be my summer project after Aiden goes to bed : )

So here are some of the questions I was asked last night and my brief answers.  Thank you to everyone that has supported me along the way and will continue to support me in the future.  It is your love and support that has given me the courage to make this a successful, rewarding and truly fulfilling journey!

What has surprised you the most about your post-surgical life?
That I love cooking now!  That was the entire reason I started this blog - to document my attempts (some failed - here's one that did) at trying to learn how to cook and do something good for myself.  It might not look pretty... but it tastes good ; )  ---- the question was surprised... I suspected that I would be FULL of energy and ready to take on a whole new list of goals after surgery.

What did you discover about yourself along your weight loss journey?
How truly disconnected and in denial I was about my weight and the condition of my body/health.  Somehow I managed to protect myself from seeing what other people saw on the outside.  One good thing that came out of that is that my personality was not affected.  I never withdrew or changed who I was - I'm still a little bottle of sass ; )  But even now looking back at those pictures - I intellectually know that it is me, but I have no emotional attachment to that version of myself.  I never saw myself that way. 

What have you learned about your support environment?
Support comes in all shapes and sizes - just like we do!  Some people can offer support in one way, while another person can offer support in another.  My husband is, and always has been my number one supporter.  Without him, I would not have been able to do this.  My motivator is my son (even before he was conceived). See some of my pregnancy pics and my message about motivation here.  I knew how much I wanted to accomplish this for him, us and our family!

Is there a difference in your lifestyle regarding weight loss versus weight maintenance?
I need to watch calories now (see how I do that here).  I know what range I need to stay in to make my weight stay maintained.  I have never gotten hung up in the number on the scale - it is always 10x's better than what it used to be.  But I do track my weight and have done so every week for the last 2 years.  I've never missed a weigh-in and it's a strong motivator to go back and see what has happened - especially through the pregnancy (I worked hard to only gain baby weight!).  I expect to see some weight re-gain over the next couple of years, but that's ok.  If I see more than 5-10 pounds creep back on from my 170 mark - it's time to take a SERIOUS look at what I'm doing and not doing.  I would love to be in the 160's by next December, but I also appreciate where my body is at now and want to make healthy choices based on how I feel and not what the number says on the scale. 

What are your top 3 habits for weight maintenance?
1) Buy clothes that fit and ditch the big ones!  This also goes along with my love of shopping and finding a great deal (always on a budget).  If there is room to grow back into the clothes... I think you will.  I realized after surgery I was very emotionally attached to clothes.  Almost every outfit I had I could recall where I first wore it, how I felt that day and why.  With my wardrobe constantly changing now with the pregnancy and my weight loss - I'm starting to learn to remember the moments and memories - and let go of the clothes.
2) Try - try - try new foods!  I have talked to some pre-op people that have said "I can't eat any meat - it just doesn't sit well with me".  That has not been my experience at all, but I have found that some things don't sit well the first time or two around.  I try very hard to not rule any type of food out.  I'm a lot more adventuresome in my eating.  If it doesn't go well the first time, try, try again!  Just prep it differently and see how it goes.  Make sure you only change one thing up at a time so you can truly identify what works for you and what doesn't.
3) Be honest with yourself.  If you can't be honest about what you're doing or how you're doing it (or not doing it as the case may be) then you're really only hurting yourself.  I need to remember on a regular basis that I did this surgery for me and everyone in my life gets to benefit from it.  It has been the key that has allowed me to open so many more exciting doors - but that has only come with true honesty.  I value myself enough to tell myself the truth.  Good and bad.

What are some areas in your lifestyle that still need refinement for better health?
Read above about being honest... yep.  Here I go.  I don't work out.  Never have throughout this process.  I had a brief fleeting moment where I thought I would train for a 5K (wanna laugh??? go here to read about my 5k goals!).  Want to know what I did instead?  Obsessed about what music I could download to the correct beat so I could keep up a "good" pace while training for the 5k.  I'm not kidding... I spent 8 hours one day doing that (pre-baby of course!).  Now, with being a new mom - it is totally ridiculous for me to think I'm going to set a work out schedule of 1 hour a day and stick to it.  I know myself well enough to know that is not going to happen.  I'm not proud of that, but it is what it is.  I don't like working out.  I don't like how I feel afterwards.  I don't like the feeling of obligation that comes with a scheduled workout.  So - what I need to do is find a way to incorporate more activity (on a regular) basis that gets me moving and grooving.  I'll tell you what ... dance party with Aiden has put some serious muscle on my arms and has helped me slim down my waist fast after the pregnancy.  Eventually, I will find something that works for me - I think we're going to start with some serious stroller walking in the spring!

Did your relationships change after surgery? If so, did you expect this?  How did you deal with the change?
Some of them have and some of them haven't.  Some of those relationships might have changed anyway.  I think people do see me differently now.  I've been referred to as "tiny" and "little".  I still chuckle at that.  I don't see myself as tiny... probably because I don't associate 170 with tiny, but me being short adds to that I think.  I feel like people that know I've had the surgery watch me eat now.  They look at me and think "can she really eat that - or how can she really eat that much - or should she be eating that".  Those same things, or at least similar, might have been thought about me before, but now I'm aware of them.  I kind of have a love-it or leave it attitude when it comes to people now.  If you're not good for me or you don't add to my life in some sort of a positive way - you are not my problem to fix.  It is my job to surround myself with good people and move on from the rest.  I owe no one an apology about that.  It's less drama and healthier I think.

What has been your greatest accomplishment after surgery?
My son - Aiden : )  See his birth story here - nothing gross, I promise.

What piece of advice or words of wisdom have proved most valuable to you?
-Take pictures! (My one year pictures are here and my 16 month pictures (10 weeks pregnant) pictures are here) Looking back at pictures along the way has been an awesome way for me to reflect throughout this process.  I have them and can't wait to show them to our children someday when they are older.  I worked hard for this and want them to know that if they put their mind to something, they can accomplish it too. 
-Get help.  Whatever that means for you.  One of the reasons I was so stuck in my weight for so many years was because I tried to "keep it all together" for all the wrong reasons.  I never wanted to admit that I didn't know how to do something or couldn't do something.  I still don't take "no" for an answer (well, not very well) - but now I ask for help and it has been a life saver!
-Love yourself and "trust the process"... ; )

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Consignment Baby Shopping - How To's

YAY!!!!  I'm so excited!  I just got home from another baby consignment sale and I scored big!  I mean, really B-I-G : )  I wanted to share what I scored and also some tips for anyone else considering shopping at sales like these.

1) I had never heard of baby consignment sales before moving out here.  I read about them in the paper and heard about them on the radio.  It's kind of like a wedding expo - yes, some of them are that big.  However, there are also more local ones.  Tonight I went to one in Dillsburg, PA.  It was the first year that these sisters were doing it and they did a GREAT job!  I talked to their dad as he was helping me load up my car (yes, their father helped me load my car - great guy) and he said they are planning another one in the fall... let me get my calendar out now!  If you want info - visit their website here:  The sale goes until this Saturday.

2) I found out about this sale and other sales in the area by using the website  You can set a mile radius you're willing to go for a sale and then your search will show you upcoming sales with websites linking you to further information.  I was sad when I searched for sales back in Iowa... nothing came up in my search.  I think it's time I go back there and show them how it's done!!!  My mom and sister and I would rock that!  Maybe the Dillsburg sisters could give us some tips?!?

3) If you are pregnant or are a new mom, usually within the last 12 months, you can register with a lot of these sales to shop early.  (They know we need the most stuff).  I've always found registration to be free, but sometimes they will close once so many shoppers are registered.  You're also usually allowed to bring a guest shopper with you.  One thing I've noticed (and this is just my opinion) - husbands are better to take than mom's.  Now my mom is in Iowa, so she hasn't ever gone with me... and she is a die hard shopper (like me - she trained me), so this isn't really meant towards her.  But when I go to these sales, the husbands are great at spotting FUN things for your baby/kids and also help a ton with carrying things.  Maybe it's because the good husbands go (I've got one of those).  The moms (also known as Grandmas) do a lot of ooohhhing and ahhhhing over little outfits.  They have missed the message that if you wait on something or take too long to look at it - you've missed everything else.  You do NOT go to these sales for onesies.  These sales are all about speed, planning and strategy.

4) Strategy.  Yes, I said strategy for a baby consignment sale!  Here are what I consider my go-to strategies:
- If there are specific things you're looking for, make your list ahead of time and have your "shopper friend" keep their eye out for key things.  If you have a lot to get - divide and conquer!  Meet back in the middle after you've scoured the sections for what you're looking for.
- Look up prices on specific things you want ahead of time.  For example: if you know the pack-n-play you're eying in the store brand-new is $139.99 and you see one at a consignment sale for $40, but it doesn't have all the bells and whistles the one at the store does - you can make an informed decision about whether or not it's a good deal.  (Think extra's on these things for daycare of grandparents houses!  If we lived closer to our parents, I would have snatched up extra of these tonight).
-Buy things that you can wash and/or wipe down with Clorox wipes.  I totally stay away from any sort of stuffed animal or pillow or anything else.  I've found things to be very clean and well organized at all of these sales - but who knows what kind of germs are on any of them.  Better safe than sorry. 
- Leave the clothes shopping for the 1/2 price day (usually the last day or last few hours of a consignment sale) or other garage sales in the spring and summer.  I've found a lot of the consignment prices for clothes are overpriced at these sales.  I'm not sure why that is, but it just is.  I usually only go for things if they are $3 or less unless it's a bigger item, like a coat or a new pair of shoes or a really expensive brand.  But even then, I usually only pay $5 at most for any one thing.  Maybe as Aiden gets older and stays a size for longer than a hot minute, I'll be willing to pay more.
- Double check ahead of time what kind of payment they take AND if you are allowed to bring your own bags/baskets or if you have to use theirs.  Each sale has a different policy.  I went to one last spring when we just found out we were pregnant (totally unprepared) with my own shopping bags (not allowed at that sale) and very little cash (they only took cash... boo!).  Tonight's sale - you could bring all your own bags you wanted and/or use the wonderful baskets they provided and you could pay with credit/debit/cash or check.  Did I mention - I loved tonight's sale?!? 
- Don't bring your kids.  There I said it.  I'm a new mom and apparently a "mean" one.  These sales are crowded.  The last thing I want to do is ask a parent to have their child get off the toy I want to buy for my son.  It makes me feel bad (but not bad enough that I won't do it!).  If you do have a young infant (like we do right now) - bring them in a baby bjorn carrier or have your "helper" hold them (although, they wouldn't be much help at that point to you).  Strollers at these things do NOT work.  They just don't.  And it will limit your shopping ability.  My advice is get a sitter (it will more than pay for itself), ask hubby to hang with the kids or have a family member/friend watch the kids while you go do some serious shopping damage.
- Finally - bring a big enough vehicle with you.  You never know what you're going to find at these things.  There was an adorable slide and outdoor play set at the sale tonight that I just LOVED!  I knew Aiden would love it in our big back yard too next spring and maybe even this fall.  I didn't get it because I was at this sale by myself and I hadn't done my research on pricing.  The nice slide was going for $40 - not sure if that was a deal or not, but you better bet I'll do my research for the fall sales so I can scoop those up!  I hope we have a van by then, but if not - I'll plan to borrow someones to take to a sale just so I know I can load up if needed (and I drive an SUV people!).

Alright - this momma is getting tired.  Real quick - here is the comparison of prices from what I got tonight.
Busy Zoo Activity Toy.  Retail: $89.95 (newer version)  Tonight's Price: $18
Baby Bjorn Carrier - original black. Retail: $89.99   Tonight's Price: $15
Eddie Bauer Travel Bed.  Retail: 39.99  Tonight's Price: $15
Mega Blocks Wagon. Retail: 29.99  Tonight's Price: $7.50
V-Tech 3-in-1 Smart Wheels.  Retail: 49.99  Tonight's Price: $10
V-Tech Spin-n-Learn Top. Retail: 15.99 (newer version) Tonight's Price: $4
Fisher Price Mirror. Retail: $16.99 (newer version)  Tonight's Price: $1.50
Sassy Crib and Floor Mirror.  Retail: $19.99  Tonight's Price: $1.50
5 Pk of Body Suits (New).  Retail: $25.99  Tonight's Price: $5.50
Carter's Joby Shoes.  Retail: $10.99  Tonight's Price: $2.00
Carter's Shoes. Retail: 11.99  Tonight's Price: $2.50
Bruin Stacking Cups. Retail: 4.99 Tonight's Price: $3.00 (Boo, I thought the cups retailed for more than that!)
Carters footed sleepers (x2).  Retail: 31.98 for both  Tonight's Price: $3 for both
Baby Gap Rain Jacket (not currently on website)  Usually Retails around $24.95  Tonight's Price:$5.50
Carters 2 piece short set (not currently on website)  Usually Retails around $15.99  Tonight's Price: $1.00

Total Retail: $479.76  Tonight's Total: $95  80% savings!!!