A Simple But Satisfying Lunch

For several months now, I’ve had a difficult time sleeping through the night. I can fall asleep just fine; staying asleep is the problem. The pain in my hips, lower back and shoulders is intense enough to wake me and prevent returning to sleep. Most of the day I’m dragging around because I’m exhausted. My feet are quite painful when I walk, especially first thing in the morning and after exercise, due to plantar fasciitis. I refuse to rely on pain medication to combat all of these issues, and so I’ve been researching how to beat pain with nutrition.

Most of what I’m learning is what is true for so many other ailments and conditions:  Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, organic dairy, nuts, fish, very lean poultry, and eat less sugar, processed foods and saturated fats. While my diet is already fairly healthy, there is plenty of room for improvement. When I’m hurting, my cravings are for sweets, especially chocolate, and whatever is easy to grab, like granola bars or pretzels. Eating those things satisfies my palate, but in the end actually makes my pain worse, creating a vicious cycle.

And so, I am making a more focused attempt to eat foods that will both satisfy and bring relief. In so doing, I will most likely shed a few pounds too – nice bonus! And I’m hoping that eventually a full night’s sleep will happen as well. It will take some time eating properly – and consistently – for the results to be felt, but I am determined!

For lunch on Monday, I prepared a dish that turned out quite yummy and meets all of my nutrition requirements. The abundance of squash in our garden is what inspired my recipe.

Couscous with Veggies and Beans

1 cup water or vegetable broth
2/3 cup whole wheat couscous
1 small yellow squash, shredded
1 small zucchini, shredded
1 medium carrot, shredded
1/2 cup canned black beans, drained and well rinsed
fresh ground black pepper
sea salt
1/4 tsp ground cumin

Bring water or vegetable broth to a boil in a large saucepan. Add couscous, vegetables and beans; stir well. Remove from heat and cover pan; let sit for 5-7 minutes. Add cumin and salt and pepper to taste; stir again.

Makes about 4 servings.

I used vegetable broth, because it adds more flavor. Also, it’s a good idea to shred the squash before you start the liquid to boiling. If a chunk of squash and/or carrot gets stuck in the Salad Shooter, like happened to me, part of your water is going to boil away while you fix things. This really isn’t that big a problem, though – just add more water to the pan.

Here’s to future pain-free nights and refreshing mornings!

The fog hovers over the soybean field, yielding to the sun as it climbs out of bed. Good morning!

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Sunday Style

Finally, a fashion post from the barely heard from middle sister!  I usually only dress up on Sundays and the occasional event that requires something more than jeans and a tshirt.  And now that the heat has lessened I actually feel like putting a little more effort into my outfits.  Please pardon the mess in the background and the dorky look on my face but snapping a picture of myself with my phone never produces a natural look!

Dress: Old Navy, Cardigan: JCPenny, Belt: Target, Shoes: Famous Footware, Necklace: Cato, Earrings: Dollar General (I think.  Not that you can even see them.).

Sunday Morning After The Rain

We FINALLY got some rain!!!! Praise God, from Whom all blessings FLOW! It rained most of the day Friday and off-and-on Saturday. Today, of course, is muggy as all-get-out due to all the moisture in the air, but that’s OK. The rain was desperately needed!

Because of the rain, I was forced to rearrange my craft / computer room. Sadly, the leak in the roof has made a comeback, and it rained on the computer desk again. The keyboard has always been the hardest hit by the leak, since it is directly under the hole in the ceiling, but it is still working! The desk is in poor shape, however. The right-hand drawers are swollen and totally stuck shut. That’s where my thread, yarn, twine, inner facing and patches are stored! Once we have a dedicated office room, however, we’ll be using a new desk for the computer, so even if we have to hack the drawers with an axe to get to my thread, it won’t be any great loss. Rather than take any more chances with the computer getting wet again, I decided to move the desk to the opposite side of the room. It’s a small room – about 9’x11′ – so it was difficult to figure out how to arrange things. (There’s a LOT in here, due to the remodeling going on in the rest of the house.) But, now the only thing in the leaky area of the room is a tall stool, on which rests a bucket to catch the drips. Yes, we will be getting a new roof, but until that happens, a stool holding a bucket will do the trick.

And so….outfit pics this morning were taken out on the WET front patio! It was not raining at the time, but I would have posed outdoors anyway. Rain is pretty awesome when so much of the country is in a drought!

 Dress – thrifted
Tank – Walmart
Sweater – can’t remember
 Without the sweater
 Red seaglass necklace – eBay
Red belt – Walmart
Sandals – JCP, I think (I’ve had these a LONG time!)
This dress was purchased at a yard sale this summer, for $1, and it has sat in my altering pile for weeks. Last week, I finally got to it – cut off about 3 inches and hemmed it. My poor sewing machine doesn’t like knits at all, despite having the correct needle for the job, so please don’t look too closely at the stitching in that hem! It looks TERRIBLE!!! But since I’m the only one who will most likely peer at it, we’re not going to worry about it. 
I’m not entirely sure this dress is a good look for me, after all. Maybe it’s the tank underneath – but that was necessary in order to make it decent for church. Perhaps a different color would have been better? Or maybe I’ll just let this dress go. Because it is a knit, it’s not very cool to wear in the heat, even though it is a sundress. Sundresses should always be cotton, in my opinion. Or maybe silk. But that wouldn’t be terribly practical.
Perhaps I can use this dress better in the fall. Picture it with tights and boots, with a jacket. Oooo…how about a leather jacket? I don’t have one, but I’ve seen that leather is going to be THE look this fall. Guess what I will be scouting for at Goodwill and the other thrift stores now? 😉 All right…I’ll hold onto the dress for now, just to see if I can make it work for fall.

Cookies!

If you have known me very long at all, you know that I love cookies. Baking cookies, eating cookies, giving cookies as gifts, inventing new cookies, reading about cookies, and if I could draw, I’d doodle cookies. So when my friend LR from church found herself stretched to the limit and not having time to bake 20 dozen cookies herself, I happily volunteered to do the job. She insisted that I have a helper, so she recruited RS to help me.

I’ve been living the cookie life all week. Monday afternoon, I chose the recipes and made a shopping list. On Tuesday, the ingredients were purchased and assembled:

The next morning, my KitchenAid mixer got a workout cranking out three jumbo recipes; oatmeal raisin, Snickerdoodle and chocolate chip.

No cookie dough was snitched and eaten – primarily because I used store-bought eggs instead of my own chickens’ supply. The extreme heat this summer has reduced their laying considerably, so I didn’t have enough to spare for all this cookie dough. When I do use my girls’ eggs to make cookie dough, there is plenty of nibbling going on. None of my family has ever gotten sick consuming raw egg originating from The Girls.

All this dough was stashed in the refrigerators overnight, then taken to the church this morning. RS and I met around 9am and turned the church kitchen into a cookie factory!

RS dipping Snickerdoodles in cinnamon sugar

Me scooping oatmeal raisin cookies

Our church has a nice large convection oven, so we were able to bake a lot of cookies at one time. It would have gone even faster if we’d had more than one cookie scoop to work with. I brought my Pampered Chef scoop, and had purchased a Faberware scoop at Walmart along with the ingredients on Tuesday. We scooped three cookies with the Faberware scoop and it was apparent that the thing was completely worthless. Guess what’s being returned the next trip to town??? And guess what’s being requested to purchase for the church kitchen the next time our resident Pampered Chef rep makes an order???

Three and a half hours later, the entire church smelled like Cookie Heaven and we had more than 25 dozen beautiful cookies.

These will be served this coming Sunday morning during a special Prayer Walk, organized by our Capital Campaign Prayer Team. All members of our congregation are invited to come spend an hour praying for each other, our various ministries and the building expansion project. May God bless the cookies, the prayers, the people and the project!

A Bright & Sunny Summer Day

My Bestie and I met for one last coffee at our favorite little coffee shop this morning before she made the long journey back home. After we said our good-byes, I had some shopping to do. The weather today has been sunny and hot, but nothing like the super-hot days just a few weeks ago. I was able to start out the day with this happy scarf:

Coral tee: Walmart
Skirt: Goodwill
Scarf: thrifted
Dansko sandals: Trade Home Shoes
The skirt has a fun flower detail that isn’t very noticeable in the photo above, so here is a (poorly taken) close-up:
Now that our Town has a Goodwill Store, I’m afraid most of my grocery shopping trips will also include an excursion to Goodwill. This isn’t really a problem, is it? Today’s sack full of goodies included two items for Some Postman. See…I’m not entirely selfish when I’m thrifting!

Spending Time With My Bestie

Way back when I was a young newlywed, I thought that my husband was the only friend I needed. I had a few girlfriends from high school, but we weren’t nearly as close as we’d been and rarely, if ever, did anything together. My husband was my world. Nothing wrong with that, but…it doesn’t take long before you figure out that making one person your entire world is taxing on your relationship with that person. It isn’t reasonable to expect one’s husband to be everything to you; he’s a finite human being, just as I am.

This is why God blesses us with sisters and/or girlfriends. Who understands a woman better than another woman? There are plenty of things about us girls that men just don’t get. And so, over the years, I have developed plenty of friendships with other women – my two sisters, ladies from church, neighbors, the gals in Book Club, my mom, a sister in Christ whom I have never met in person (we are email besties!), my dear Bestie Rox, and so many others! I think my relationship with my husband is much better off when I’ve had time with my “sisterchicks”. (In case you don’t know what a Sisterchick is, find out more here.) This past Monday was a Sisterchick Day for me and my Bestie, Rox.

First, we had breakfast and lots of conversation at Early Edition:

Then we went next door to the newly opened Goodwill store. I wish I’d taken a picture of us there, but I didn’t think of it til later. We were there for a couple of hours! It’s a really nice, clean, neat store and we loaded up a cart full of awesome stuff. I am so thrilled that now I can find fun Goodwill bargains just like my blogger friend Grammy Goodwill! One of my favorite finds from Monday’s haul is a little black dress, new with tags – original price was $112, but I paid a mere $5.49!
All that bargain hunting made us hungry, so we tootled over to our favorite coffee spot, Radina’s, where we shared a sandwich & salad and a big slice of Chocolate Turtle Cake – and coffee, of course. Mmm…good! Radina’s is “our place” and I just can’t go there without my Bestie – which is probably a good thing for the sake of my waistline!

Rox and I did a teensy bit more shopping at the mall – a quick hop into Victoria’s Secret to use our “free panty” coupons – and then we hugged goodbye. Time for me to head home to Some Postman and for her to finish her to-do list.

Oh, how much I cherish the time spent with my Bestie! We laugh, hug, tease, eat, talk, goof around, shop, and sometimes we just sit quietly together. Just what we both needed, to refuel our “love pitchers” for our husbands and kids and everyone else that we care about.

Here’s to you, Rox!

Sunday Morning Surprise!

Surprise! A few of my Naked Ladies survived the drought and popped out of their hiding spots a few days ago. See how dry the ground is around them? We’ve had so little rain this summer, it’s a wonder anything is even slightly green. But I did pour some used duck water on the places where the surprise lilies hibernate, when I could. All my flowers had to share the duck water, so they didn’t get it every day – or even every other day. It was enough for these little ladies to make an appearance, however! Lilies of all sorts are my favorite flowers…they make me smile!
Another surprise:
Skirt, tank & cardigan – Dress Barn
OK, it’s not too surprising, but I did color my hair back to its normal medium brown. The sun had really bleached out the caramel highlights I had put in for the summer and the roots with their smattering of gray were not blending in very well anymore. 
Last week, I stopped in the fairly new Dress Barn store in the mall. It’s been there several months now, but I haven’t taken the time to do more than one quick browse when they first opened. They’ve been there long enough to have a clearance section now, so that was where I shopped. Everything in the store really appealed to me! Dress Barn may be my new favorite clothing source. It used to be JC Penney’s, but I’ve hardly shopped there since they stopped issuing coupons. And I’m not overly fond of most of their current designers. I tried on a bunch of things at Maurice’s recently, and while I like their styles, they don’t fit me well – I’m too lumpy for the regular sizes, but too small for the plus sizes. Dillards has some really nice things, but even the clearance prices are too steep for my wallet. Dress Barn’s clearance isn’t super cheap, but I really love the pieces I bought.
Check out the lace detail on the back of the cardigan!
 Nude sandals – Khol’s
Peacock feather bangle bracelet – Walmart