Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Top 2011 Gifts

In no particular order:

1. I found out a month ago my sister Tami is pregnant again...an early present :)....but I found out yesterday that her husband was in fact going to allow 'us' to find out the sex!! I'm so excited, this is the first neice/nephew I will know in advance!

2. Several years ago my family decided we were done with presents for each other and would much rather just enjoy our time together and only spend money on the kids. This year my other family (Sean's family) decided that from now on that's what we're going to do as well! Yay!  I'm not a humbug by any means, I really love giving gifts, but it's very hard to buy them presents so usually just exchange gift cards anyway. We've been trying to get them on board with this for a few years!

3. The hilarity that ensues when my family plays games at Christmas.  We played this one again this year...
Some examples: everyone is supposed to name a 'thing you would like to do in a blackout'...answer 1 - kick Kellin in the nuts, answer 2 - fondle, kiss, cuddle.  It took us all round to get Sean was answer 1, even though it's pretty obvious :)  Dad unfortunately was the owner of answer 2 :(  Then last question was 'some thing you wish you didn't know'....best answer - that dad wants to fondle, lol! Tami, that was a good one.

4. The Bible I'm getting with the Hull's gift certificate I received!  I've really been wanting a few different Bibles, a Parallel Bible, an Amplified Bible, an Archaelogical Bible....I found the Expanded Bible that has a good combination of all those versions :) I had to order it because they only had a boring hard cover, but it's worth the wait.

5. Almost a whole day of my neice Brooklynn stuck to my side. Usually this lasts for a shortwhile but everytime I turned around she was next to me or saving a spot for me. I love it.

6. And of course, as usual, the huge smiles (or otherwise equally adorable looks) on all the kids' faces as the magic of Christmas takes place. 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Stewardship Saturday

So here is a recap of my 2011 Stewardship Steps and how I've grown through the year, for more details you can search my label "Stewardship".  I am much preferring this to type of 'to do' list, not because I was able to accomplish so much more of my list, but most of the items I was doing without even monitoring it against my list, it truly is a reflection of my heart and what I want my life to look like!

Stewardship of My Finances
1. Before buying anything new first consider reusing/recycling -this is something I still have to work on better, but not being able to find a suitable used item to buy did sway me from buying some things altogether, realizing we could live without them. Part of the Financial Peace course talked about where to find bargains, I think if I have enough time in 2012 I'm going to do more garage sale/consignment store shopping!
2. Smarter money management - with the Financial Peace course I was able to pay off $2500 in debt and save $500 in just 2 months, as well as on track to pay off another $3000 by Spring, and to pay off our vehicle 1.5 years early.
3. Give more tithe than we already give - already have a plan (again, thanks to Financial Peace course :) to move money from an area that shouldn't have been used as an investment, upon cancelling that we'll be using the cash value we built up towards our Church's building fund.
4. Cap my Stampin’ Up! expenses to 50% of 2010 expenditures- not only did I just about stop all expenses altoghether, but I went out of business and sold off about 66% of my inventory for a decent amount....which helped pay off debt.

Stewardship of My Home
5. Schedule a small Fly Lady tactic every day, to maintain a tidy & welcoming home without a LOT of effort - as I've mentioned, I'm not quite on par with the 'per day', but my whole home has been in a state of easy maintenance for most of the year, especially with short notice guests, it takes hardly any effort to make our home more welcoming and tidy.
6. Establish a list of at least 60 staple recipes and rotate in a 12 month menu - My meal plans ended up being 90 in number, which I organized by meat/flavor and rotated per week, then OAMC/d most of the meat after a Costco shop. This plan has kept me right on track, I blogged them all with the title "What's on the Table Tuesday".  It's been a life saver and will be doing it again next year!
7. Make as much food from scratch as possible to avoid unnecessary preservatives & packaging & cost - I have made the following from scratch this year:
~roasted red peppers    ~almond butter      ~homemade broth   ~oregano infused olive oil & vodka
~tomato sauce with stewed veggies and spices   ~dry soup mixes (no chemical or preservatives)

~roasted turkey for OAMC as well as lunch meat, instead of deli meat   ~homemade granola
~naturally flavored my plain yogurt   ~flavor infused rice in my rice cooker
~homemade dressings with veggies blended with mayo (bought with no unpronouncable ingredients)
~homemade tomato soup  ~homemade turkey stew   ~homemade fries in my Actifry

8. Improve yard, by installing brick patio, add BBQ pit & replace broken sidewalk - due to our finance goals changing, and a few unplanned for expenditures, this will be on hold for awhile, but still want to use discarded sand bags from the city to lay brick over, and will still utilize the annual summer deal we get an inside scoop on.
9. Finish improvements to upstairs bathroom - all finished as per this post.

Stewardship of My Body
10. Create a list of weekly weight loss motivators/challenges to last through year - although I stopped following the list after a few months I have in other ways built up some of these as habits and that was what I wanted to do, was create more awareness of my actions and develop good habits. I work out on the treadmill twice a week unless I walk significant amounts outside the house.  I wake up at 6 am to do weights or pilates at least 2 times per week, aim for 4 times per week. I snack way less and more healthy when I do, drink more water and less sugary drinks, eat in moderation and no longer eat based on how much I've worked out. I eat more clean foods (partly 'less processed', partly based on the Maker's Diet).
11. Lose 20lbs and maintain that weight - I have lost 12 lbs and with my new 'whole health' perspective I am confident I can shed the rest of the weight.
12. Try a Zumba class to make being active enjoyable again - I did not have a chance to try this after all, but with running becoming more enjoyable again I'm not too worried.  A friend of mine is hoping to get trained as a Zumba instructor and so I look forward to still trying this one day, and as her student would be even better!
13. Create/maintain a better daily health routine - I have to love my body and not just my image, my body is also affected by how I treat my skin, my teeth, taking my vitamins, etc. I have remarkedly improved in this area and actually have reduced the amount of nose bleeds I normally get due to taking allery medication and nasal flushing habits. My hip hasn't been a problem all year, probably due to increased activity and vitamins.

Stewardship of My Earth
14. Assist composting with more room in yard & kitchen caddy - we removed a bush to make room for a large compost area and I recycled plastic containers to make my own kitchen caddy.
15. Grow my own vegetables, fruit, herbs or purchase from Farmer’s Market - my experiment with container gardening wasn't as successful as I'd hoped, my carrots and peas were tiny and my peppers never came in at all, but I got a bush of oregano I have to end up giving most of it away!  I did learn from it though and hope to make modifications to make it more successful next year.  And I did hit the farmers market a few times, which was mostly good, although worms in the broccoli was not something I was a fan of.  Having a 1000 ml container of honey for $5 I do like!
16. Have a 100 mile meal once a month - I wasn't nearly as diligent as I'd hoped I would be with this, meat is the hardest to be intentional about so I hope realizing that I can do better than 4 meals per year next year.
17. Use organic/natural herbicides & pesticides - with container gardening I didn't have to use pesticides and I did find an organic herbicide but due to the frequent rainy weather I ended up manually pulling all our weeds this year.  That's a natural weed killer :)
18. Find 3 more ‘One Million Acts of Green’ I can try - it was hard to find 3 because most of what' left on the list is pretty major. I wanted to try conserving more water (which I learned about during my Justice Journey), turning off/unplugging my computer - and as many other appliances as I can remember - daily, and drying my clothes instead of using the dryer. I did somewhat well with the appliances, water conservation I could do better in some areas but I've really tried to multi-use cleaning water and we also got a free kit from the City of Winnipeg to attach to our shower heads to reduce water.  I dried a few pieces of clothes on our inside clothes line but didn't even get one whole load on the outside line for drying.  I blamed the moist weather we seemed to get every other day in the summer, but I'm sure I could have found a way. Another one to try next year.

Stewardship of My Talents/Purpose
19. Blog truth insights I receive - these are fewer and farther between than they used to be, but I believe I'm sharing a different kind of insight now...when I get a chance to blog. My time and my insights have mostly been shared now with my Recovery group every Friday night.
20. Start focusing on developing my other creative tendancies other than papercrafts  - things I've created in the last year:
~ frames for my bathroom     ~ bracelet for myself    ~ started sewing a purse from old tank tops
~ started saving old clothes for pieces of a quilt I'm going to sew  ~ wrote a poem
~ created our 2011 Christmas photo card

21. Capture memories in scrapbooks and photobooks, finishing at least one of each - I couldn't finish my wedding scrapbook because the type of pages used by that album are extinct! I might have to try ebay. But I did finish a dating 'scrapbook' that I did through blurb books, it has the ease of creating a photo book but I could use digital scrapbooking pretties to make it look at some points like a scrapbook.
22. Continue at least one entry per journal per month - I only did this about every other month, but it's something I still want to strive at.
Stewardship of My Communities
23. Set aside at least 2 hrs per week for quality time with Sean, not including date nights - this may have been a bit ambitious in hindsight, maybe a total of 6 hours per month is more reasonable. We did however spend a lot of time serving next to each other, which was definitely quality time :)
24. Donate blood at least once - due to my tattoo retouch I wasn't allowed to give until September....when I got crazy busy.  Gotta try for this one again next year.
25. Volunteer to help someone with something they can’t do for themselves 2x per year - have done more than 2 times this year! Puppy fostering for several months, giving rides to friends without a vehicle, we even tried to pay for someone in financial need to be able to take the Financial Peace course but this term no one needed our donation.
26. Babysit one or some of my nieces/nephew(s) at least once - babysat all of them once and the girls twice.
27. Organize/host at least one gathering of friends every other month - this was completely on pace, actually ahead of my goal, until September hit, but most of my 'gatherings' have been one-on-one with girlfriends since then.
28. Invite at least two couples from Church into our home for a meal - yay! I got a 100% on this one! Although technically one was in our backyard not IN our home :)
29. Volunteer in mentorship opportunities at Church - well....there is that little thing I do called Celebrate Recovery every Friday night.

Stewardship of My Growth
30. Step out of my comfort zone, and any time I get a case of ‘that’s not me’s’, attempt to try whatever it is anyway - nothing significant in this area comes to mind...of course I could be getting better at not labeling myself in the first place.
31. Learn to play guitar - I received another lesson this summer and realized I need much shorter nails to keep that up. Oh, and more time.
32. Read all non-fiction books on my shelf - got through 2 of the 6 and had another 5 added to my shelf :(
33. Improve my photography skills - this may have to be a backburner, it's been on my list for far too many years now, with no time put to this at all really.  But maybe if I put it on my list I'll actually be reminded that it's important enough to be on my list, and give it a whirl during some free time, lol.
34. Media fast one day per month - I actually completely forgot about this one after my fast in the Spring, but I've probably 'accidently' done this most months.
35. Keep up prayer journal and bible study blog - well, unfortunately the same tale, same sad ending for this goal.  However I did create a prayer 'checklist' on my iPhone, one for all the important people in my life and other prayer requests that come up, so when I'm staring at my phone looking for something to entertain me while bored, I can be prompted with who needs prayer for what. I did also start listening to the New Testament on CD in the car and I finished the whole NT just a few days ago. I should get the OT version for next year.

Stewardship of Living My Life
36. Read to relax and be entertained in a healthy way - only got through one fiction book
37. Take a trip with hubby to Las Vegas - no trips until all but vehicle and house debt is paid off.

38. Go to at least one Folklorama pavilion - yup, went with mom and sisters
39. Go out on the town by myself3 times - only did 2 out of 3 times, but I got a mani-pedi one time! No art gallery this year though, maybe next year.
40. Take at least 4 hours per month to pamper myself - as I wrote in one of my last posts, pampering myself hasn't been quite as important to me as it once was. I still should make some time now and then to unwind in a bubble bath though.

Can't wait to start on my next list!

Friday, December 23, 2011

My home away from home....

....is our Church.  I've mentioned a little about it's growing and how exciting this time is for our Church family.  We've been growing in leaps and bounds for about 4 years now but between wanting to stay in Elmwood and needing more Sunday morning seating our options have been rejected over and over again for quite awhile now. In the mean time we've squeezed in a third service but in a building down the street (at MBCI) which we have to rent, we had to buy two sets of visual/sound equipment, AND our staff have to run back and forth between the buildings to serve at all 3 services!  It's not an ideal location so it's been hard to get people to move over to that service (us included, we tried it and just couldn't hack it).

Then, our Pastor, during the GL Summit's session on Audacity, heard God saying our building plans were not audacious enough, and that we had to first set our audacity towards seeking the lost, reaching even more people rather than a fancy new building, and God would provide once we were doing that. So that's what he preached from the pulpit, and then a few weeks later he went to a conference for growing Churches and found a model that tugged at his heart. There was one Church there that instead of building one ginormous Church they decided to aquire smaller buildings within walking distance of where they already were and each place would have it's own live worship music and announcements and coffee time, kidzone would be in the main building, but the message part would be a live feed of the sermon at the satellite location.  And you never knew which building the actual live pastor would be at or if you were getting the feed that Sunday :) This type of model could give us a total of 2000 seats at about 1/4-1/5th the cost of one 2000 seat building! We already have a second smaller building we could maybe utilize this way.
All of a sudden, shortly after he came back, several smaller buildings near by all became available for sale!  A plan began to form. 
Here's a bit what that looks like:

Riverwood Building Tour, Supper & Vote from Riverwood Church on Vimeo.

Our members voted 100% in favor of going ahead with a bid on a property just a month ago that we we are now signing paper work to purchase, that would also give us parking we were sorely lacking, as well as a second building that is almost auditorium ready, that would give us about 300-400 seats, so up to 900 more seats Sunday mornings, as well as room for even more buildings to be built in the future.  Then the old YFC (Youth For Christ) building talked about in this clip was also just voted on, on the 11th and passed with 98% approval and our bid was just accepted this last week!

We are SO excited about the potential for our Church and our different ministries to grow with this plan! And it's interesting that the Church Sean first attended with me exactly 10 years ago was our Church plant from Southland (my Steinbach home Church) and it was held in this very YFC building.  It's amazing how God works, Merry Christmas to Riverwood, what a gift!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wellness Wednesday

Well, I'm happy to report that even though my weight 'pendulum' did swing back about 2-3 lbs, I lost those again and another 2 lbs! I may not have gone down a whole size but my size 14 pants are all very loose, some in a flattering way :) and some are just about to fall off all together and make me look like I lost my butt, lol.
Here's what I looked like in a certain shirt where I couldn't hide my gut, and what I look like in it now. The pants I'm wearing in the second pic were my tightest pair.

I'm lovin' this new healthy living. I've stopped counting calories, I haven't even been doing my 15 min. weights/pilates every morning, I've been eating Christmas baking and have eaten out a little more lately, but I've been paying attention to when I'm full more, I've stopped most weekday evening snacking, as well as sticking to my 2 detox days & 1 vegetarian day each week. I feel like I have way more freedom than I've had the last 4 years since I orginally began this weightloss journey.  And I'm 2 lbs lighter than the low I hit in fall of 2008 when I was working at it the hardest. 
Back then I hit 30 lbs total since early 2007, now I've lost 32 lbs. 32lbs!!! That's almost the size of my neice!!

Not to mention I probably lost about 15 lbs back in early 2003 (just before our wedding). This is me at my heaviest.

And I lost about another 5 lbs in 2005. So, from my heaviest point to now I've lost about 50 lbs! When you tack on the weight of another (albeit tiny) human to your body it's a little eye opening how overweight I was. And even though I feel I have about another 10 lbs to go, it makes me feel so able to conquer the last (and likely hardest) bit of weight.  It may have taken me 8 years but I've lost almost 50 lbs, I can handle another 10. God has given me so many tools and support systems along the way, and he's given me value for myself that I used to never have. I am a new creation, my mind has been renewed, and in turn so has my body. PTL.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

What's on the Table Tuesday

Well, this is the last week of my meal plan, I can hardly believe it lasted almost 4 months!! Portions will likely be changing in my future pre-packing of these recipes because we had more leftovers than anticpated, but otherwise I'm so excited to try this again, and likely will be over the holidays! I am of course revising my list somewhat, as I have changed me dietary needs since I first created this list, and I think I may add in a few new recipes to try out as well, but this has made my life SO much easier and our grocery budget SO much cheaper :)

So, without further ado, here are the last of my meals, which actually don't follow my current dietary weekly plan, but it's all that's left over so gotta eat it :)

Ham Melts - Going to fry up some slices of ham from a honey ham roast, add them to some rye bread with mustard and mozarella and stick in my paninni press. Yum.

Spicy Peanut Spring Stir-Fry - which I'll be serving over brown rice. I can eat it without the carbs (like I did a few weeks ago with the chicken variation, although those shanghai noodles are hard to pass up!) but if I add a complex carb it keeps my cravings at bay for the rest of the evening.

Ham Primavera - my own version of this recipe I modified, I'm going to miss it with my elimination of ham.  Maybe I'll have to try and find a good substitute and keep this fav. Farmer sausage can be bought 50% beef but still has a mostly pork flavour, maybe I can sub that.

Baked Falafel Balls  - in Naan bread with tzaziki sauce and a side of curry fried potatoes. And just a side note, my vegetarian meatballs last week I actually loved! I fried them up nice and crisp (actually forgot the beans so I used textured vegetable protein, subbed quinoa and a little panko for bread crumbs, but probably should have added some refried beans just to make it all stick together better, they were a bit crumbly) and dipped them in a little ketchup - which I usually do with meatballs anyway - and I was a happy camper. The fritters were great as well but I need to shred the veggies thinner next time as they didn't all get cooked through.

Farmer Sausage Burgers (50 pork/50 beef) - served with some saurkraut perogies for the hubby, since I can fill up on these burgers alone!

Lumaconi Pasta - a one dish casserole that I am ever so fond of!

Triple 'P' Salad - a salad my sister Jodi introduced me to and I find it an awesome way to use leftover poultry, and it has every food group all included in this delicious salad!

Thanks for joining me on this adventure, I'm glad it inspired a few of you along the way. I'll be sure to add a recipe now and again as I change things up in the future.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Night Before Christmas

Our Church has an annual tradition of having our Christmas production/service on the 24th instead of the 25th, leaving the 25th for family celebrations (other than the meal they serve at our Hope Center for the Elmwood community who have no Christmas celebrations of their own).
This year our production is looking really awesome!  Not that it isn't enjoyable every year :) But if any of my friends are into musical theatre, our Church has a very talented group of actors/singers/dancers who will be putting on a production all day Dec. 24th! It's a modern twist on an old story, a fun entertainment for the whole family. There will be hot drinks and treats, Sean and I will be hanging out in the fireside room all day, if any of you come, drop by and see us there!
Click the picture to link to all the details. And below is a little vimeo about it.

Word on the Street from Riverwood Church on Vimeo.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

She let herself go

I have found myself over the last few months paying way less attention to my looks.  Not that I’ve let myself go completely! But I’ve let myself go a little, in a good way.  I have never been high maintenance, but there are a few things I was particular about, like my hair having to be ‘just so’ – I hated stray hairs or unsmooth pony tails, etc., and I had to get rid of chipped nail polish quickly, and thinning out my eyebrows.  But, time is in short supply these days, so I haven’t stayed on top of these things like I used to.  And at first it bugged me. A few times I’ve noticed my lack of maintenance upkeep on Fridays and of course there is NO time on Fridays to sneak in a quick ‘fixer upper’, but there is another reason I end up not worrying about it.  I stop and think of the message I may be sending with having to appear 'perfect', having to have a ‘pristine finish’ to my appearance.  I may feel prettier, but a less than perfect exterior may actually be more inviting to the people I see Friday nights.  I think of when I was in my darkest moments I might have (and likely did) begrudge the 'perfection' I noticed in others.

So, I'm letting myself go.  I waited a few weeks longer than normal to touch up my roots.  I have almost every finger with chipped nail polish. I have some straggly hairs that refuse to be tamed and I don't care.  I may have worn the same top last week because I haven't had time for laundry.  And I think I'm becoming a better person for it.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

My God Story

Our pastor asked us recently to share our God stories on his blog, I decided to share, I hope you check it out here.  Mine is the fifth story.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Miscellany Monday

Miscellany Monday @ lowercase letters

~ well, I haven't done a 'catch up' Miscellany Monday since October, thought it would be an easy way to catch up on all that's happened so far in December!

~ Dec. 3rd we went to the Doc Walker concert at Pantages Playhouse.  They are a Manitoba Country band and they haven't had a concert (except Country Fest-like concerts) since they opened for Paul Brandt back in like 2002-ish. We've been hoping they would someday soon have a concert we would attend in Winnipeg and were ecstatic to find out they were coming. We even got pre-sale tickets, front row! It was a great show!

~ Dec. 7th we started another short stay-cation because we went to the Paul Brandt/High Valley concert this evening. We see Paul Brandt everytime he comes to Winnipeg, and High Valley opening was a bonus! We've been waiting 4 years for him to come back (he came to Portage la Prairie 2 years ago, we went to that one too)! It's funny, we found out only a few days after buying Doc Walker tickets but we made it work to buy 9th row center tickets for Paul too.  His concerts get better and better every time!

~ Dec. 8-9th we took off for some errands/appointments and relax time before the holidays, since Sean couldn't use the last of his vacation time during the holidays.  Got a mani/pedi from Groupon that I used and it was actually a nice little place, I've already got plans to come back.

~ Dec. 8th our recovery leaders had our monthly meeting and it was a really awesome time of connecting.  We had a chance to share more significantly with each other, earn a little more trust with each other, pray for one of our own who is struggling medically (and prayers were immediately answered the next day!).

~ Dec. 10th was my office Christmas party which was a great time of visiting as always.  We've been trying out different venues, trying our best to combine being able to freely visit (not a table dinner where you only visit in your radius) but also a relaxing time where we are served and don't have to work at the meal in amongst visiting (like the potluck we tried last year).  I think we were closer this year, however the room wasn't as private as we thought and so other parties on the same floor kind of squashed us in a corner and we had trouble hearing each other as the evening went on.  Practice makes perfect, but it was still a really great time.

~ Dec. 11th was our annual mom and daughter Christmas baking day....which my two neices were able to help (slightly) with this year for the first time.  We of course got caught up in baking and visiting, only got half done, I forgot to take pictures, but here are some of the results :) Including the shortbread dough I had to bring home to bake tonight.

And of course, the usual bits of life have continued in amongst it all as well.  Looking forward to life quitening in a month (yes a full month), but will enjoy the time with family and friends, even amidst crazy chaos, until then.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

What's on the Table Tuesday

Here are the recipes for my meal plan these next two weeks:

Something Different Stew - substitute white potatoes with sweet potatoes.

Spicy Peanut Spring Stir-Fry - serve over shanghai noodles for Sean, throw in some extra veggies like waterchestnuts and babycorn for me.

Apple Onion Pork Chops - served over Fresh Quinoa Pilaf.

Shell Pasta in Marinara - (the vegetarian meal) marinade roasted veggies in tomato sauce for at least an hour, pour over pasta and sprinkle liberally with cheese.

Tuna Melts - my grill has a paninni setting, going to make some tuna salad, with chopped pickles, top with mozzarella and grill, and a side of fries (in the Actifry of course).

Crispy Ranch Chicken - substitute panko for shake n' bake, serve with sweet potatoes and a side of veggies.

Lemon Pepper Tuna Quinoa Stir-Fry - with quinoa, this grain has a lot of protein so I include it on my detox days.

Lasagna - one layer ground beef, one layer tomato sauce marinade roast veggies.  I love lasagna, especially because it will probably give me leftovers for the weekend :)

Veggie Fritters w/  Meatballs (add 3/4 cup walnuts, sub beans for soy, add onion, cook in broth)

Crab Salad Subs - we love the seafood sub from Subway, but making it our own is even better! Just mix imitation crap (shredded with a fork) with some mayo, a small squeeze of lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. I top it with swiss cheese, tomatoes and black olives, yum!

Here is the host blog of Titus 2sdays, a great place for house-wifery and godly woman(wife)hood!
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