My Whole30 Results

It's been almost a month since my Whole30 challenge ended.  No grains, no dairy, no legumes, no sugar (of ANY kind) for 30 days.

Have I reverted back to my old {bad} eating habits since then?

No, not really. Although I've added dairy back into my diet I haven't noticed any severe adverse effects from doing so.  I allow some sweeteners such as honey or maple syrup or agave, but I've been pretty good at keeping white sugar out of my diet.

This has been a long, cumulative process for me to get to this point of healthier eating.  For the most part, I have eliminated wheat and processed sugar from my diet.  My 30 days without garbage food left an indelible impression on me, namely, that I felt better overall and had tons more energy from eating the right things.  I started sleeping so much better also.  Sleeplessness seems to be a thing of the past now.

Some of my old snack staples are now snacks of the past -- Pringles, Butterfingers (and these are still in the house because hubby likes 'em!), pastries from Panera -- nada since early September.  The upside?  I have NO desire to eat any of my old snacks.

For the sake of the hubby, I have eaten some restaurant food items in the last month.  A chicken flatbread pizza at Buffalo Wild Wings, a coney dog with cheese covered french fries at Freddy's Steakburgers, a chicken wrap with fries at Red Robin..... honestly, the worst was the coney dog.  I felt horrible afterwards, SOOOOO bloated and yucky feeling.  I only ate half of the wrap at Red Robin, with some of the fries, not all of them, so I didn't feel so awful afterwards.

I'm good with occasional cheats.  And I do mean occasional.  I feel so much more alive and vibrant when I eat the right things, and that's worth a lot to me.

I'll admit I'm still not the best veggie eater, and I will always be a work-in-progress where vegetables are concerned.

Fresh salsa from our garden veggies

I use so many food items from our kitchen pantry now, more than ever, and I have new favorite kitchen tools. I bought this little mini spatula/spoonula set from Target last year, and now I use it AllTheTime!!  I wish I could provide you a link, but I can't find this little gem anywhere nowadays.  If I remember right, it was less than $10 for the set. I love the molded all-in-one-piece design (no food gunk gets into hidden places) which makes for easy clean-up.  I'm glad I bought a set for my son and daughter-in-law before they disappeared!

Can't live without.

My new favorite snacks are minimally processed nuts from area health food stores (Yum Nuts cashews is my #1 fav), Fage brand plain yogurt, an occasional Noosa honey flavor yogurt, and occasional Bare Fruits apple chips.  I eat way more fresh fruit these days -- apples, bananas, pears -- and I keep oranges and limes on hand to slice up for my water.

Speaking of water, I bought a Pur water pitcher from Amazon so my water is a bit cleaner than it might be if I were drinking it straight from the tap.  I have never been fond of water, but this experience has taught me the importance of drinking more water and keeping myself hydrated.

I try to go for a walk with Trixie and Ringo almost every morning.  They both look forward to our walks, esp Trixie.  Ringo has always gone outside with me to do farm chores.  He's the best off-leash dog in the world.  Trixie, not so much.  So these walks are pretty exciting for her, since she's typically accustomed to the large penned area we have for the dogs.

Sometimes I leave the dogs in the house and go for a run.  Trixie & Ringo are both around 10 years old, and Ringo's hips have started bothering him the last few years (I give him Cosequin DS everyday, which does help a lot). They both tend to slow me down when I run.

I still have more to do -- more exercise, a few more pounds to lose.  I've lost in the vicinity of 10-12 lbs but would like to lose at least 5 more pounds.  It's not imperative, just a minor goal at this point. The major goal was to FEEL better, and I've accomplished that.

Bottom line?

This is what's right for me, at this point in my life.  I'm not saying it's right for everyone out there.  In the first place, you need to reach that point in your life where you just can't stand the crappy way you feel most days.  You have to reach that point where you say "enough is enough".  That's when you'll find the motivation and chutzpah to make the necessary changes, no matter how drastic they may seem.

I'm getting older and quite frankly, I don't want to coast into old age on the couch.  I want to live life large and do as much as I can do before something happens to render me incapable. I'm 52 and soon to be 53.  This does not even seem possible, and yet the calendar says it is so, much to my chagrin.  My body also reminds me of this fact the last few years, with more aches and pains, and less endurance. I really hate that.

Would I recommend the Whole30 challenge to others?  You betcha!  Is it hard?  Only the first few days.  And they ARE hard.  There's no soft-pedaling that one.  But so worth it.

In fact, I'm sure I will do it again, as needed, to remind myself of what's best for my physical body.

So my final takeaway is that I've finally cleared most processed food out of my diet, and I've stuck to it this time, and I don't miss it one iota.  Not only do I have no desires to eat Taco Bell or McDonald's or Sonic, quite frankly, I don't want to put that kind of nasty food into my better-for-me "new" body.  My slimmer, new me along with more energy and endurance and overall positivity are not worth sacrificing for fast food or Pringles or Ho-Ho's!

Note:  If you're interested in trying the Whole30 challenge, read my prior blog posts regarding my experience.  There are many links to other websites, with several recipes, in those older posts. 

Why {Most} Roosters Are Mean

Ok, now that we've had a few roosters in our flock, I think I'm at least semi- qualified to explain this phenomenon, which gives roosters such a bad reputation.

I'm sure many of my readers can relate-- if not recently in their lives, then perhaps earlier in their childhood they can remember some rooster stories to make us all laugh. Of course, at the time, I'm sure it was no laughing matter!

Our buff orpington rooster, Foghorn, in his younger days.  RIP.

Roosters seem more than happy to perpetuate the myths of their terror-stalking ways.

One thing I've learned is that they ARE territorial.  And if you don't remind them who is the boss, they will happily take that role over for you and be the boss of everything around them, including YOU.

That was the mistake I made.  I let our roosters strike fear into me, and I avoided them.


Here's the best explanation I found on the internet and I hope it helps others realize the best way to make your rooster see things YOUR way.

Go ahead, click on over and read this. It's very interesting, full of good information, and it's a short read too.  What more could you want?

So what do you think after reading the above page?  Is this new information for you, or did you already know this? It makes good sense, doesn't it?

I already knew that it's a good thing to handle chicks (and guinea keets) as much as possible the first 2 weeks after hatching, if you want them to be tame. In our case, this is extremely difficult - we both work and we're gone enough that it's hard to be consistent in this endeavor.

Sally with her young chicks in May 2013 (2 months old)

In addition to our time crunch, our buff orpington Sally was diligent in watching over her chicks 6 months ago.  She made absolutely sure that we did NOT touch them in any way!

But I do believe even though we missed this crucial first step, we can still catch up for lost time by consistently reminding our rooster -- with a broom, a boot, or a spray of water from the hose -- that WE are the dominant alpha entities at this house!! The back porch is now off limits to him, and we boot him off every time we see him perched there.  (So far it seems to be working!)

Roo-boy, crowing his supremacy... um, no.
We'll be taking back our living area starting TODAY.

So I don't blame our rooster - he's just being a rooster, after all.  He wants to be King of the flock and everything else around him. It's in his DNA.  He can't help it.

We'll commute his death sentence for now, and give him another week or two of grace, and see if he accepts our alpha-ness. He's young; he still has the potential to learn a new game.

I hope he's smart and decides to play along, and play nice.  After all, he IS a pretty boy.  It's hard to see in the photos, but he's beginning to grow some green feathers in his tail -- gorgeous!

If he doesn't want to be nice, well, there's always chicken and noodles.  A 7-month old rooster would do nicely.

Making Homemade Mayonnaise ~ The Whole30 with Oz Girl

I'm halfway through my Whole30.... WOOHOO!!

I've done pretty good overall.  My toughest moment came last night when the hubby was drinking a few adult beverages, while I sipped my fruit-infused water.  ARGHHHHH!!!!  I wanted a glass of wine SO.BAD.

But I held out, hard as it was.  And I woke up happy this morning, that I didn't kill the last 2 weeks of progress.

Today I needed to make more mayonnaise, so that I could make some creamy Italian dressing for my salads.  I love homemade mayo -- so creamy and with a slight lemony taste!

{I'm not including a mayonnaise recipe here since there are SO many floating around out on the web. But I am including a link to the best mayonnaise recipe that I've found.}

While my Chocolate Chili simmered, I made my mayo. Let me just say this -- after making mayonnaise twice now, I'm thinking a food processor might be the better appliance to make mayonnaise.

The key to fluffy homemade mayo is 1) having your ingredients at ROOM TEMPERATURE and 2) streaming the extra light-tasting olive oil as thinly as you can.  And do be sure to use cheap, light tasting olive oil.  If you use extra virgin olive oil you will most likely be sorry - it will taste strongly of olives!!

It takes anywhere from 2 to 3 minutes to stream a cup of olive oil. While I'm streaming my extra light-tasting olive oil into the blender through the top removable cap, I get a lot of spatter even at the lowest "stir" speed.  So I try to barely crack the top cap open, letting the oil hit the edge of the rubber lid where it rolls down into the glass blender. And it would appear that others have the same spatter issue (read some of the comments on Melissa's mayo blog post).

This might give you an idea of the mess involved?!
Think OILY.

All that being said, the next time I make my mayo, I'm going to try using my immersion blender. It appears that it's way easier to make mayonnaise this way, unbeknownst to me.  So here's the link for you, my dear reader, that I just found. You will also get a very brief chemistry lesson if you click through to that link - very interesting to read!

Luckily, my second mayo creation turned out as well as the first time.  Fluffy, light and yummy, the way it's supposed to be.

It's really not this yellow in person.  Really, it's not.

What's really cool and neato is that the mayo recipe makes enough to fill a jam size canning jar, and then if I dig the rest of the mayo out of the very bottom of the blender, and up the sides of the blender, I get 1/4 cup more, which just happens to be the amount I need to make my creamy Italian dressing!

I know, pretty cool, huh?!

Creamy Italian Dressing (left) and fresh mayo (right)
I used red wine vinegar for my dressing - you could use balsamic or white wine too.

It's easy to make your own mayonnaise, really it is.  And so much healthier for you.  And just think of the modifications you might try.... I think I might add a little cumin to my next batch!  And I would also like to try a batch of aioli, which would be the mayo with garlic and basil added.

With my next mayo batch, I want to try this salad dressing recipe:  Southwestern Cumin Lime Dressing.  Doesn't that sound super delicious yummy?!

Only 15 more days to go with my Whole30!

And now, until the next blog post, I think I hear two puppies yapping my name.... they are so NEEDY.  :-)

Lucy and Molly, 6 months old now!

Day Four ~ The Whole 30 with Oz Girl

So I know everyone is wondering, have I given up on my Whole30 plan.........

The answer is NO.

It hasn't been easy, but in fact, I've been helpfully motivated by some lovely naysayers at work.  

Mind you, I didn't exactly tell anyone what I was doing. I just made an off-handed comment that I was trying to eat healthier, I had eliminated wheat and sugar from my diet for 30 days, and it's really hard to eat the right foods on a daily basis.  That's all I said.  And one co-worker said, quite snottily and with a hearty "I know everything" attitude, "You can't do it."  Another person said "you can't undo all the damage of eating wrong for years, you'll still have health issues".

Alrighty then. From this point forward, when I'm at work, I will adopt THIS attitude...

The less you reveal, the more people can wonder.

Yep, just light, airhead conversation with any of my oh-so-wise and knowledgeable co-workers from now on.

So with that out of the way, if you're wondering what I've been eating (and drinking) the last few days, here's an update.

I've had a bit of salad - baby spinach and a red/green romaine mix with Walden Farms Creamy Italian dressing.  Walden Farms' dressings were the closest to Whole30 compliant, as far as no soy, no grain/gluten, etc.  The label says "sugar-free" BUT at the end of the ingredients it lists sucralose. Ahem, someone needs to tell Walden Farms that IS sugar.  However, being it's at the end of the ingredient list, that means there's a minimal amount.  Bottom line - not thrilled with the taste, so I'm going to make my own mayo today and from there make some of the dressings in the "Well Fed" cookbook.

From Melissa Joulwan's "Well Fed" cookbook.  This stuff is awesome. You need to try it.  Really. Click the link, get the recipe. Here's a pic of mine, topped with some thinly sliced avocado.

I also made Caramelized Coconut Chips, again from the "Well Fed" cookbook.  Very easy, only 3 ingredients, and quite yummy as a snack.  You can get coconut flakes from Amazon (see links on recipe link page) or your local health food store likely has them.  That's where I got my bag.

Photo from Melissa Joulwan's blog, The Clothes Make The Girl

I've had fresh, pastured eggs for breakfast and some sausage patties, also from a pastured hog.  We bought half a hog back in March from the same farm where I get raw milk.  So we know what "our" hog ate. Heather at Faye Farms keeps her animals on as natural a diet as possible.

I've been eating fresh bananas, apples, strawberries and grapes. I also made some applesauce the other day, fresh homemade WITHOUT any sugar. Water, a bit of cinnamon, a pinch of nutmeg, and a smidge of vanilla. That's it, and it's freaking good.

I know I still need to amp up the vegetable end of the spectrum.  Veggies have always been tough for me to conquer, yet I know I need to make this conquest for the sake of my health.  I bought some kale the other day and plan to make some kale chips today or tomorrow.  Hey, it's a start.  :-)

What have I been drinking, you may wonder... especially since those who know me, know that I really don't like water.  (Luckily, I've never been a soda drinker so I don't have to deal with those cravings!) I usually flavor my water with Propel Kiwi Strawberry packets, and we just know those probably have a ton of sugar in them!

When I Google'd "ways to flavor water", I found this awesome link with so many great ideas. On Tuesday, I chopped up a cucumber and picked some mint leaves to make a very refreshing water beverage.  Today my water pitcher holds sliced oranges and lemons for a citrus-y twist.  Yum!

I started out drinking my coffee black on Monday.  It was tolerable.  But I really do love my half and half so I Google'd that also.... how to have creamer on a Paleo diet???  And I found this gem of a link, which uses coconut milk, coconut oil, and an egg.  IT WORKS.  I really like it.  It's not a so-so substitution, it's a delish substitute!  As you can see in my photo, it's rather frothy, but it's good!  And it will last in my fridge for a few days -- I simply popped it into the microwave for a few seconds to thin it a bit before adding to my coffee today.

I did notice some physical symptoms on Monday and Tuesday -- nagging headache, overall fatigue. I'm attributing this to my body wanting sugar and not getting what it wanted!  The book "It Starts With Food" tells you what to expect during each week of your Whole30; we are warned that days 1 to 7 will most likely not be pretty.  The most common withdrawal symptoms experienced by Whole30 participants are headache, lethargy and crankiness - commonly called the "carb flu".  Your body is adjusting to a new fuel source and we're advised to give it time to recalibrate.

I felt much better on Wednesday and feel pretty darned good today.  In fact, Ringo and I went for a 1 mile walk/run around the property this morning, using my new Walkmeter app on my iPhone (awesome app - check it out!)

Freshly cut pastures make a great walking/running course!

So that's a summary of my Whole30 life the last few days. This morning, I pinned a whole new slew of motivational quotes to my "Philosophies to Live By" Pinterest board.  I'm very motivated to stick with this!

I won't lie, it has NOT been easy.  It is a huge challenge.  On both Monday and Tuesday I felt like I was going to start hyperventilating as I walked around the kitchen, opened the fridge, opened cupboards..... what CAN I eat??!!  I didn't plan my start date as well as I should!  My Tuesday trip north to Wichita to Green Acres market fixed that, so I'm doing much better now.

Anyone else out there trying to do the Whole30, or something similar?  I would love to hear about your challenges, and any tips and tricks you might have discovered to help you stick with it.

Footnote:  I marked my end date in red on the calendar - October 9th will be the 31st day. My first big indulgence will be a glass of milk.  :-)

Day One ~ The Whole30 with Oz Girl

So my first day has been uneventful thus far. I will admit that I let some of my dietary favorites go days ago, so that today didn't feel like a very depriving day.

My last glass of milk was Friday evening. The milk was now gone, no need to buy more with my Whole30 looming.

I continued to put half-n-half into my coffee right up through Sunday morning. I do so love my creamy coffee. And yet today's cuppa of black joe wasn't the end of the world, or even awful. It was just different.

And sometimes we're so unaccustomed to different
that we don't want to accept it. 

I'm willing to accept different for 30 days, and see where I'm at when the end of that 30 days rolls around.

Tom-boy and I went shopping this morning for a few grocery items.  He needed lunch items - I needed paleo Whole30 items. Of course I didn't find everything I needed at our local Walmart or Dillon's.  I plan to go to a few health food stores in Wichita later this week to source some other items, e.g., pastured meat.

Some items can be found online, such as the unsweetened shredded coconut and coconut aminos that I needed. Every bag of shredded coconut in the store was sweetened - for shame!

For lunch today I made Tessemae's Buffalo Chicken Meatballs.  Pretty yummy stuff!  I found ground chicken marked down in price as the expiration date was 4 days away, so I bought two rolls - one to use now, the other to freeze. I wasn't happy with the brand (Tyson) since they are a mega-industrial supplier. I'll look for a better local supply at one of the Wichita health food stores later.

I also used Frank's RedHot Sauce because it's what I had on hand and I didn't see any major offenders on the ingredient label. However, I would like to try the Tessemae's brand of dressings at some point in the future and will look for that brand in Wichita.

I ate an apple while I packed Tom-boy's lunch for work.  I won't lie - it's very difficult to put Ruffles into a baggie for him and not eat even one, especially when one is very hungry (hence the apple!)  But I succeeded, and I pat myself on the back for that.

While I'm on that subject, let me just say having another person in the house who is NOT doing the Whole30 adds another layer of difficulty for me.  There are items in the house that I will need to exercise the very upper limits of self-control NOT to eat.  For example, there is a candy dish with bite-size Butterfingers, Almond Joy, Nestle Crunch, etc.

Butterfingers are my #1 fav but they will not win.

I can't just cleanse the house of "bad" foods but instead I must be ever-vigilant not to let sugar or grain ruin what I'm trying to accomplish here!

I know this first week will be the hardest. My body is going to rebel when it's not getting its sugar or grain fix, and so I may not be the happiest camper right now but I know the pay-off will come if I just give it time.  It's not much different than a drug addict trying to quit his drugs, or a smoker trying to quit cigarettes -- I'm giving up things my body is most likely addicted to, so this WILL be tough.

I am determined to succeed,
to stick with this for the duration.

~ don't forget to visit my "Whole30 With Oz Girl" page on Facebook ~


If any of you have tried the Whole30 before, or if anyone is doing this right now, please let me know.  I would love to know your strategy and how you're succeeding!

The Whole30 with Oz Girl


I have made the decision to kickstart my new, healthier eating habits by doing the Whole30 plan starting...
Monday, September 9th.

Since a few others have also expressed interest in this, I think it would be super duper if we could all motivate and encourage each other to stick with the Whole30.... for the whole 30 days, of course.

The most important thing for you to know is that this is FREE.  It doesn't cost anything but your time to read what the Whole30 is, and then make the commitment to do it.

Sooooo, I've created a Facebook support page ~ {go there now and like it!}

... we can share ideas, share recipes and photos, share what we're doing that day, resourceful web links, or just simply encourage each other not to give up.

This is so worth it.  Like the Whole9 website says -
"It’s only thirty days, and it’s for the most important health cause on earth – the only physical body you will ever have in this lifetime."
But do remember, this is really more than just 30 days.  After the 30 days are up, we can share what we've accomplished, and then continue to help each other stay healthy by eating healthy.  It's far too easy to slip back into old habits, and after making such a monstrous effort to change those habits, we don't want to even think about eating doughnuts or pizza or, or, or... ice cream again!  Ok, maybe once in a blue moon a little bit of ice cream wouldn't hurt.
The good news is that once you've abstained from the wheat- and sugar-containing foods, your desire for them diminishes immensely.
If you'd like to join our group, please leave us a comment here - let us all know what you hope to accomplish. Then head on over to our group Facebook page and join up with the community, not just to motivate and encourage yourself and everyone else, but to feel like you're part of something bigger.

I think we will enjoy this journey all the more since we won't be doing it alone!

The Basics
The Whole30 Program
The basics of the program - what you need to know. There are also links on this web page for a shopping list and a meal planning template.
The Whole 30 Paleo Poor Guide to the Grocery Store
Print the in-season vegetable/fruit guide here.
The Whole30 Daily
For $14.95, you'll get a new email, to encourage you to stay on-track.
The Whole30 Testimonials
Need a really strong reason to give up your favorite foods for 30 days?  Then read some of these...

Book Resources
There are tons of paleo and primal books out there.  These are 4 of my favorites. Find these information-packed and motivational books on Amazon, or at your local library.
It Starts With Food
Well Fed
The Paleo Solution
Against All Grain

My Favorite Paleo Websites  See her Whole30 Rundown for more recipes.
Mark's Daily Apple  I signed up for his weekly email -- once a week, that's all. Plus your free bonuses.
The Clothes Make the Girl That's her cookbook, Well Fed, listed above.

Extra-Special Recipe Link
Tessemae's Buffalo Chicken Meatballs
This recipe is definitely in my Whole30 plan - sounds delish and I can't wait to try it out.  The ingredients on Frank's Red Hot Sauce look perfectly acceptable for paleo, so I won't need to buy the expensive Tessemae's wing sauce - however, I may try one or two of their salad dressings.

So what are you waiting for?!  Join me!

Disclaimer: Most of the web links within this blog post do not provide any financial gain for me - these are simply my favorite resources and I'm sharing them with you.  Only the 4 Amazon books listed may provide a small commission for me if you decide to buy them through my links.

Blog Renovation ~ Currently In Progress

Just a brief post to say, if you are visiting today, Saturday, August 30th, 2013.... and this blog looks to be a mess, and I mean more of a mess than its normal visual clutter, keep calm and come back in a few days to visit again.

I hope to have a much cleaner, more visually appealing blog for my readers then!

9/1/13 UPDATE
Ok, so I've got a new banner now (woohoo!), a new layout and a new domain that better reflects who I am, who we are. The cartoon Oz Girl banner is gone and the only vestige of Oz Girl is the profile icon to the right. I mean, I'm still Oz Girl, right?! So I have to keep something. Over the next week or so, I plan to add more pages and I've got some great post ideas also. I'm returning to the blog world with gusto!  :-)

A Wee Bit o' Garden Bounty

Cucumbers, Garden Salsa peppers, and Mexican Gherkins
... oh, and two jalapeno peppers!

I've already made some refrigerator dill pickles, and I'll be making some salsa in the next few days.  I've never made my own salsa before, so I'll let you know how it turns out and what recipe I end up using!

Mexican Gherkins aka "Watermelon Cucumber"

Other nicknames: mouse melon, cucamelon, sandita, Mexican sour cucumber, Mexican sour gherkin, Mexican miniature watermelon.

~ in my garden ~

And trust me, these really ARE miniature!  They are about 1" to 2" when ripe, about the size of grapes. Small perhaps, but utterly adorable.  Delicious to eat right off the vine.  The taste is commonly described as cucumber with a citrus finish.  These are perfect as salad toppers, and can also be pickled.

~ in my hand ~

A friend at work gave me 3 starter plants.  With all the rain we've had this year, those 3 little plants took off like crazy.  I wish I would have given them a taller support to climb - as it is, I only put a foot high border fence in the garden for them to wrap their little tendrils around, so now they are spreading out in all directions, intermingling with the other cucumber plants and pumpkins.

~ our jungle garden ~

I highly recommend planting some of these in your garden next year, if only for the cute factor!

Where to buy:
Rare Seeds
Territorial Seed
Seed Savers Exchange

Additional photos of Mexican Gherkins:
Dave's Garden
Garden Betty (I really like her blog too!)
Gradually Greener
Sutton's Seeds (check out picture #2- shows how trendy these little guys are!)

A New {Healthier} Food Journey

Another summer is almost over.  A very rainy summer indeed!  So hard to imagine, when our last 2 summers have been intensely dry and drought-laden. Now the pond is overfilled, and our pastures are bright green.  In August.  Yes, hard to believe!

While the rains have been falling and keeping our land lush this summer, I've embarked on a new food journey, a more healthy food adventure.

There are several notable moments that have sent me down this road. Remarkably, none of those moments included any health catastrophes for me, personally.  I think it's more of an awareness of my age and as I look around me, I see others in my age bracket who have health issues or scares, and that has motivated me to be more proactive.

There's a few books that have contributed to my newfound knowledge.  Among them, Anticancer: A New Way of Life and Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health.

These two books have what I call "aha" information. They were definitely "aha" moments for me as I read them, but above all else, they made sense. Common sense and logic tells us that vegetables, fruits, and wholesome meats are the natural way for us to eat.  And so I'm striving to eat more nutritious foods so that I will feel better, more energetic and alive, every single day.

There's also an excellent video on YouTube about fructose - Sugar, The Bitter Truth.  It's 90 minutes long, and it took me a few weeks to carve out time to watch it. I can't say enough how well worth your time it is to watch this video. Schedule a time when you can - I don't think you'll regret it.

I've always known that I feel better when I eat the right foods, and exercise too. But like most people, I fall prey to the ever present media frenzy -- the commercials that glamorize the pretzel dog (Sonic), the newest yum foods at the supermarket, etc.

It's hard for us to keep away from those foods.  There's a feel-good factor, a comfort associated with those foods.

We're creatures of habit. We eat the things we grew up with, and we also eat the things that are quick and easy due to our busy lives. So it's often difficult to eat the right things, because they taste different and because they are often more time consuming to fix.

I'm not going to sit here and say that everything I have read, or everything I am doing, is 100% the right way.  I'm not perfect and neither is anyone else who has written a book or blog about nutritious foods.

But we're trying, there's a lot of good dialog out there, and surely we are doing better than we have over the past 25 or 50 years, right?!  In eliminating the pre-packaged foods, the fast foods,  the wheat and the fructose, aren't we headed in the right direction in taking better care of our bodies?

To pique your interest, I want to include a link to an amazing grain-free recipe, over-the-top delicious carrot cupcakes.  Trust me here -- you simply MUST try this recipe.  I've already received unanimous approval from 2 of the grandkids (and this before they were frosted!) and hands-down "delicioso" from co-workers.  You can find most of the ingredients at any healthy food store in your area -- almond flour, coconut flour, coconut oil, etc.

Perhaps a bit rough looking - but awesomely yummy!

While you're checking out the recipe, also browse the Nourished Kitchen website and Carrie Vitt's website, Deliciously Organic.  Two good places to start when you want to find nutritious recipes for your new healthy lifestyle.

I'll keep today's post short, but I look forward to discussing this topic more in the months to come, and I hope it opens my reader's minds to consider changing up the way they nourish their bodies also.

P.S.  The puppies are growing like weeds.  Updated pictures, and possibly some video, to come soon!

Australian Shepherd Puppy Plays in Water Bowl

Just a quick update on Molly and Lucy, our new mini Australian Shepherd puppies....

Molly discovers the joy of water!  Check out this short video of her digging in the water bowl.

We think Molly is going to be a water girl... what do you think?!

Meet Molly & Lucy ~ Mini Australian Shepherds

Molly (left), and Lucy (right)

Welcome Molly and Lucy, mini australian shepherds, to our Kansas homestead!

These two are sisters, born March 2nd, and are red merles.  Molly is the bigger of the two, and I've already nicknamed her Molly the Monster, because she definitely has the upper hand over her sister, Lucy!  Being that they are mini aussies, they will only weigh in the 20 to 30 lb range.

Molly strikes a typical Aussie pose

We have big plans for these girls in the future... perhaps some agility training and competition, or frisbee training.  We'll see which they prefer.  :-)

For now, basic puppy training will get them headed in the right direction.  We have fresh, new blank palettes to work with, and we want these girls to be polite and well-mannered from the get-go. 

Lucy chews on the tug-rope

There's a whole photo album posted on Facebook, so friend me if you want more puppy love.  I'll try to be a better blogger and post frequent updates here for everyone.

The next few months will be lots and lots of fun with these two very smart and intelligent girls!

Sally, Our Buff Orpington Hen, Has Chicks

A week ago Sunday, this is what we found in Sally's nesting box... two baby chicks!

Sally had been sitting on a clutch of eggs since late February.  Needless to say, by the time April 7th rolled around, we were ready to get rid of her eggs.  Chicks only take 21 days to hatch.

And then, amazingly, two eggs hatched out these little barred rock chicks!

Looking back, I think what happened was this....  several times, when Sally hopped out of her box to get a bite to eat and a quick drink, one of the barred rock hens would get into her box.  So Sally would just hop into a different box and sit.  Hours later I would find her in the wrong box, with the clutch of eggs cold.

So even though many of the eggs didn't hatch, I believe our barred rock girls laid a few late eggs that finally got a consistent "sit" from Sally and hatched out these little sweeties!

Sally is happy.  She has always wanted to be a mom.  :-)

Now only time will tell if we have hens, or roosters!!  Hopefully, these two little cutie pies are hens.

Don't you just love it when little chickies poke their heads out from mom's feathers?!
Update 6/2013:  The little chickie on the right in the top photo is a rooster, and the other chickie with the red head is a hen.  Really?!  Couldn't they both have been hens?  :-)

First Snow

I know, hard to believe, huh?  February and we're just getting our first snow??

But it really is our first snow!  The precipitation will be good, we need it SO bad.

In honor of this special day, here are a few unretouched, straight out of the camera shots...

As the huge flakes of snow began to fall, it was a very unusual snowfall in that it was falling straight down.  There was no wind whatsoever.  That, my friends, is very unusual here on the Kansas prairie!  The rain and the snow are usually hitting the ground sideways!

It's been falling straight down all afternoon.  No wind.  So odd to stand outside and hear the silence.

Yes, there's a bit of blue cast to this last photo, and I'm not fixing it.  At least not right now - maybe later.  You can check my photo blog later to see if I play with it.  You can see how much more snow we're getting now.

By tomorrow I imagine it will all be gone since it's forecast to be in the 50s. It's a very, very heavy and wet snow.

The chickens and guineas are nowhere to be seen outside.  I guess they've decided that the coop is the place to be today.

Time for me to bundle up and head outside to give the horses some dinner!

Our Canada Geese Return!

What a surprise, when I heard honking overhead this morning - especially since I had been wondering lately if we might be lucky enough to play host to our pair of Canada geese again this year.

Hubby was outside feeding the horses and when he returned to the house, he confirmed that two Canada geese had landed near our pond.

Could it be?  Were these OUR Canada geese, the very same pair that had built a nest and spent significant time on our property last year?

We had been wondering lately .... would they return?

About an hour had passed and again, I heard honking overhead, so I went to the front of the house, and lo and behold, they had moved from the pond to our front pasture, west of our chicken coop.

This was almost a sure sign that this pair was indeed "our" geese, since we had often fed them with chicken scratch at this very location west of our house last year.

We currently don't have any scratch feed, but we do have bird seed, so hubby took a scoop and scattered it for the two geese.  They were hesitant to come too close to him, but once he left, they commenced pecking at the bird seed.

The guineas have been having absolute fits all day.  They are not happy to see these big birds re-invade their turf.  Several of the guineas have been fluffing up their wings and charging the geese.  Last year, the geese put our guineas in their place right quick, pulling out quite a few feathers in the process.  This year, the two geese (so far!) have been pretty complacent, just watching the guineas and their defensive antics.  It is almost as if the geese are yawning and saying "really? is that all you got?"

It will be fun and exciting to see what our pair of geese do this year -- how long will they stay?  will they build a nest by the pond again?  will the eggs outlast our resident coyote population this time?

Only time will tell.

They've been hanging out near the chicken coop in our south and west pastures today. It looks like they might stay awhile.

Prairie Love

Storm cloud over pond
Nikon D60 ~ Topaz Simplify effects

I haven't been very photographic for the past year or so.

It's not that I don't WANT to play with my camera it's just that I never seem to have time anymore.

Well, things are going to change this year.

I'm going to MAKE the time.  I enjoy it so much, and I sure do miss it.

So there's going to be lots more photos on both blogs, and there's going to be a lot more playing around with Photoshop Elements and Topaz software.

I'm just warning you.  Watch out.

2013 ~ New Year, New Ideas

So I've been thinking about what I hope to accomplish in this next year, and decided that a blog post summary might help keep me true to myself... instead of having this jumbled up mess of ideas in my disorganized brain.

All that being said, here's my list of ideas, wishes, hopes and dreams.  If I'm feeling generous with myself, I'll revisit this list at the end of the year and see what I've accomplished!

Side note: Many thanks to my fellow blogger and friend, Misty, for this idea.  I'm not as aggressive and motivated as her however, so I'll try to keep my list short.  I've also broken down my list into sub-categories, which will be easier for me to track and then hopefully attain my goals!

On a Personal Note

  1. Continue my weight loss journey. I'm down 10 lbs since October, and I'm gearing up to lose another 10 lbs. in the next 2 months.  Goal:  a svelte, new me + oodles of energy.
  2. Also continue my debt reduction journey.  This one's harder, but I HAVE made progress since I began this trip in early 2011.  I remind myself daily that I want the peace of mind this completed journey will bring me.
  3. Return to my photo-snapping self.  This entails learning more about my camera, utilizing what I learn, and doing more with the resulting photos -- for example, sending some of my top photos to Kansas magazine.
  4. Blog redesign.  This one is essential for many reasons.

Travel Goals

  1. 5 year anniversary trip to Hawaii in March.  When we married in 2008, we said we would take this trip.  We've never vacationed together so this will be an epic event for both of us!
  2. At least 2 trips to Ohio to see my granddaughter, Leah, and my son and daughter-in-law.
  3. A trip to California (San Francisco and north CA) to see my sister, brother and mother.
  4. Reaching out there on this one..... a return trip to Yellowstone. I haven't been there in over 10 years.  Yellowstone touched me deeply and I visited 3 or 4 times in my younger days.  I would love to visit again with my husband.  Sending a shout-out and thanks to Misty for reminding me of my love for Yellowstone!
House/Property Renovation Goals
  1. Finish trim work in kitchen, and begin living room renovation.  That's all I'm going to hope to accomplish over the next year, because it takes us a L.O.N.G. time to get these things done, since we both work mucho days at our jobs.
  2. Purchase panels for round pen, so we can work with our horses more.  Getting Paintboy more refined and back under saddle and also getting ME back in that saddle would be the best ever.  I would love to go on a trail ride with my hubby someday!!
Long Range Dreams
(which could change with a slight breeze... these are truly DREAMS)
  1. Australian Shepherd Rescue, dedicated to Tori Mae's memory.  This one would require LOTS of thought, research and discussion.  But we have the room (27 acres) to do something like this, and we both think it would be really, really, REALLY cool.
  2. Add a full bathroom onto our house, with a real, genuine bathtub.  Oh, how I miss my bath! (We only have a shower.)
  3. While we're adding that bathroom, let's go ahead and add a wrap-around porch, and a limestone patio on the east side -- a divine spot to sit with a cup of joe and watch the glorious Kansas sunrise.
How about you?  
Is there anything you're thinking of changing up in 2013?