I decided to get rid of some old photo frames that were perfectly fine but the frames were tired-looking, and we were all tired of looking at them! One of these frames had these two wonderful photos of Dylan and Carys, 34 years apart, at bathtime. Since the pics aren't on display anymore in our home, I decided to digi-scrap them for fun:

Digital scrapbooking layout credits forthcoming


New Rooms Added!

So this family blog is kind of like our family's home, kind of haphazard but filled with good intentions! In order to offer everyone more to chew on, we've added some new PAGES, or as I like to think of them, ROOMS, to the blog for you to enjoy! Click on the links on the menu on the right sidebar to visit them.

is simply a compilation of various recipes that have appeared in previous blog posts, in case you actually wanted to try one and forgot when you had seen it!

Stuff We Like is just exactly that--stuff we like! Or more specifically, our retail loves, because after all, we do live in a Material World.

Man Cave is Dylan's page. It's currently blank. Draw from that what you will.

And last, but not least, there is the Kidlets page! It will have content written by the girls themselves or whatever else they pester me to post.

I'm not promising that we'll be updating these new "Rooms" frequently, but we'll give it a try! Thalia took a web design class over the summer, so who knows, she may even take over the Kidlets page. Stay tuned.


Did You Take Your Vitamins?

Dylan and I are halfway into week 2 of our Clean eating program, and it has more or less become a routine now. I felt hungry constantly for the first 3 days, but now have a hard time finishing my lunch some days. It's a testament to how quickly my stomach "shrunk" or got used to the new eating plan. Dylan, on the other hand, still feels hungry all the time! But he's committed to the program and working through caffeine withdrawal and hunger pangs with good humor.

We've even eaten out with our new plan! That was a challenge. We had plans to go to Rainforest Cafe last weekend with friends, and I almost wanted to cancel last minute, but after carefully perusing the online menu decided we could make it work. And we did! Roast chicken, skin off, and grilled veggies for me and a Salad with grilled chicken for Dylan. (Dylan did cheat by eating the focaccia bread that came with his meal.) Our friends teased us about our ascetic eating while drinking fruity alcohol concoctions and eating everything we couldn't, but resisting temptation is good for us! The next day, we were feeling pretty confident about our eating out skills and went to brunch at a Mexican restaurant with a visiting friend. Chicken salad for me and grilled salmon for Dylan. We made up for our 'wild weekend' by having just smoothies for the rest of Sunday.

After my previous blog post, we added vitamins and nutritional supplements to the mix. There are quite a few pills to take each day! This is a big deal for me because I HATE taking pills of any kind. They make me want to gag. But take them I do, because it's an integral part of the plan. Dylan has no problems with pills of any kind, and can swallow a handful at a time. Ugh.

So in addition to the 2 raw, mostly liquid meals and the 1 cooked meal per day, we're taking, in no particular order:

Rice Protein Powder
Superfood/Greens Powder with Probiotics
Milk Thistle Extract (3X day)
Oil of Oregano
Garlic (2X day)
Calcium (2X day)

The worst one of them is the Greens Powder, which I elected to take instead of the Probiotic pills--big mistake. The powder has a fishy, seaweed kind of taste that can't be totally masked by the addition of fruit, sweetener, cacao powder and cinnamon. Had we not already opened this jumbo container of the powder, I would have gone for the more expensive Probiotic pills

Oil of Oregano pills have a lovely aftertaste but for me, have an unpleasant side effect later. It feels like heartburn. Garlic pills, on the other hand, have a very strong, unpleasant aftertaste! Of course, the other option, chewing and swallowing a couple cloves of garlic, is also not in the cards.

Are we seeing some benefits of this new diet? YES! I was able to put on a pair of favorite old jeans that have been a bit snug of late, only 7 days into the diet. Dylan did the same with some clothes in his closet. So we're both a bit leaner.


Of Cakes and Kale: Dieting for the Almost-40 Set

Ah, I'm back from my "summer vacation" away from blogging! So what if my vacation went almost two months past the end of summer break itself?! At first, I told myself that I should take a break from the blogs (like I really did any serious blogging anyway!) and then I just didn't feel like coming back. But here we are again and with a recipe to share to boot.

First and foremost in our happy little household is the new DIET that Dylan and I started on Friday. Starting at the beginning of a long weekend seemed less daunting than starting on manic Monday, so we officially started on Friday afternoon. We are doing CLEAN by Dr. Junger, which is not so much a diet as it is a lifestyle change. I first found out about it during the summer, from Gwneth Paltrow's website of all places. (Actually, I ended up at her website after first reading an article about various celebrity diets in a fashion magazine.) So I bought the book and really loved the whole philosophy behind the program. But I am very good at starting stuff that never gets finished, so I knew my own weaknesses before I even read the whole book, and I vowed to get over them so I could go on the Clean program.

My reasons for wanting to do any kind of diet: 1) Lose this middle-aged spread that has been creeping up on me, a few pounds a year over the last six years post-partum; 2) Feel less tired; 3) Eat healthier overall because I'm not 19 anymore! Dylan was willing to try it out with me after I excitedly told him all about the program and read him excerpts from the book on a road trip to Houston. Don't I have a great hubby?!

To prepare for the 21-day diet, I had to get off caffeine, get it out of my system and not crave it day and night like I usually do. Specifically, my love affair with Coca-Cola. I've had as many as 3 Cokes a day in my pre-diet days. I love it so. I weaned myself off my favorite elixir by switching to weak homemade iced tea, brewed from organic loose earl gray tea leaves, flavored with mango juice. After about two weeks or so of iced tea, I was off caffeine completely. Not that I didn't have some serious cravings or headaches, but I survived. I also enjoyed seltzer water with a splash of raspberry lemonade as well as the yummy Izze natural sodas, post-caffeine.

Second thing I did to prepare, and which is in the book, was to start eating some of the foods that are allowed on the program and to start eliminating those that aren't from my diet. This was actually harder to do than ditch the caffeine. Bread, dairy, sugar, alcohol and all the other obvious foods to avoid. My kids aren't on the diet, so I had little incentive during this phase to cook two sets of meals. I went out of town three weekends in a row, making it hard to eat healthy and purposefully. And then I started having second thoughts about doing the Clean program at all.

But sometimes you just have to jump in and grab hold with both hands! So I made the snap decision on Thursday that Friday would be Day 1 of the diet. I bought about half of the different foods we would need (there is no eating out on this diet) to get started and researched some necessary supplements at the Vitamin Shoppe. And we were off! I didn't even tell Dylan the diet was on until Friday afternoon!

I have to say, I thought it was going to be much harder to begin Clean than it was. This past weekend was a primer in avoiding temptation! Day 1 began with me doing two custom cake orders. Staring at cake and frosting for seven hours. Then there was a kiddie birthday party on Day 2, where the hostess offered all the Moms and Dads wine and beer and lovely little croissant sandwiches were served. I drank bottled water and ate nothing. Day 3 was partially spent trying to figure out how to leave the house for an outing or errands without missing lunch, which is the primary meal of the day and must be home-cooked only with the assigned ingredients. (We figured it out.) At the end of the day, Dylan and I were are both a few pounds lighter and very proud of ourselves!

There are lots of recipes available for Clean dieters, and many of them use ingredients that weren't in my pantry or fridge before, so eating has actually been really interesting and adventurous! Agave syrup, cacao powder, kale, chia, tamari. Just a few new staples at our house. The recipes themselves are really delicious too, although Dylan pointed out that a dish's yum factor has a direct correlation to how hungry you are! (You can get kind of hungry on this diet.) Of the seven new recipes we tried this weekend, all were keepers except for one: Mango & Kale Smoothie. Yes, dark green, leafy vegetable mixed with mango. While I didn't hate it, it wasn't exactly the best thing I've ever had, and Dylan disliked it more than I did. But we did love kale steamed with garlic!

We'll be blogging more about our diet as the weeks go on, and tomorrow we're introducing the supplements (probiotics, fiber, antimicrobial herbs, etc.) I have no idea how we'll feel after adding the vitamins. Stay tuned.

Ironically, in the midst of buying all this exotic healthy food on Thursday, I concocted a great new cake recipe! I have been testing new cake recipes lately, and this one was the best. It combines a couple of favorite recipes together, which I also did on the other ones, but the others were merely so-so or just not good. I used this recipe for one of my weekend cake orders for a toddler's birthday.

So since I can't eat cake right now, here is a recipe to share with everyone else who can:

My New Strawberry Cake

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup non-fat dry milk
1 1/2 cup mashed strawberries, with their juice
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup milk
3 tsp. vanilla extract
4 eggs

**Optional-- 1 tbsp. strawberry gelatin mix (If you want your cake to be a pretty pink color. This will add a little more strawberry flavor to the cake too. I really hate using food coloring if I can just use Jello!)

**Note-- I use powdered dry milk and regular milk, but you could also just use water in place of the regular milk. Milk is just a bit richer.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour cake pan(s); can use two 8-inch or 9-inch round pans or a sheet cake pan.
2. Sift all dry ingredients together. Add remaining ingredients and mix on low speed for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
3. Mix at medium speed for 2 minutes longer.
4. Pour batter into prepared pan(s) and bake until cakes spring back when lightly touched (sorry, have no idea how long I baked it!). Cool cake pans on wire cooling rack before inverting cakes onto another rack for further cooling.
5. Frost layers with buttercream frosting or any other frosting that you like.

Serves about 18.

Image from www.cleanprogram.com