Expecting the Unexpected

When I started this blog, in my mind it was going to be a wonderful thing where I would always be updating about how much weight I had lost and how much money I had saved while doing it.  Reality check: I gained a pound this week and I realized that my formula which calculates my debt on a spreadsheet was missing a cell and that I’m about $3,000 more in debt that I originally thought.  Shit.  Yup.

Thank goodness there’s always the fall back on God.  He doesn’t get fat or go in debt!  Plus, it’s easier to read the bible than exercise or not spend money.

Continuing the study in Matthew – a look at verses 1-13 of chapter 2.

The chapter opens up with some funny eastern astrologers asking around for directions.  This leads to me to the first observation.

God had to be chuckling to himself when he gave the heads up to non-Jewish “magi” that the Jewish messiah had arrived.  The thing is, God is not afraid to step outside of our preconceived ideas of how things should go.  He is really BIG – he doesn’t fit in our boxes, our churches or our approved social circles.  He’s everywhere and he can speak through anything.  The trick is to always stay on alert, you never know when he will sneak up behind you and whisper in your ear.

So these magi or wise men or astrologers or whatever you want to call them end up at the Jewish capital, the most logical place where a messiah/king might show up.  Big surprise – he’s not there.

I don’t want to step on any toes here, but it is my honest belief that government reform is not and should never be the end game of Christianity.  Nowhere in the Bible does Jesus tell his followers to start getting involved with politics so that they can make some real changes.  He also doesn’t tell them start political action committees or begin rallies so that the government will start forcing everyone to behave like Christians.  Real change doesn’t happen when laws are passed, it happens when hearts are invaded and people choose to live differently because they’ve experience real love.  Jesus wasn’t born into the political spotlight, he never ruled a country or even a town and he didn’t change any laws – but he turned this world upside down.

Just to clarify, I’m not saying we shouldn’t vote or that God can’t use politicians to do good things.  After all I just said he wasn’t small and that he can do and will do whatever the hell he wants.  William Wilberforce is a great example of a Christian who worked his way up the political ladder and helped to end slavery because that’s what he thought God was calling him to do.  That’s freaking awesome!

Back to the story: The Jewish religious leaders gave the easterners directions and sent them on their way.  Wait, what?  The Jewish leaders told them where they should go to find the messiah but didn’t think to go check it out too?  Huh.

The problem with thinking we’re really smart is that it makes us really dumb.  The Jewish religious leaders had all the answers.  When called on to give directions they knew right away what the answer was.  But, in their arrogance they missed the answer to the greatest question – when is the messiah coming?

When we don’t know the answers and we’re constantly going to God and asking him, we get to know him better in the process and our understanding deepens.  But, if we know the answers already then why would we need to talk to or believe in God at all?  There is more to this life than any of us know – at least that’s what I believe.  I am very aware of how little I understand about it, but it’s nice not knowing everything.  It means that each day can be an adventure – a learning experience.  So long as we don’t blind ourselves with our own arrogance, then the wonders of God and this world will never cease to surprise us.

The good news is that these foreigners finally found who they were looking for.  They give him gifts and worship him.  I like trying to imagine this.  Here are grown-ass men bowing down to a baby.  Have you even hung out with a baby?  They’re dumb, they don’t even know how to talk.  And it’s not like they could really give Jesus gifts, they had to give them to his parents because babies don’t even have the dexterity to hold stuff.

Being a follower of Christ can be a fairly uncomfortable experience.  It’s not easy trying to explain to someone that you have an invisible friend who you base your life’s decisions on.  But, Jesus never said we would be comfortable, in fact he promised it would be really hard.  I guess it’s just all just part of the adventure!  Not to mention that we live in Disney World here in the US.  Our brothers and sisters who live in the real world know what it really means to be uncomfortable for Christ.

Ok, enough holy talk.  Next post: Curry Chicken!

Budgeting and Basketball

I hate budgeting.

This past weekend was crazy busy.  We, (my brother, sister-in-law and I) had a friend come in town for the weekend.  I don’t know what you’re like, but I love showing off my city and by showing off I mean going out to eat at my favorite restaurants.  In two days, I managed to hit up six restaurants.

Now if you’re detail-oriented you may have noticed the $52.00 meal from Josephs.  Here’s another problem I run into when friends visit: I think I’m supa rich!

The problem is, I’m not super rich.  In fact, I have set a budget of $100 a week for myself.  That includes gas, food, fun and misc.  So, when my brain decided to quit working this weekend, I spent a total of $154.12!  Ack!  And, $50 was put on the credit card.

Here is another problem I’m currently dealing with.  My cat Cotton is a ninja.  He sneaks out the door when I least expect it.  When he comes back he brings fleas, (despite his monthly advantage treatments.)  I’m happy to say that the house if finally flea-free again, but it turns out, when there are fleas there are tapeworms.  I think I just threw-up. Get used to it, this is my life.  I went and got worm medicine today and it was another $43 on the credit card.  Whoo …

But, there is good news in all of this.  I won the office bracket pool at work!  You are so smart!  I know!  I got $45 out of the deal.  After the obligatory office cake purchase I’ll have some extra $ to put towards the credit cards.

The lesson that I learned here is that eating out is wonderful, but only in the small doses that your budget allows.  For the rest of the month I’m going to avoid eating out, (except where absolutely necessary – I have girls night coming up!)  If I play my cards right I’ll have some money left over at the end of the month to put towards the credit card and hopefully pay off this weekend’s spending spree.

Mom – if you’re reading this and are worried about me – don’t!  I have a full tank of gas and plenty of food/leftovers to get me through the week.

Thanks for reading guys!  Next week, (when I have money again): Curry Chicken

The promised taco

Let’s start with some good-ish news.  I lost another pound this week.

I’ll admit, I was hoping for more weight lost than that, I mean I have worked-out every day this week.  But, I also had a few beers and I’ve had a PB&J for lunch every day.   I know PB&J’s are filled with calories but they’re so good and convenient and cheap!

Enough weight talk – let’s talk food!

I love Mexican food, I could eat it for three times a day every day and be so very happy.  My friend Karley gave me this awesome taco recipe that’s super cheap and easy too!

Ingredients:

Please notice that everything on the photo is under $2.00.  I spent a total of $7.03 on this meal.  Also, aren’t you impressed by how long that cilantro has lasted?  I know I am.

Right, so start by chopping veggies and heating the can o’ beans.  While chopping I decided I only needed half the onion and half the green pepper.

Then saute onion and peppers and add the taco seasoning, (I only used half the packet because I was only using half the veggies.)  Here’s where I ran into my first problem.  It was all dry…

Then I remembered seeing my mom add water to taco meat when she seasoned it, so I figured the same principle would work here.  And it did and it was magic.

Then I realized that the heat was on too high because everything started sticking to the pan.  So, I panicked and just turned the heat off.  Next I mixed in the green sauces with the now heated beans.

All that’s left now is to heat up the tortilla.  Karley suggested dabbing them with water so that they would be steamed and wouldn’t tear.  The problem is though, (probably because I bought cheap tortillas,) when I pulled one out of the package it tore because it was sticking to the other tortillas.  There were still some layers where it was torn though so I thought it would be okay.

Now pile everything on!  This includes beans, sauteed onion & peppers, cilantro, avocado and of course srirachi.
*Note: While eating leftovers of this I added some of that goat cheese I had left over from the salad and it was a bit too rich, if you want to add cheese I would stick with the classic sharp cheddar.

Now you probably guessed what happened when I tried to fold this thing up.  It ripped apart.  But I’m supa smart and just doubled up the tortillas.

I don’t know if it was that I used two tortillas or if I’m just getting used to smaller portions, but this baby filled me up!  I loved every bite though.  Plus, there’s tons left over!  Next time I think I’ll drain the beans a bit because it was a little watery and I will chop up the full onion and pepper – I’m just going to chop up the other halves that I didn’t this time because I’m sure they’ll be the first thing to run out in my pile of leftovers.

Hooray for tacos!

Matt is my man

Matthew that is.  As in the book of the bible called Matthew.  I’m so funny.  Or lame.  Let’s split the difference and call me nerdy.

Wait, why are you bringing the bible into this, I thought this was a lose weight / recipe blog?

It is, sort of, but really it’s a “getting my shit straight” blog – which means that God has to be involved because I’m no good at this on my own.  Don’t worry, the next post will have tacos in it.  Hooray!

I’ve started studying Matthew, because why not just start at the beginning?  I don’t know the bible nearly as well as I should, so I’m going balls to the wall here, as in reading commentaries and everything.

One commentary I read is from here and the other is from here.  Right now I’m reading one chapter, reading both commentaries and then I listen to my dad’s teachings from Matthew here.  Pops is good about teaching the text in a way that applies it to your life, so I figured I would glean all I could from the text before I heard what dad taught and then listen with a better understanding of how he came to those conclusions, (and hopefully I’ll start coming to those same conclusions before I listen to his teachings.)

Rather then go through and re-word everything the commentaries and teachings taught me I’ll just tell you what really stuck with me from the passage.

Matthew Chapter One:

Oh wow, you’re really getting deep here aren’t you?  Hear me out.  Matthew opens his book with a genealogy.  Boring.  I know, or at least I thought so until I read the commentaries.  In his genealogy there are several ladies listed.  Now, it was not a normal practice back in that misogynistic day to put ladies in genealogies.  But Matt did and he mentioned some really… um… interesting ladies too.  The first mentioned, Tamar, dressed up as a prostitute so that her father-in-law would sleep with her and give her a son, another, Rahab actually was a prostitute, (and gentile to boot) who God saved because she helped the Israelites destroy her home town; Ruth wasn’t Jewish and Bathsheba, (Her who had been the wife of Uriah,) cheated on her husband while he was away at war.

So, why did God choose these women for Matthew to mention?  I’d like to think that it’s because God really likes us.  He likes us so much that he chose to redeem everyone through Jesus, even women, even prostitute women!  (There are some messed up dudes in the genealogy too, but I’m a lady so I like talking about the ladies.)  It’s not just about redeeming though, he goes so far to call us mess-ups his family.  He likes us so much that he doesn’t just say, “Okay, I guess I’ll forgive you because of Jesus.”  He says, “Yeah, of course I forgive you and in fact I’m writing you in on the family tree now.”  I think that’s so cool.

Mary got an angel in her face to deliver the message that she was getting knocked-up without any of the fun.  Joseph though, who I’m sure just thought that Mary was cheating on him only got a dream.  But, it seems like that’s all it took.  I think if I were Joe I might have needed an angel in my face too.  I think he was someone who really loved the Lord though and had come to a place in his life where he could distinguish God dreams vs. bad felafel dreams.  Which makes me wonder if that’s why God chose him.  I mean, I know God chooses to work through the screw-ups all the time, but I think it would be good to strive to be more like Joe, who didn’t just get a dream, but responded to it.  God will talk to Joe through dreams several more times, and in one instance Joe gets up and responds that night.  I want to be someone that, who when God speaks, responds immediately.  Personally, I’m an internal debater.  “Was that really God?  I’m just not sure.”  But, I think if a person studies the word and keeps the communication flowing with God, well, then that quiet whisper of a voice becomes a little more real.  Theoretically.  I don’t really know, I’m not there yet.

So yeah, that’s what I got out of the first chapter of Matthew.

 

Results are a beautiful thing.

Last Friday was weigh-in day and I came in at 165.2 – which means I have officially lost weight since I started this blog.  It only took me two weeks!

Factors in weight loss: Attempting smaller portions, no alcohol, (I miss those liquid carbs) and I worked out 5 of 7 days.

Exciting things: In the workout DVD I am doing, good ol’ Jilian does this thing called “Surrenders.”  If you follow that link you’ll see a video of a fellow blogger, I like her because she also has cat coaches as you can see in her video.  I thought about taking pictures of myself doing this workout – but then I thought again.  Now, the point is the first time I tried this I did two, laughed and then turned off the dvd.  I am proud to say that yesterday I was able to do every one that Jilian asked me to do, (around 10 – 2 sets of 5).  Basically, I kick ass.

Last week my meal was a salad.  Boring!  I know, but I learned some interesting things.

Salad ingredients:  (I’m sorry, I accidentally threw away my receipt so I don’t know how much everything cost.)

So I took above ingredients, chopped up what I needed to and threw everything in a tupperware with some olive oil and balsamic and then shook it all up.

Lessons I learned from this salad.

#1 – Cilantro and tuna do NOT go well together.
#2 – I don’t think I like red onions in a salad.
#3 – Tuna in a pouch is so convenient – I love living in the future – thanks Lauren for suggesting this!
#4 – Cheese makes a salad go from salad… to Salad!  It’s expensive, ($3.99) but seems worth it.
#5 – A bag of lettuce will fill up two big tupperwares.

Because of lesson #5 I had a chance to try this salad thing again.  This time I used my spring mix, a cucumber, tomato, avocado, goat cheese, tuna and the olive oil & balsamic.  It was perfect.  So perfect that my brain didn’t even register to take a picture of it.  But, I bet you have a good imagination and can picture it in your mind.  Trust me – it’s beautiful!

One last thing.  My neighbor has this tree with these fruit things on it.  I joked about eating them all one day and he said to go for it.  But, I don’t know if he was joking or if these things are actually edible.  Do you know?

Let’s call it muscle mass

Here’s the bad news: It’s been a week since I started this blog, so according to the rules I made for myself, last Friday was a weigh in day.  I have officially gained 1.8 pounds.  Shit!

When I told my friend Michelle that I had gained weight she explained that it must be muscle mass because I’ve been working out now.  How many days did you work out last week?  Three.  Oh wow, that’s muscle mass for sure.  I don’t appreciate your sarcasm.

Enough weight talk, let’s move on to food talk!

On Wednesday it was time to make my weekly meal.  (I usually only make 1-2 meals a week and then live on left-overs.)  I had sausage and cilantro left in my fridge from the rice & beans recipe.  I used this website, Gojee, which lets you say what ingredients you have and then it gives you a bunch of recipes from blogs with those ingredients.  I chose a meat and vegetable mash so that way I wouldn’t be all carbed out.  You can find the original recipe here.  It called for chorizo, but I didn’t have chorizo, I had spicy sausage.  It turned out the way you would expect a vegetable meat pile to taste like, nothing fancy but not bad either.  The spicy sausage was that best part.  I love sausage, but maybe the sausage is where the extra pound came from?  Or maybe it was all that cheese from last Thursday night, (velveeta + chilli = happy/fat.)

Meat & Veggies Mash Ingredients:

Cook your chicken.  I was going to bake it but then I just decided to just cook it in a pan with some olive oil and salt & pepper.

Chop up your veggies and cooked chicken.  It’s a lot of stuff, you’ll need your biggest cutting board!

Get a big ol’ skillet and brown your sausage and warm the chicken back up.

Then take the meat out and put your veggies in.  (I’m not sure why, but it’s what the recipe said.)

Once the veggies are cooked but not soft, throw the meat back in and add the cilantro!

That was last week’s food.  My plan is to update this more often but with shorter posts, (the way we Americans like it.)  Oh, and my sister, Janelle, and I have made a pact to do the Jilian DVD for five days this week – Monday through Friday.  According to Jilian, we will lose five pounds if we do.  Next time you see me I should be five pounds lighter!  Huzzah!

Strawberries and Jillian

Before I get into yammering about my life and my food I just want to say how awesome you guys are.  I really appreciate your comments and your encouragement, it means a lot to me.

First thing.  Confession.  When I bought the supplies for the Rice & Beans I had $4 left over in my budget, so I bought two bags of chips that were on sale at 2 for $4.  It was meant to be, or so I thought.  They didn’t survive the night.

This brings me to a good point, easy access food is dangerous and I can’t be trusted with it.  But, I’m lazy and sometimes don’t even want to put in the effort of heating up leftovers.  So, here is my current solution to the problem.

Strawberries + granola + yogurt, (preferably french vanilla) = happy stuffing of face.

Strawberries are on sale right now so this recipe also works for my budget.  It would probably be cheaper to make your own granola.  Did I mention I’m lazy?  (Because I don’t have any honey – a key ingredient to granola – I convinced myself it would be cheaper to buy pre-made granola than buying the ingredients for granola.  Plus, I wouldn’t have to clean any dishes if I just bought it.)  Is honey that expensive?  I have no idea.  Are you that lazy?  Maybe.  Sort of.  Does it matter?  I’m working on it.

Here’s the trick, as soon as you bring home the strawberries rinse those suckers, cut them up and throw them in a tupperware.  Why?  EASY ACCESS!!  While the combination of these three is delightful, it’s also so nice to have healthy, easy access food around.  I have sat with each of these three ingredients individually, spoon in hand, and gone to town.  I figure it’s better than chips.  Plus, when I look in the fridge after work and I see a fruit or veggie that I have to work to eat, (like cut a bit of green off) I’ll ignore it and it will go bad.  I guess that’s just a product of growing up in a processed culture.

At the risk of being long winded I’m also going to tell you about my exercising adventures.  Are you serious.  Yeah, you don’t have to read it though, I’ll understand.

My sister, Janelle, told me about a workout dvd that her co-worker let her borrow by Jillian Michaels.  Yeah, the lady from “Biggest Loser.”  So, I bought it on amazon for $7.99, it was last month and I put it on my credit card.  Gasp!  I know, I’m ashamed.  The dvd is, Jillian Michaels: No More Trouble Zones.  The first time I tried it I only lasted for eight minutes.  When I told my sister her response was, “The first five minutes are a warm-up.”  Are you serious?   I know, I’m ashamed.  I pulled it up again yesterday and gave it another go.  This time though, instead of using the 5 lb hand weights that I used the first time around I used some coffee mugs, (suggested by my sister) and lasted almost 21  minutes!  Today, after talking to Janelle again, she told me she used can foods.  It turns out I don’t have any canned food.  But, I do have two things half full of salt, so I used those instead.  And, even though my abs and legs were sore I did the video again today and lasted 24 minutes.  Oh wow, three minutes more!  Your sarcasm is noted and I must remind you that this is about progress, no matter how small.

After I’ve reached that point where I’ve stopped the video, my brain is usually frantic and I can’t think and I hate my life and I just want to curl up on the carpet and go to sleep.  To avoid the mental breakdown, both times after working out I’ve taken a short cool down walk around the neighborhood.  By the time I’m back home I’m able to think again and am usually more motivated.  In fact, it was the most recent walk that motivated me to put this post together.  You can leave now, I’ve kept you here long enough, the only thing that’s further down is some pictures from my first walk.  Thanks for the heads up.  Anytime.  If you wanted to though you could scroll down really fast past the pictures and leave a comment.  I knew you were going to comment beg!  I can’t help it, I crave approval.