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Icing on the Cake & Selfies & Stuff

It's 4:30 on a Friday afternoon. I took a selfie in my room. Bed is made up with substitute blankets while everything that usually outfits it gets washed. Both kids ended up sleeping in it with me & that makes for some messes you probably don't want to know about. My mirror is kind of dirty and there is my new favorite Noonday necklace & scarf in one corner, a card from a dear friend stuck in the other side. I am freshly showered, no make up, wearing a Krochet Kids t-shirt I adore & am sporting a belly seemingly made of a batch of pizza dough, and am feeling pretty cute and good in my skin at the moment.

At the moment, I'm feeling I could stay a little chunky forever & it wouldn't really matter because I have two beautiful kids that stretched out that belly, I am learning to be free from so many self-imposed food rules, and I am working through the 30 day shred mainly because it's stress-relieving and I like to feel strong. I am spending a lot of time I would normally spend thinking about food on other things, and despite the fact that being alone with little kids for too long can be maddening, I'm sure I live a pretty sweet life.

I decided against posting the selfie, even though I like what it represents because I can picture the comments about not being too hard on myself. I know what we will do as women; we will compare; whether we think we look better or worse (which usually actually has to do with where we sit mentally); we'll make guesses about pounds or make it about the appearance of something.

I believe in presenting our true selves. I do.  You guys, I love bright colors. I love a simple look with a loud pop, bright red Toms, big earrings, and loopy scarves. Some times the "self" I am presenting is "hey, I'm tired and worn and I'm doing my best here." That's okay, too. But the clothes & the make up is just the icing. Let's make it good icing, but let's not make the whole celebration about it.

I'm excited about this whole intuitive eating and fair trade and learning to live a better, more ME version of myself in large part because my kids are going to see that. I want them to love every inch of themselves and use it for the best possible good they can come up with.

Speaking of which, Meghan Trainor's All About That Bass is on repeat over here.


October Grocery Challenge- halfway point

Grocery budgeting pairs well with throwing out self-induced food rules and going more the intuitive eating route. Now if we have veggies, whole grains, some protein,a fat to cook with, coffee, peanut butter, and something to snack on in the house, I don't feel the need to buy more food. The want is sometimes there, but two young kids in tow quickly squashes the impulse shopper in me. I shopped for the first week of October prior to the beginning of the month and fully intended to post an update after purchasing more groceries the next week...but then I didn't go again until the 11th.

My first grocery stop for the month was Ebenezer Groceries. A friend who is in the same "tight budget but wanting to make responsible grocery choices" boat as I am has been singing its praises for weeks (maybe months?!). I was sold when she showed up to my house with a package of pastured chicken breast (this is the good stuff, and it almost always shows in the price tag) she'd purchased for $5.

The catch? It's 30 minutes away. Oh, and it's one of those stores where you're never quite sure what you're going to get. I had meticulously planned meals for the week, but when I showed up with my list, I knew I was about to fly by the seat of my pants. Although I only had one kid in tow, one grocery stop is about all I can handle these days.

Of note at Ebenezer:

  • cheap natural and organic food. I picked up some of my beloved Applegate bacon for $1.50/package (it normally runs for at least $5) I saw tubs of spinach for $1 each (lots of other good deals,too; that one stood out to me because of my love for green smoothies.  Oh, and have you seen these? They run for $4 or $5 around here, but they were on sale for $.99 at Ebenezer.
  • raw local milk
  • some products are close to or past date. It's actually okay to eat some food that is past its sell by date, but perishables can get iffy. Be sure to check labels and have your smart phone handy (or do a little research beforehand) if you're not sure if you can eat a particular item.

I will definitely be returning- but only on days I have one kid with me. The thought of taking two half an hour away to a grocery store where I am likely going to need to feed, entertain, and wrangle them both while checking dates and scouring shelves is a little overwhelming for me right now.

Spent: $44.42

My second grocery stop this month was a quick run to Giant after the kids were in bed. Due to a communication glitch + our weekend trip, I didn't actually end up purchasing any of my beloved Deep Roots eggs! In a pinch (my family thrives on eggs), we picked up some grocery store eggs. They run about $2 cheaper per dozen than the local pastured variety, but for the taste and nutrition, I'd much rather pay a little more.

Spent: $30.40

Tim picks up our CSA veggies each weeks and splits a whole share with his coworker. Here's an example of what a week's worth looks like. We paid at the beginning of the season, but we still factor it into our monthly budget.

Spent: $31.25

I contemplated heading back to Ebenezer last weekend, but I had both kids with me & the 30-minute drive just felt like too much. I did a quick shop at my currently 2nd favorite money-saving store, Aldi.

Not the best picture, but if you look close, you'll see organics & even fair trade coffee!

Spent: $57.25

Last Sunday was the first time we made it to the Farmers Market this month. We went to our favorite stands, as usual. Due to availability, we ended up only spending $15 this time.

One last purchase for the mid-month total- Tim found a deal on a huge tub of coconut oil on Deal News. 54 ounces cost us $24.25.

Total spent on groceries: $202.57 (Our budget for the whole month is $425.)

Right on track! I'm leaving out a lot of details on how we're making this budget work for us, so if you have any questions or tips for me (I realize our budget is high for some!), please leave them in the comments.

Last thing- eating out! Eek...this one is going to be the death of my frugal side. Nolan & I had a much-needed play date with some dear friends and ended up getting lunch at Chick-fil-a. We bought food to & from our weekend beach trip + an ice cream outing. I also didn't say no when Nolan asked if we could go to Chick-fil-a after a particularly stressful doctor visit. Total dollars spent? $73.97. Out of 50. That was in the first week alone.


How Intuitive Eating Is Helping Me Like Myself More

I have a post about how I'm doing with sticking to my grocery budget coming up mid-week. I know I said I was going to post on the 8th, but most of it's already written, so there's a good chance it'll actually get done this time.

Intuitive Eating makes my vision less cloudy.Figuratively. When I take away the anxiety, the thinking about food, worrying about food, spending too much money on food, there is room for more. There is room to see where else I can and/or want to invest my energy , time, or dollars. There's more peace for me.

I think maybe we all have this? Maybe it's not as tangible as food, but it's something that threatens to take away more of our attention, money, and devotion than it should. I don't know. I know that I've actually started praying about my meals...maybe this is what those rote before-meal prayers I've experienced so much of are supposed to be? God who made me, how do I eat to take care of ALL of me (body, mind, spirit)? How do I handle ________? How can I use the resources you've given me well?

I've eaten some really creative & delicious meals. I'm finding it easier to spend less. I'm letting going of perfect & not so consumed with food when I'm supposed to be living (most of the time- more on that in a moment). I've walked away from an unplanned pizza dinner with a satisfied (not overstuffed) belly and no anxiety over a meal I wouldn't normally choose.

These are big for me.

That isn't to say I'm having a completely easy time of it. I've white-knuckled my way through hours when I just wanted to stuff lots of food down and make it all stop. I've given in to the pull to eat my feelings and then paid the price for the next couple of days in my mood and energy (meaning, my family paid the price, as well).

And it isn't to say that food justice is no longer important to me. It is.

But I'm experiencing more peace. The peace I'm finding in the way I'm eating is seeping into other areas of my life. Most specifically, the what am I going to DOOOO for the rest of my life?! area. Maybe I won't do ONE thing for the rest of my life. Maybe I'll make lots of meals & spend my afternoons on the porch with the neighbors & advocate for women and families to stay together and not be taken advantage of (fair trade) & try to nurture my gorgeous family right now. Maybe my life will look boring sometimes & maybe I will never have thousands of followers -something I truthfully struggle with believing means I have found my niche in life.

Maybe a lot of things. I know that getting rid of the blinders that all that anxiety & all that binging brought me leads to a version of myself that is closer to how I was made and less formed by lies I('ve) believe(d).

I haven't arrived, but I sure as hell am walking that way.


Goals for October

Let me start off by saying that a sizable portion of my brain seems to be dormant. The rest is mainly focused on parenting two children while running on too little sleep and not going crazy while doing it.

I didn't go crazy yet, so I'm counting last month as a win.

Here's a look at September's goals & what I did with them.

[September Goals]

1. read Parenting with Love and Logic (I'm feeling like I could use some help as we navigate this new season of Nolan no longer being the only child.) I did read, but I didn't finish. I also read a good number of blogs on parenting this month.

2. stick to my running plan. I did...for a while. Towards the end of the month, I found I needed something a little gentler. I originally started  running for stress relief, but the lack of sleep had me going for more movement in the form of walking and yoga.

3. save sweet treats for the evening- if I start earlier than that, I can't seem to stop! I kind of forgot about this one...could be why I've been having such trouble curbing my sweet tooth!

4. go on an actual date (no kids allowed!) with my husband. I don't think this happened. We did create a schedule that includes an at-home date night, though.

5. purchase a couple of outfits from thredUp that I feel cute in. I did purchase a workout outfit I'm fairly happy with. The top is a cherry red, which isn't normally something I'd go for, but it fits well, so there's that.

6. have our "new" neighbors over for dinner. (They moved in several months ago, and we just met them. Ahem.) Nope. This did not happen.

7. get a (very) part time job in place. No again. Anything that might work for our family hasn't come together yet.

September goal progress could be discouraging...but I'm fairly new to this goal-setting thing. I'm good at coming up with ideas and plans, but follow through? Actual goals? No. It's possible that my first goals needed to change, I don't know & I'm viewing this as practice.

Just writing this post has me thinking of a handful of posts I want to write. Maybe those will happen?

In this mean time, here are my goals for October:

1. Stay within my food budget for the month.

2. Keep working through issues with food/ letting go of eating-related anxiety. I'm seeing some good progress with this- something I might sit down and write about this month.

3. Finish Parenting with Love and Logic.

I'm linking up with Hayley to share Goals with Grace.


October Grocery Challenge: The Guidelines

This month, I am challenging myself to stick to my grocery budget.

Since September was the only month we actually didn't overspend on food due largely to the many meals we received in the name of Selah's birth, this will be a true challenge for me and my family. I don't know if our  numbers are actually realistic or what we have to adjust in order to meet them. For the entire month (not just for the first half, as in other months), I'm going to make a concerted effort to meet our budget goals even when it feels uncomfortable. I'll report back each week with what we spent, where we spent it,  an abridged recap of what we ate.

Let's talk numbers. Of course, these may be high or low for you, depending on the area you live in, the size of your family, and how you choose to eat. I've said before that we don't meet these numbers easily (we are a family of EATERS plus I just love shopping for food), but this month, we will try to and then go from there.

The Budget

Groceries (this is just food): $425

Toiletries/Cleaning supplies: $25

Eating Out: $50

We are subscribed to a CSA though the end of October, so that's $62.50/month right away. When I think about the vegetables I've thrown away because they didn't get used in time, I realize we've thrown away money. I'm happy to support something my family and I believe in, but wasted money is still wasted- throwing away food means I have to buy more with actual cash that could have gone to better uses. I digress.

Okay, we also visit the farmers market nearly every week and hit the same stands + sometimes an extra or two. We love supporting our local farmers and artisans and are forming great relationships with some of them. We don't have a set budget for these trips but typically spend $20-$30 a week on this trip. I'll report each week with what we actually bought.

Tim buys his own food to keep at work- typically things like bread, peanut butter, honey, and beans. He estimates that he spends somewhere around $40/month.

So. $425/month minus $62.50 minus $40. We are left with $322.50 to spend on groceries for the month or approximately $80/week. That is not a huge number, but it might be doable.

We will find out, right?

The Guidelines

I will be using food leftover from previous months' purchases. I promise I didn't stockpile in anticipation of this challenge. I did pick up a few items last Friday to last us through the end of the month, but I've actually been doing the opposite of stockpiling- eating through our freezer and pantry, motivated to actually meet our budget this month. (I wasn't actually sure we would, despite all the gifted meals!)

We can accept free food (when eating at someone else's house, for example), but we won't be purposely mooching off of others. We will always bring something to share or at least offer to do so, if that is more fitting.

The reasons for these two allowances is that they are part of our real life. This month is still real life. We will use the flour we already have on hand, eat at others' homes, and invite others to eat in ours.

This week, I am flying solo all day through the kids' bed times one day (um, hello necessary Chick fil A trip?!), working out most days AND breastfeeding (hello, appetite!), and going with my family on a long weekend beach trip. Just a few budget challenges to start the month off right.

What are your budget challenges this week?

(I'll be posting what I bought & how we made it work on October 8th.)


October Grocery Budget Challenge

We've been going over our grocery budget every month this year.

I gave myself permission to pick up whatever strikes my fancy because I was pregnant, or because I needed it to fulfill my anxiety over having the "perfect" foods, or because I just needed the stress relief. Grocery shopping is my retail therapy. I don't shop for shoes, generally (thredUp credits may change that!). I shop for fancy food.

Guess what, people? I'm currently a full-time stay-at-home mom again, at least for a while. (I'm currently working on side job prospects, but no set plans yet.) That means, of course, less income, so all of those splurges won't get so easily absorbed. I've been talking and thinking about where I can find an outlet for myself that feels like me. Even better if it stretches me.

I have a few plans in the works for this, but you guys, let's talk about food right now. You know I LOVE to talk about, shop for, make, eat, and serve food. At the top of my list is feeding my family with satisfying, nourishing food. I think another way I can nurture my family is doing all those things without over-spending our hard-earned money.

I've seen quite a few blog posts on tips and challenges to eat well on a limited budget, but I have yet to find out if I can pare down our budget (and stick to it!) while eating in a way I am happy with.

In my dream world, all of our food would come from local farms or fair trade coops, but at the moment, eating "perfectly" is not in our budget. Actually, the attempt or perceived need to be perfect has been a contributor to my unhealthy issues with food.

Part of this challenge will be about the balance between sticking to our budget and eating in a way that is respectful of the earth, the people who grow it, and my own body. <---All of those things are important to us, but so is being able to pay our bills, staying home (at least part time) with our kids, & funding businesses that are creating jobs and ethical products we believe in.

How is a family on a budget supposed to balance all that? I think part of it has to do with throwing out "perfect." Other parts, I'll find out during the month of October.

Want to follow along? Come back on Monday for my Grocery Budget Challenge Guidelines!


good morning & warning: I wrote this BEFORE coffee.

Be warned that this post may be bit all over the place. I am currently waiting for the coffee to brew and taking an opportunity to write while I can.

Intuitive eating is going well. I'm planning to write more about that "soon." Soon is relative these days.

I'm starting to understand why some moms wake up at 5 am to get their "me" time. I've been running on days when my husband or my mom can watch one or both of the kids (sometimes Nolan rides along in our Jeep stroller), and I come back feeling so refreshed, even in face of the fact that my body could use a lot more sleep. However, this arrangement isn't quite sustainable. We are entering CRAZY BUSY season at Tim's job &my mother is just one person who has other things to do than meet all my needs (she helps me a LOT and is a major factor in me not taking up permanent residence in Crazy Town these days). This means I need to find another outlet & way to feel like "me."

Raising a toddler and a baby can be maddening. Reason is not a tactic that always (often?) works with them. I'm spending my days mitigating messes, talking out requests, giving hugs and handling BIG emotions (ie. MANY tantrums & tears). I'm trying to be a creative parent, allow my son to live even if it means many, many messes I'll need to clean up (of course, he helps, but there is usually still a mess left over), meet the needs of two kids that don't always align. I am trying to differentiate the times when I say no just because I don't want to deal with something or I'm worried about irrelevant implications and the times when I say no because it's necessary.

Even now, while I write this, my 2-year-old seems to have found out that I am stealing a slice of peace for myself and is right by my side asking questions, some of them repeated, some of them seemingly illogical (for example, "but why?" when unprovoked and unattached to a conversation).

And what's more important? Being present for my son or finding bits of time where I can be myself and get some refreshment (writing does that for me)?



People, I am choosing this life. It is challenging me, but it's a life I want to live.

I just need to figure out how to live well in it, and not just get through it.

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Intuitive Eating: feeling hopeful

I have two issues with food:

Anxiety- crippling worry about eating or having the "perfect" foods on hand; worry about whether or not I have control of any particular meal

Binge eating- consuming food, but not really enjoying it or tasting it as a means of comfort.

Though seemingly conflicting, the two feed into each other. I construct ideas of what the perfect way to eat is. (This often is well-intentioned. Our food system IS a mess. There IS such a thing as food justice. I DO have the option to "vote" with my grocery dollars. I don't want to discount that. I'm not giving up my fair trade ways here.) I restrict. I say no to whatever food or foods for a variety of reasons. And then I miss those foods.  I experience loneliness, inadequacy or fatigue; I'm feeling weak and BAM, I'm shoveling in forbidden foods and or foods I don't even LIKE to quickly to really experience them. And then there's the guilt over eating too much and/or breaking the rules, the resolve to do better next time, the new eating plan or re-commitment to the old one. On and on, and the more times it happens, the weaker I get.

When I am in a healthy place with food, I actually find a lot of joy in the selection, chopping, cooking, serving, tasting, and sharing of food. I love roasted anything and coffee with plenty of cream. I am thrilled with the fact that I live in a place where I can get local and pastured eggs and meats, raw dairy, and fresh, seasonal vegetables. One of my happiest places is the kitchen.

If I could, I would open up a cafe that serves fair trade coffee and local cream. Fresh, local bread with smashed avocado and local eggs would for sure be on the menu. I've been banning myself from bread for so long because gluten makes me tired! when the reality is, eating too many grains is likely what leaves me feeling sluggish. Staying away from wheat all together has me frustrated and more binge-prone, and I'm done with that.

I would serve local pastries, too (fresh cinnamon buns with icing, please!), and fun concoctions for the gluten free people. Lunch would offer sandwiches made with thick slices of bread I miss so much and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies for dessert.

My daydreaming reminds me that I am a lover of simple, fresh, and homemade food. I also love to explore places and cultures through food. I used to look for reasons to invite friends to sit around my table and dunk chunks of bread and slices of apples into cheese fondue. Oh, and fall food? Bring on the homemade pie with crumb topping and vanilla ice cream. Give me hearty soups and cheddar cheese.

I am thrilled to become an intuitive eater. I'm already feeling more free. I'm already rediscovering the pleasure and joy that food can bring. It feels like it's been way too long since I've experienced that.


conquering the same old demons.

I'm not doing so well with the not stuffing my face thing, and I need to talk about it.

Hi, Internet.

Once upon a time (or several), I typed out honest requests for help, and you answered.

Thank you, and now I am asking again.

I am struggling right now.

I have two beautiful, amazing, masterpiece-caliber children. They are doing their thing as kids. It isn't their fault that where they are in their development drives me to want to eat an entire cake (with extra icing, please) on a regular basis & they aren't grown up yet and don't really get adult logic. It isn't their fault that I chose to bring them into the world and now they have to make sense of it and share my attention & they definitely don't want to do that. It isn't their fault, really, that I don't get enough sleep (okay, it kind of is, but I'm pretty sure they're not consciously depriving me of sleep).

If I knew how hard parenting can be, I probably wouldn't have joined the club.It is THAT maddening some days, but I'm glad I didn't know because NOLAN and SELAH. I mean, they are frustrating, yes, but also 2 of my very favorite people. It's just that raising tiny little humans that AREN'T puppets and who have their own personalities, opinions, and desires has a way of bringing my previously buried ugly parts to the surface where I can't possibly ignore them any more.

One of those obvious ugly parts: I have some disordered eating patterns I need to work on &through. I binge for comfort- when I'm tired, feeling inadequate, or frustrated. When I'm not doing that, I'm restricting. I don't restrict calories- I haven't done that since high school, and am pretty sure I'm not longer capable of not eating enough calories. But instead of paying attention to the needs and true cravings of my body, I create rules for myself- no meat, no gluten, eat paleo-ish, eat clean, don't eat sugar,don't eat too much _________. In the name of being healthy. Of COURSE. When I am operating out of my eating rules, I feel actual anxiety over eating outside my home, running out of the right foods, or traveling when I don't know what I will eat because what if I can't eat perfect meals?!

This is not healthy for my mind, my body, my life, my family, or ME.


I want to let go of all the rules.

I want to make more time for journaling- actual pen to paper, writing about how I'm feeling when I eat and about what I need or am having a hard time with.

I want to practice Intuitive Eating. (I just bought the book on Kindle!)

I'm going to feel uncomfortable and unnatural, but I want to have a healthier relationship with food & my body...for my own sake, the sake of my family, and for my corner of the world where I could be offering a better version of myself.

Here I go. Again. I'm a little discouraged to know I haven't conquered the same demon I've been fighting for years, but fighting is better than giving up, right?