Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Yay for Losing!

Just a quick note to check in.

I missed last week's Weight Watcher's meeting. I went today and found out that I have lost 4.4 pounds over the last 2 weeks. I am right on target with my goal to lose 10 pounds by the end of the year.

We had plans to go to Boise to see family for Thanksgiving. We ended up staying home instead. It turned out to be a really nice thing. Thanksgiving day was spent with my parents, but other than that, we worked really hard on getting our home in order. I finally reorganized my entire kitchen. I didn't unpack it and have wanted to do this since we moved in.

We've been enjoying the snow and the beginning of the holiday season.

I'll check back in soon.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Progress and Macaroons

Well, I did gain 1.4 pounds from my week of overindulgence. Could have been worse. But, then again, it usually takes about 2 weeks for the full effect to show up, so we'll see.

I am happily back on plan. Weight Watchers is changing their program dramatically by the end of November. I am just hoping that all of the fun weight watcher's cookbooks I have will not become obsolete. Of course, I could always use the recipes and convert to the new plan as they helpful for losing weight and are delicious.

I worked at Raw Melissa's kitchen last night. We made macaroons and key lime pies, more sandwiches and spring rolls. Speaking of spring rolls, they come with the most delicious Thai Nut Sauce. The recipe is in her new cookbook-- Faves.

Later...I started this post a few days ago. About time I finished it. Well, I have not done as well as hoped with tracking the last few days. I don't know why it is so hard sometimes. Having said that, the only thing I can do is recommit to track everything that I eat today.

We did a family photo session with my cousins. I have been having fun processing those photos. It was overcast so we thought we wouldn't be able to capture the golden/pink time of the evening. Well, we learned a lot about timing. Next time I would do more poses as well. It's all about experience and learning from, right?

Here are a few of the ones I have been playing with.

After this photo session, we went back to their house, had dinner from kneaders (thus my difficulty tracking....) and then cleared out the living room and danced. Rob and Tina are both great swing dancers. I want to learn how to dance in the biggest way. I struggle with following. I danced once with Rob--he attempted to teach me some things. I felt like I made a fool of myself. I need to cut myself some slack and become teachable. The great thing in all of this is that I, Maren, was dancing. Even though it was not skillful, what a dream come true.

Being November and all, reminded me to bring back my daily gratitudes.

1. Living in Utah. I love it here. I am happy happy happy that we made this move.

2. My health. I am still improving, but I have practically come back from the dead that I am grateful for what I can do every day.

3. Working with Raw Melissa. What a wonderful opportunity. I am loving every minute of it.

4. Theatre. Seeing the Scarlet Pimpernel a few weeks ago and watching the 25th Anniversary concert of Les Miserables in the theatre. Musical theatre moves me and I love it.

5. That we are now a two car family and our second car is darling and one I have wanted for years.

Life is good.

-love you all!


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Yes, I know......

being a witch goes great with Christmas themed background. I just like this picture. Maybe I'll have some good Christmas ones to choose from before the season is over.

A Whirlwind and a Resolution

I've already put some of this on facebook, so for my facebook friends--please forgive the repeat. I've added something new on the end, I promise.

Jeff and I were starting to notice that having another car might be a helpful thing. Now that I am well, I am out and gone A LOT. (*hooray!!*) Having one car has really worked for us since Jeff telecommutes and I wasn't getting out much. That is changing and we are both getting more involved in activities.

So, we started looking online for fun. We found a Mini Cooper that looked promising, so we went to take a gander at it. Right next to it was my dream car from about forever--a Mazda RX8. Jeff has also been wanting something sporty, but thankfully, this car has a back seat so it is more practical.

Buying the car took a bit, as it does, so we had Reilly go over to some friend's houses. (thank goodness for church, I do love our new ward). When we got back, the boys went out to see what we had bought. It was really cute. Reilly's friends were oohing and ahhing. Reilly kept saying "this is the best day of my life". Funny kid.

Anyway, here is a picture.

And for my resolution. Today is Wednesday, which also happens to be the day that we go to Weight Watchers. This particular Wednesday at Weight Watchers is not going to be a fun one (I kinda wanna skip!). I had a bit of too much pleasure this past week eating pastries and desserts from Kneaders--and it's not even the Holidays yet! I really do hate throwing away weeks and sometimes months of hard work, yet I didn't consider that when I was indulging. oops.

I had mentioned in my previous post that I was looking for something to focus on and blog about. I think I will do what was suggested and come up with different themes monthly or so. I might even start a separate blog for that. I wont officially get started until the new year though.

However, there is one goal that I really want to work on now and I am having trouble with the accountability part. We are now entering the tastiest time of the year. I would like to commit to keeping track of my weight watchers points--all of them, from a little nibble or a taste here to meals. I am allowing myself to go over my allotted points if I choose as long as I write them down, but when I track I rarely go overboard. My goal is to do this daily and be accountable to the blog for it. For the purpose of having something finite, I will do this on my blog through the end of the year, with the intent of losing 10 pounds from today (so, I guess I do need to go to my meeting.........). If I can lose 10 pounds through the holidays, that will be quite a feat.

The beauty of this is that weight watchers works. Whenever I track my points, I lose weight. I has never failed. And, I can still eat yummy things, it just takes more work since I need to make lightened up recipes. I have yet to find a weight watchers recipe that I don't like.

So, to make this doable, I am starting today, Wednesday November 17th 2010. The final goal will end on January 1st, 2011. I want to break it down into manageable pieces. My tracking week starts on Wednesday, since that is the day of the meeting. My smaller objective is to track every day this entire next week (and I'll be traveling over Thanksgiving to make it a bit trickier to do). Even simpler still--I am going to start by tracking today. I love breaking things down into daily tasks.

I just had another idea that will probably motivate me to eat healthy food. I'm sure no one really cares, but if I have to put on the blog what I ate, I just might think twice before eating something too refined. Mostly, it will be dinner and snacks. I usually have some sort of cereal for breakfast and a green smoothie for lunch with a vitatop. Having my green smoothie daily is also very important to losing weight. I usually lose when I have them daily (did I this past week? nope!). They are healthy but they also fill me up and I don't crave or want to eat too much.

Anyway.....I have rambled FAR too much about this.

I'll check back in with the damage report and how things are going.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Blog a Day

I enjoy reading blogs by ambitious people who decide to do something everyday or so much in a year. For example, in this blog she is reading 365 books in 365 days. I can't even imagine how that could be possible. Then, my newest favorite photographer, blogs here, a photograph a day taken and edited with his Android phone to show that being a great photographer isn't just about having a great camera. Boy does he prove that too. Then, of course, there was the blog made famous by the movie "Julie and Julia", where another ambitious soul decided to cook every recipe in Julia Childs famous cookbook in one year and blog about it.

I love that kind of thing. I've often wondered if there would be something I could focus on for a period and blog about. My problem is that I have so many things I am interested in that it is hard to narrow it down. Plus, I get bored rather quickly and move on to something new. What does that say about me? Hmmmmmmm. I would love to do a photograph a day as that would get me to use my camera more. I am also interested in cooking and making healthy food that is also delicious. I could blog about the new recipes that I try. That would be more of a once a week thing than every day (who knows though, wouldn't daily be cool?).

I love love love to read. But, it takes me awhile to finish any book as I usually only read a few minutes before I fall asleep.

So, what should I focus on and blog about? Maybe a separate blog dedicated to that focus so this one can remain about my family's comings and goings. Maybe a blog about finishing all of my unfinished projects. I'm sure that is also telling quite a bit about me. I'm going to think on it. I may not be able to pull off a blog a day, but maybe a blog a week? That would work too and probably be more realistic with how I work.

My life has really picked up the pace lately, so it's not like I really need a new project right now. I just think it would be fun.

I leave you with some pictures from my cousin's Mad Hatter Tea birthday party.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Design in Progress

I am obviously redoing the background and banner. It is being a work in progress. I want to finish it now, but alas, I have an appointment I need to get to. Hopefully today.....

Catching Up

There has been some requests on facebook to give more detail about my new job. I have mentioned Raw Melissa on this blog before. She is local and makes the most decadent and delicious raw desserts. I had her make a chocolate raspberry truffle pie for my birthday. Yummmm. For some reason, I really wanted to work with her from the moment that I met her. She is fun and has fantastic energy. She has a new website that is pretty awesome. Check it out here.

She mentioned on facebook the other day that she was looking for some volunteers. I, and several others, jumped at the chance to work with her. She had positions for two and of the many who originally were interested, I, so far, have been the only one who has been serious enough to follow through and start working. I am compensated with lots of freebies.

It's a really part time position (perfect for me). 4 hours a week or so. I started this week. I was nervous for my first day. It was the first time I've worked outside of the home in ages and all of my fears of my health were at the forefront of my mind. It could not have gone better. I felt fantastic and had a wonderful time.

Raw Melissa has recently landed a deal with Whole Foods in our local 4 state area. Her business is growing and I imagine the holidays are going to be a very busy time. She also has an awesome new cookbook out that can be purchased here.

That is what's going on with that. I have certainly come far.

Last night, Jeff and I were privileged to go with my parents to the Hale Theatre to watch their production of The Scarlet Pimpernel. This was my first time to this particular theatre. I was blown away. The talent was incredible. I absolutely LOVED the show. I wish I could go back and see it again, but alas, it is sold out. I don't know what it is about this area, but there seems to be so much more to do. There are always classes, entertainment and BYU events that I am interested in going to. The problem is saying no to most everything. I am so happy we are here. We have done more in the last few months that we've lived here than we have in our entire 12 years of marriage. My health is a big part of that, I know, but it's more than just that.

Anyway, things are going exceptionally well. Anyone who wants to come and visit, our home is always open!

Love you all!



Sunday, October 31, 2010

Love, not Fear

I had an epiphany today as I contemplated the sugary halloween candy that I was consuming. When I consider eating sugar, I usually make the decision not to because I am *afraid* of the physical ramifications the next day. I picture myself not being able to walk or worse. I realized today that I am tired of making my decisions because of fear. I am tired of trying to make good choices only because I am scared of what will happen if I don't. I want to make my choices based on love instead. I would like to choose to eat healthy because I love my body and want to be as healthy as I can so that I can have more children and take care of my husband and the son I already have. What a difference that point of view is. I am tired of the media and even the alternative medical folks (and western too, for that matter) who use fear as their primary motivating force. It's time for me to change the intents of my heart and get my motivations in line with my priorities.

On that note, I found this clip interesting.


Happy Halloween!

Here, in Utah, we had trick or treating last night. Jeff and I haven't handed out candy for years. Jeff was always out with Reilly and I was in bed, unable to participate in this fun holiday. We more than made up for it yesterday. I went a bit overboard in buying candy and then the rain made the night slower than it would have been, so I have lots of leftovers that I am not sure what to do with.

We had a lovely day. Jeff and Reilly went to our cousin's ward Halloween party Friday night. I stayed home to get some much needed R&R. After the busy month we've just had, Jeff and I slept way in on Saturday. What a luxury.

I spent much of the day cooking and straightening up. We had my parents and my cousins family over for dinner before trick-or-treating. It was loads of fun. Have I mentioned how much I love being here? One of the things we most treasure about our lives now is how much we are doing and participating in life, rather than just watching it pass us by.

I have also volunteered to help in Raw Melissa's kitchen. I am very excited by this opportunity.

Ok, back to Halloween. Jeff has been talking and dreaming about coming up with amazing costumes for years. It never made it past the *thinking about it* stage. This year he went all out. I am married to the most amazing man. We went all out and bought Reilly a Harry Potter costume (he read or rather, listened to, the first book this year). Unfortunately, we forgot to put his glasses on for the photoshoot or for the trick-or-treating. Oh well. I am full of tangents this morning. Jeff found this picture of snape and decided to design his own costume.

He went at it as an engineer would. He completely designed and made the costume himself, without a pattern. He even fabric covered the buttons. It turned out great. He is quite the tailor. What an impressive feat.

Backing up to Friday again. We went to Reilly's school for the costume parade. It was very cute. And, Reilly was able to go with my Aunt to her son's business for some fun trick-or-treating. He's been having a ball.

We had my parents and my cousins family over for dinner, as I mentioned. It's been years since I've done much in the kitchen, but was pleased to find out that I haven't lost my touch. I am still a good cook (*yeah!*).

Then while the kids and some of the bigger kids (their parents) went trick-or-treating, Mom, dad and I played cards in between answering the door.

I should mention also that I have the most amazing and talented cousins. They were dressed up as Alice in Wonderland characters. My favorite part of the evening was my cousin, the Red Queen, answering the door. Besides scaring the really little kids, most everyone loved it.

Here are pictures of our costumes.

Friday, October 29, 2010

More Company and Halloween

We have had quite a week. In truth, it has been wonderful and a dream come true. We have the space and were able to host my aunt and uncle and all of their children at different times during the week. My cousin is a marine and recently returned from Afghanistan.

On Saturday, I was able to go to their family's photo shoot and meet a professional photographer friend of theirs. He was very generous and talked to us for awhile. He even, occasionally, needs volunteers for photo shoots. This is another dream of mine.

Then, we went to Lagoon. Lagoon is a local amusement park that I have not been to since I was 7. Reilly had a fantastic time. I even did really well. Jeff and Reilly both surprised me with how much of a daredevil they were. Since we've been married, I don't think we have ever done so much together or had so much fun. I do get tired, but I am going strong and doing more than I ever thought possible.

I am behind on my photo editing, so I didn't take many pictures of this week with my cousins. Did I mention that we won a copy of Adobe Photoshop CS5 deluxe in an auction at Reilly's school? Now I am playing with that, seeing what I can relearn about it.

Also, today, Reilly dressed up as Harry Potter for school and we went and saw him in a parade. It was very sweet.

He had a blast this week with his older cousins who also like video games. From what I heard, he is able to keep his own pretty well. Not a surprise.

I have a few pictures from the darling Mad Hatter birthday party we went to earlier in the month. I will have more pictures from that soon.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Long Time, No Post

I just realized how long it had been since I last posted. It has been one busy, busy month. We have had lots of family come to town and had a wonderful time with that. That is one of the ever so many reasons I am so grateful to live here now.

Then, we had my cousins 2 oldest daughters stay with us while their parents went on a vacation. We had a great time. They are wonderful girls. We carved pumpkins, made crafts, went to a couple of parks, the girls made incredible lego creations and we played and played. It was a lot of fun.

We have more company coming to stay with us this weekend. I've done a lot of sleeping the past few days.

I haven't had a chance yet to parse through the many photographs that were taken over the past month. I do, however, have some pictures that I took of my cousins youngest two. My brother-in-law, Ed, is a fabulous photographer (he's done it professionally). He brought his big and expensive equipment and was so generous to let me play with it. I got to ask him lots of questions. I'm still looking for a local mentor. I'm also looking into taking some distant learning classes. Haven't decided yet. I haven't found anything local (classes) that seem a good fit. I'm sure if I look harder, I will.

But for now, I leave you with these 2 cuties.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wow!!!! What a night!

I am so filled with gratitude right now. My older sister and her husband are here picking up their son from his mission. We got together tonight with them and my brother's family and my parents. It was such a good experience for me. I realized later that my usual worries and concerns about how my body is (mis)behaving didn't even come up in my mind AT ALL. It's hard to explain how miraculous and different that is. I usually, no matter what I'm doing, still have some struggles. It's been my way of living for so long, I almost didn't know how to overcome all of it. I would always be somewhere near Jeff (my safe person--yes, this is anxiety). I would be aware of my body and how it was feeling the majority of the time. I often became uncomfortable and would change locations, sit on the floor or whatever seemed to help. Tonight, not a SINGLE thought about my health, how it appeared to others, or how I was going to make it through entered my head. In fact, I didn't sit near Jeff for most of the night. We told stories and laughed and had a fabulous time. I feel closer to my family than ever before. Jeff said that it was good for him to see me right in the thick of things, telling stories and engaging with the whole family. Usually, I am more of a "sit on the sidelines" and hope to make it through the evening kind of person.

It's neat--my doctor out here, who I love and has only seen me twice so far, told me this week that I am not the same Maren that I was. He is so right. So many good things have been changing and happening for us, I am filled with joy.

I just wanted to share. It was such a lovely night and I am feeling so blessed and grateful that so many of my dreams are being realized.

On a side note--our dog, Kyle, has fallen in love with my oldest sister. I have never seen him take to someone like he has her. She really has a way with animals and they know it. That has also been a happy thing to see.

Anyway, it is late. My other sister's family are on their way here from the airport right now. We are just missing my younger brother. This is being a great reunion for the Larsen Clan.

I'll have pictures to post soon.



Sunday, October 3, 2010

Conference and Reilly of Days Past

We are enjoying watching General Conference for our Church with my parents and an Aunt and Uncle.

I have taken a short trip down memory lane and looked into the pictures I have taken over the years of Reilly. I miss those cheeks and that natural smile. I hope to see them again soon!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Reilly's Baptism

Reilly turned 8 on August 2, 2010. He was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on September 4, 2010. He was baptized on the same day as 4 other children from our ward (local congregation) who also turned 8 in August.

He was baptized and confirmed a member of the Church by his father. Reilly, who doesn't like water on his face, did awesome. We baptize by immersion, so everything must be under water or they need to do it again. Reilly did have to go through it twice, for that reason. He was a trooper. I am proud of my growing up son.

It was a lovely day. We even had some friends from Maryland, who have moved here, come to celebrate it with us.

Here's a few photos.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

the blue lemon and family

We just got back from a catered party at the blue lemon (which I love) for my dad's aunt's 87th birthday. She looked great. It was fun. I met a bunch of relatives (cousins-- twice, second, removed or something). Reilly immediately found a group of kids running around and joined in. He had a blast and wants to go back tomorrow even though we explained that it wouldn't be a private party and the kids wouldn't be there, etc. Most of the kids were girls even. He has come a long way.

So......the blue lemon. That is a unique, locally owned and operated restaurant that I discovered shortly after we moved here. I liked it so much that I took my mom to it and we had a wonderful time that we have plans to go back. Their food is on the more natural, healthy side, but with a twist. Everything is a bit different but absolutely delicious. They have carrot cupcakes that are made with whole wheat flour and agave for the sweetener. They served them tonight and yummmmm.

It turns out that the owner of the blue lemon is one of my second-cousins-removed-or whatever. Yes, it's a stretch, but I am excited to find out that it is owned by someone in the family. My family is huge. I do look forward to getting to know more of my extended family.

They also have cooking classes that look wonderful and I plan on taking some next year. Raw Melissa has also taught there.

Anyway, I'm excited that I found this cool place and then found out that it's in the family.

I am really into supporting locally owned and operated businesses of all kinds.

Ok, gotta run. Boys are waiting for me to do the night time routine stuff.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Raw Melissa, Buy Local CSA and early Halloween costume pics

I had the pleasure this morning of meeting Melissa of Raw Melissa at the local Natural Foods Store--Good Earth in American Fork. She was there signing her new cookbook which I have purchased. I have loved eating her raw desserts and the cookbook is filled with yummy looking recipes. She was great in person. I am really enjoying the opportunities I am finding here.

I have also found, through Raw Melissa, Jacob's Cove Heritage Farm. They have are local--located in Orem--and have a year round CSA. They are the only one in Utah County so far. I am excited for the fall share starting on October 4th.

Mom and I went to Ginger's Garden Cafe for lunch this week. That is where Jeff and I went on a date recently. I braved something new and tried their raw pizza. I didn't like it near as much as the other food I tried there. I do want to go back and try some of their other options.

Speaking of mom, she is off this weekend attending her 50th High School Reunion. Wow.

Jeff and I watched The Ghost Writer last night. Now I am going to have to read the book. It was suspenseful and interesting.

This week was kind of awash. I did go to my mom's and help her in the garden. Other than that, not a whole lot is going on. We are now on Step 2 of Green Smoothie Girl's 12 steps to whole foods. We are eating lots of salads. I am doing my best to make a variety so we don't get tired of them. Raw Melissa's book "Faves" has several salad's that look different and absolutely delicious.

I did some fall planting of cool weather crops and greens. They are beginning to sprout. I intend to cover them when it begins to frost and see how long I can get them to last. Then, hopefully they will come back in the spring. I am excited to put in a few raised beds next year to start my own veggie garden.

This post has turned into a series of ramblings. That's where my thoughts are right now, I guess. All over the place.

Reilly is doing well in school. He has a really cute friend, Joe, that lives a couple of doors down. Joe's 2 older brothers start for BYU Football--it makes watching the games more fun (thankfully, I missed their heartbreaking loss last week). His brothers are Terence Brown and Rhen Brown.

Our calling in Cub Scouts is going ok. We have lots to learn to make it a real success. The boys seem to be having fun in the meantime, regardless.

We are all loving the weather. It is so nice outside. The mountains are starting to turn red and orange. We are going to go for a drive to see the leaves in the mountains around the first of October.

We bought Reilly his Halloween costume already. He is going to be Harry Potter. He was just introduced to the first book and movie this summer. I'm including a few pictures.

I hope everyone is having a good week!


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Raw Food, No Pictures

I thought I'd blog even though I don't have pictures ready to put up yet.

Jeff and I are really getting into eating whole foods, green smoothies, raw, etc. is the coolest. We went to one of her classes after we moved here. I must say that consuming so many green, leafy vegetables has done more for my health than any of the medication, supplements, therapies, etc. that we have tried. I feel really great and it keeps on getting better.

Tonight for dinner, I had bought a smorgasboard of raw foods to try (crackers, dip, salad dressing, something we don't know what it was-but it was good, then the desserts--truffle pie, chocolate covered macaroons and a lavender apple cinnamon cookie). That cookie was a bit heavy on the lavender and unfortunately, wasn't a favorite. Everything else we really enjoyed quite a bit. I am so proud of Jeff too. He has gotten totally on board with the green smoothies and everything else. I am also proud of myself. If anyone knew me back when, I don't think a single vegetable touched my lips for the majority of my life (until my 30s). Now I love them and am not the picky eater, in the slightest, that I once was. Although, I still take exception to eggplant. I may give that another try.....maybe.....

Our grand goal is to get Reilly on board and cure all of his ills. We have yet to figure out a way to do that. I am hopeful that we will get the help we need for him. We have lots of appointments coming up.

Love and miss y'all



Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Hi Again!!!!

Hello long lost blog. Oh how I have missed you. Well, the good news is that I am back (to blogging, that is).

So much has happened this year. Where to begin. Well, our biggest news is that we have moved from Maryland to Utah. That was a HUGE move. We love our home and our neighborhood. Reilly loves his new school.

Speaking of Reilly......he was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on Saturday.

I love the opportunity out here to see more of my mom's side of family and friends who might be passing through. We have plans this fall to go to a BYU football game, a BYU basketball game, the play "The Scarlet Pimpernel", etc.

Most of all though, Jeff and I are focusing on the basics. Our basic morning and night routines, cooking and eating at home, being back on weight watchers, working with Reilly's eating, etc.

I decided that I was not ready to start taking piano lessons yet. I do practice everyday. We had our piano tuned and fixed. Some things obviously hadn't been done since it was made (I think it is older than me). We hope to have it refinished this year too as it sustained some injury from the move.

I have not done much in the way of photography. I have missed that too. Moving was a big deal, but it went fairly smoothly. We decided not to sell our home yet and are renting it to some close friends.

I live 30 minutes from my parents and 5 minutes from my brother's family and a cousin. I go over weekly to help my mom in the garden.

The weather here is really lovely. I love the lack of humidity part.

After being away from the west for 20+ years, I was finally able to attend a family reunion on my mom's side. It was fun to introduce Jeff to more family.

I need to get some pictures of our house taken so I can post them. The few we took during our househunting trip are still in raw format and I'll need Jeff's help to get them usable.

I do have several pictures I took at the reunion. My goal with my photography is to take candid portraits. I want them to look like portraits but to catch people's personalities and expressions without having them "pose". are some of those.

I do tend to gravitate towards baby's to photograph. Just a bias of mine.

Another purpose for this blog is now to keep in touch with all of the family and friends that we left behind when we moved. We love and miss you all!

I'll blog again when I get some more photos processed.

Until then......