Friday, April 25, 2008

OK, that is a pretty strong statement.

But not too far from the truth.

When I started drinking green smoothies every morning, about six weeks ago, I was very skeptical. I mean, how revolutionary could they be? And they couldn't taste good, right? And how could someone write a whole book about them? When Sara was here, I agree to try them. A couple of bananas, seven or so strawberries, a spoonful of honey, some water, a handful of spinach. I was amazed at how good they were. How filling. How you could hardly tell the spinach was there. I have been drinking them almost every day for breakfast since then and have slowly been adding more greens.
I immediately started eating better. When I started my day in such a healthy way, it was easier to make good decisions for the rest of the day. I lost 5% of my body weight in the first 3 weeks, after 7 months of being at a complete plateau (even after adding in running 5K, 3x a week).

Then, I fell off the bandwagon for about 10 days, right around my birthday. And I fell hard. I immediately felt the effects. My face broke out, my clothes got tighter, and I was tired. Very, very tired. Going to bed around 11 every night, and dragging out of the bed next morning at 8:30 or 9. Not good.

This past Sunday, I decided I'd had enough. This week, I have been in smoothie overdrive. OH. MY. GOODNESS. They are soooo good. I crave them. I have been adding more and more greens each day. Yesterday morning I had a smoothie with honey, water, bananas, spinach, kale, avocado, ground flax seeds, and blackberries. I had steamed veggies and rice for lunch. For dinner, because they just taste so darn good and I wanted one so, so bad, I had another smoothie. Kale, spinach, wheatgrass, honey, water, bananas, and strawberries. I didn't love the taste of the wheatgrass, but seriously, after drinking that thing, I felt like I could leap a tall building in a single bound (isn't that how it goes?). I was BUZZING with energy.
That may not sound like much food, but I just can't tell you how satisfying and filling one of these smoothies are. Yesterday I...

Got up around 5 am, did a load of laundry, washed dishes, fed and dressed three children

Organized two closets and both freezers

Spent the day in Savannah, shopping for a summer dress

Came home, went straight to soccer practice

Cooked dinner. Bathed the baby. Did more dishes and laundry. Picked up the house.

After the kids were in bed, went to Charlotte's and helped her rearrange/move furniture.

Came home, stayed up doing nothing in particular until 1 am.

Woke up at 5 am, without an alarm, ready to meet the day!

Oh, and did I mention that my 2 year old vegetable hater LOVES them? And the 10 month old? The 5 year old likes the taste but says "Mom, salads are supposed to be on a plate, not in a straw". And since he will eat them on a plate, I am OK with that.

When the smoothies are bright green, we call them Shrek smoothies, or sometimes, The Incredible Hulk Smoothies. The boys take a sip, then require me to feel their biceps. :)
If the green color is a hang up for you, I recommend making a blackberry smoothie. It will be a beautiful deep purple. Or, just drink it in a dark glass so you don't see the color!

I make a blender full (sometimes two) in the morning, and pour them into mason jars and put them in the fridge. Then, whenever hunger hits, I can just grab one out of the fridge. So convenient!

Oh, and just as an aside, as of this morning, my weight is in the 150's again for the first time in THREE YEARS. You can't see me (and you should be thankful for that), but I am in my kitchen this morning doing a big time happy dance.

Seriously, try the smoothie.

If you need more than just my recommendation, read what these people have to say.

*Image from lazysupper on

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


I didn't get around to writing a post about earth day, but here are two links that express my feelings well. I found them both good reads.

Crunchy Chicken on jumping on the bandwagon

My Messy, Thrilling Life on Christians and the environment

*Image from woodleywonderworks on

Monday, April 14, 2008

BIRTHDAY MUSINGS Yesterday was my 27th birthday. Usually, I don't make a big deal out of my birthday. I don't expect a lot of fanfare, and the last few years, have even fought off negative feelings about getting older. Before any of you who are older than me roll your eyes, I would like to acknowledge that I don't think 27 is old. The negativity has been more about the fact that my life is FLYING by and I just can't believe how quickly it is going.

It seems to be a common thing, that the older we get, the more we dread another birthday. We have "over the hill" parties, when someone turns 40. We moan the fact that we are getting older...women especially, seem to have a hard time with this. It is OK to throw a man an "over the hill" party, but you had better be veeerrry careful throwing a woman one, and make sure she has a good sense of humor!

Anyway, I was thinking about all this in the days leading up to my birthday. In my head, I thought "27!!! That is only 3 years from 30!!!! Argh!!" But I began to examine my thoughts more closely. I was angsting about turning a year older. But what is the alternative? Um, being DEAD! When I celebrate a birthday, I am celebrating that I was given another year to LIVE!!! Would I rather NOT have another birthday, NOT turn a year older? Um, NO.
So, this year, I decided to change my attitude. From here on out, whether I have the privilege of celebrating one more birthday, or seventy, I am going to be THANKFUL, and GRATEFUL, and EXCITED. Another year older means I am wiser, have more memories and experiences, more time with my family, and I am ALIVE.

And on that note, my 27th birthday was great. Really great. In a simple, unfussy, glad-to-be-here great. I felt so loved and it was so encouraging to me. From numerous phone calls, emails, facebook messages, I was reminded how fortunate I am to have so many kind people in my life. My dear friend, Charlotte, rallied seven of my nearest and dearest to buy me these. I was thrilled! Not only by the shoes themselves (and the fun I will have tromping around in the yard in them) but by their generosity and friendship.
On Saturday night, Mom made my special birthday dinner, with all my favorite foods. Shrimp and Grits with sausage, sauteed mushrooms, white wine, and peach cheesecake. OH.MY.GOODNESS. It was wonderful.
Sunday morning, my two youngest woke up with fevers, so I stayed home from church with them. For a moment, I was tempted to throw myself a pity party "I have to stay home with sick kids on my BIRTHDAY". But, I snapped out of it, and had a wonderful, semi-relaxing morning with my boys. It was a gorgeous day, with sick little boys who wanted to be snuggled (who are usually MUCH too busy to take time for that!). My hubby came home from church with an adorable mini-cake, that my friend Amanda had baked for me. Green piped icing with "happy birthday Laurel" on top. It was delicious, and such a thoughtful gesture. In the evening, Matt stayed home from church to help me with the boys, and we took a walk together through the neighborhood. The boys stopped to pick me flowers and taste honeysuckle.

I am very bad about marking events and giving gifts. It is definitely not one of my strengths. But this birthday has really showed me how meaningful it can be to a person. My "love language" is not giving or receiving gifts...I enjoy them, but don't live for them. But, I can't tell you how much the wellies and the cake, and Mom taking the time to make a special dinner, and all the other things people did, meant to me. It was so, so encouraging. And it makes me want to be more mindful to do things, big or small, for my friends. I want them to feel really appreciated and loved. Like I did, on my birthday. I am going to be giving this more thought over the next few days. I love this idea. I find simpler gifts more meaningful. A gift that really shows that you pay attention to what the gift giver would like. I mentioned months ago to Charlotte that I would love to have those green Wellies. I was as touched by the fact that she remembered me saying that, as I was by the gift itself.
Do you have a specific gift or act of kindness that sticks out in your mind? What made it special?

*image from chicagohoneycoop on

Sunday, April 06, 2008

UPDATE: Thank you everyone, so so much, for your generosity! Friends near and far have loaned me, and some have even given me, books on my wishlist. I am now able to read at least half of the books on my list without having to buy them. What a blessing! Thank you so much! And please, let me return the favor! If I have something you would like to borrow, just let me know!
In the spirit of frugality, generosity, and no-shopping April, I thought I would ask a little favor of those in close proximity to me. This is my amazon wishlist. This is a list of some books that I would like to own, but many that I would just like to read. If you own any of these books, would you mind letting me borrow your copy(ies)? I will return it/them in the same condition in which I borrowed them, and would be oh, so grateful!

Just this week, two of the books on my wish list were loaned to me. My mother loaned me What is a Family by Edith Schaeffer, which I have wanted to read for quite a while, and my friend Teresa (and former owner of my little cottage in the woods) very kindly loaned me two of the books from the Not So Big House series, which I have enjoyed SOOO much!! Thank you both for your generosity!

Also, if you have a wish list, please send it to me, and if I have any of the books on it, I will be happy to lend them to you as well! I would love to participate in communal living on a regular basis, sharing resources, time, and energy. I know that isn't a realistic lifestyle option for most people, but I think we can recreate it, in a way that makes sense for us. I enjoy living in community in many areas of life: our church family, my extended family being in the same town, and even spending days with my friends and their children. Sharing of resources is one thing that I would love to do. I am wiling to go beyond books too!

What do you think of this idea? Do you like the idea of shared resources, or are you more guarded with your possessions? If you do like the idea, what sorts of things would you like to lend (or borrow)? What ways do you do this already? Is it easy and natural for you, or do you struggle to be generous with your belongings?

*Image from austinevan on

Saturday, April 05, 2008


Becky, at Boys Rule my Life, has tagged me, and since I didn't cooperate the last time she tagged me, I thought this time I should play along. :)

The Rules:
1. Link your tagger and list these rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog. things, random and weird...

1. When dreaming of being a mother, in college and when first married, I always pictured boys. Usually, I thought of middle school boys, playing baseball, eating big bowls of spaghetti, etc. I never envisioned small children, and never girls. Interesting, since I now have three boys.

2. Speaking of children, the hubby and I are in the beginning stages of adopting a child. Most likely a minority child, and possibly siblings, if the need is there. We have been praying and talking about this for several years, and are ready to move forward. Exciting and scary!

3. The day I delivered my second son, I was 100 pounds heavier than when I graduated from high school, six years earlier. You could say I pack on the pounds when I am pregnant. I am working on losing the last 30 now...

4. I was home schooled until the middle of ninth grade. I will be home schooling my children this fall. I am very excited about it.

4. I love foreign languages. I especially love latin and italian. So beautiful.

5. Since the hubby and I have been married, we have lived in 6 homes, had 15 cars, 5 jobs, and 3 children. Hopefully, we are going to stick with those numbers. I LOVE our house, have a minivan that holds all the kidlets, with room to grow. And the hubby has a job that is great and he just bought a 1981 Mercedes Diesel to run on veggie oil. Maybe we can practice some contentment :)

6. The hubby and I have had a date night every Monday for the last six years, except for the times that I have been in the hospital, giving birth. It is the highlight of my week and I highly recommend it!

7. Sometimes I feel guilty for being so happy. It doesn't seem fair that I have such a wonderful life. Just being an American, with the freedoms I enjoy, is a huge privilege.

I tag anyone on my blog list who is willing to play along. Let me know, so I can link to you!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

If you have clicked on the top button on my left sidebar (Buy Nothing Challenge), you may already know that I have committed to not buying anything unnecessary in the month of April. When I first made the commitment, I thought it would be no big deal...I really wouldn't have to change anything, because I am a naturally pretty frugal person, who doesn't enjoy shopping as recreation. But upon further examination, I have realized that isn't entirely true. Case in point: this morning, we were headed to the park for playgroup that is right next to the "dented can store". Oh, Dented Can Store, how I love thee. Just last week, my friend, Stacy, found eight boxes of the dishwasher detergent I use, Seventh Generation. It is $4.99 at Target. The "dented" had it for $1.15 a box. I had her buy them all for me. I now have about three years worth of dishwashing detergent! :)
So, back to my story. As I was driving down to the park this morning, I decided that I should stop in at the Dented first. I mean, it is about 15 minutes from my house, so I should go while i was already nearby, right?! Well, yes, except for the fact that as I was driving, I couldn't think of a single thing I needed. But, that is where my Dented addiction comes in. They get one truck a week, and unload it all week, so you never know when new stuff will be you (I) go alot, to try to catch the great stuff. Today, I found 17 ounces of olive oil (extra virgin, cold pressed, first quality, raw) for $2.50. I just paid $7.99 for 8.5 ounces of THE SAME STUFF, three days ago at Bi-Lo. Good deals to be had, I tell you. But the point is this: I couldn't think of a single thing I needed for our family before I went there, yet still managed to drop $50 while there (and it takes A LOT of stuff to add up to $50 in that place!).

My pantry is the most well stocked it has ever been. I have five jars of Organic, all natural peanut butter. Three jars of capers. Five jars of sun dried tomatoes. All good stuff, that I will use. Stuff that I stock up on when it is at the Dented, because you don't know when it will come around again. But, after taking stock of my pantry this afternoon, I realized that this is just another form of consumerism. It has crept back into my life, subtly. I have called it other things, rationalized it, making myself feel good about it. "I am saving money in the long run", I have told myself. "I had better buy them all, because who knows when they will have more!". And for awhile, when I was doing my experiment, those things were true. But I also had set boundaries for myself...with a goal of spending no more than about $50 a week.

So, with today being the first day of the challenge to not buy anything unnecessary for the month, I am setting some new, stricter parameters for myself. For my family, I define necessary as food and household items, at least for this month. We have plenty of clothes and no other purchases on the horizon that would fall into the "necessary" category. But, because food shopping is my consumerism trap, I am also going to:

1. Not shop at the Discount Food Store for the month of April.
This is going to be hard for me to stick to. But, we have so many pantry items, there is no reason for me to go there.

2. The only food shopping I will do is for fruits and vegetables at the produce stand. If we need milk, butter, or other items I can't get at the produce stand, I will go to Bi-Lo. Normally I choose to shop at IGA, which is locally owned, but it is right next to the Dented Can Store, and that is just too much temptation. So, for the month of April, I will make a shopping exception and go to Bi-Lo.

3. I am going to go through my pantry and freezer and plan out my meals for the month. I have not been cooking much lately, because I have been too lazy to plan my meals. But, this step really helps our home run more smoothly, so I will be doing this again. Plus, we are much less likely to eat out if I already know what is for dinner.

You might think that I am being a little rigid and making too many rules. "Why not just shop when and where you want to shop, not make such a big deal about it?" you might ask. Well, I could do that. But this is a system of checks and balances for me. Each time I have done a challenge like this, or an experiment, I have always learned valuable lessons about our spending habits. Sometimes I can get in a housewife rut, and challenges like this always leave me feeling excited again about doing my job better, and more efficiently. I guess if I were in the corporate world, this would be similar to my boss giving me a sales incentive. It's motivation. As an added bonus, we are planning several family trips for this summer, and could use the money we aren't spending in April to go toward our vacation expenses.

Are you doing this challenge? What are your thoughts on compacting? Is this something you would enjoy trying for your family?

*Image from R.A.M.O.N.E on