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oh black beauty, how i love thee.

the vitamix did it again.  she continues to impress me.  dazzle even.  this morning was rainy and cold.  perfect morning to sleep late.  but i am battling depressing hormones so that is not an option.  days like this are difficult and i just have to keep moving.

we have lots of fresh basil ready to be used from our garden.  we are BIG basil fans, the more the better.  i have never made homemade basil pesto however. so this year was the year.  i looked to the vitamix and voila a recipe for basil pesto.

i collect the large leaves that were ready to be clipped.  rinsed and spin dried them.  (while i am touting products that i love i would like to add my salad spinner! serious love.)

the smell of fresh basil quickly filled my kitchen and all that seemed so sad in my little world suddenly seemed a bit more distant.

to the vitamix i added:
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
3 cloves of garlic
2 cups of basil
3 tablespoons of pine nuts

first batch was a success. so i used the remaining basil to make two more batches.  i will wait until i use the pesto to add salt and pepper.  the longer the flavors meld together the stronger they will get and the less likely i will need anything additional.

because of the oils and cheese it isn’t necessarily the safest thing to can.  but pesto freezes really well so after a little photo shoot these beauties headed straight to our freezer.

can i also add my love for turquoise mason jars with flowers inside?  the husband surprised me one night when we picked these flowers from our yard and put them in my favorite jar.  sometimes he literally takes my breath away with the most simple gestures.  i am so lucky.

how sweet it is.

one of our three hives did not survive. the other two are doing well and we are crossing our fingers they make it through the winter, healthy.  sadly, we deconstructed the hive that failed.  we were fortunate to find leftover honey that they never used.

so we took apart the comb. and processed the honey.  this was a very simple way of straining the honey from the comb.  there wasn’t a lot so it didn’t make sense to find an extractor from our county beekeepers to borrow.  old school honey processing at its best.

a bowl for strained honey.  and another for the drained comb.  easy enough.  then came time to can the honey.  of course, there was lots of sampling.  you know, for quality assurance.

now, time to find something creative to do with the little bit of comb i have left over. while i decide, i think it is time to enjoy some warm oatmeal drizzled with a bit of our own honey.

2011. a year in review.

a couple years ago i started my “year in reviews” and soon after the holidays wrap up, i immediately look forward to taking a look back.  here is 2010.  2009.  2008.  2011 was another year full of laughter.  loss.  goals accomplished.  adventures.  growth.
last year the quote that i felt wrapped up the year was this, “never let your memories be greater than your dreams.”  this year i like this, “far from what i once was but not yet what i am going to be.”  i am more optimistic.  more healthy.  more happy than i have been in a very long time.  but i am not yet where i want to be.
i hope you all enjoy taking a look back with me.

january was a slow month around here.  we traveled for the holidays (max patch!) and were slowly finding our new normal.  looking back, i was still in my depression fog from our first miscarriage.  going through all these pictures and memories allowed me to recognize when i started to see the sun again.


i turned the big 30!  the husband surprised me with a birthday party that included so many wonderful friends including my 7th grade language arts teacher.  she is one of my most favorite human beings and i was thrilled to see her.

i made my “30 while 30″ list.

we started planning for chickens.

we traveled back to florida to see the last discovery nasa shuttle launch.  words can not describe the feeling watching the launch.  pure genius.  we were fortunate to stay with our friends which always makes traveling more fun!


march was a roller coaster filled month.  i continued to cry often about the baby i had lost.  not knowing how to move forward but searching for comfort.

we hosted dylan’s cousin for a fun weekend that included a homemade pizza party.

my etsy shop grew tremendously this month.  new date and initial pillows were added and were a huge success.

we started our 2011 garden.


we added two hives, bringing our total count to three. i love watching the husband work the bees.  he is so calm.  so patient.  beekeeping is an artform.

three chickens arrived!  the golden “girls” (one turned out to be a rooster and we still call her by her original name, dorothy).  here is rose on her first day with us.

the coop was built and the run was coming together.

this was the best year so far for snap peas and lettuce.  we ate very well thanks to our family gardener (not me).

we decided to start trying for another baby.  we were completely surprised that we immediately got pregnant.  we were thrilled.  i just knew this was suppose to be.  i had vivid dreams of holding my baby. i was so very happy.

we celebrated my brother-in-law at his white coat ceremony from pharmacy school.  we are so proud of both his fiance and his hard work.  we are looking forward to attending both their graduation and wedding this upcoming year.

we spent a day at a local farm.  learning about, well, farming.  we both were inspired.


may was filled with celebrating our ten year anniversary.

milo watching over our bee hives.

we added three more chicks.  the two buffs are lucy and ethel.  the black is cosby.

we started a live “peep” show.  blog stats grew.  the “peep” show was a big hit!

we went strawberry picking with a fun friend.  i have found my crafting soul mate and, together, we have decided to make 2012 the year of craft dates.  i am beyond excited.

we started suspecting the our dorothy was not like the others and was in fact a rooster.  we were right!


with the amazing help of our good friend david and both of our families, we finished the chicken run and  coop.  there was no way we could have finished without their help! 

very soon after we shared our pregnancy news with our family and a few friends we lost our baby.  another miscarriage.  another hole in our hearts that can never be filled.  i wrote about it here.  i remember sitting on the doctors table in pain both physical and emotional.  i go back to this vivid memory often.  the anger i felt that day propelled me to change my life.  it was a desire to change that i had never felt before.  this was the day i started on different path for my life.  this included dying streaks of my hair hot pink.
it is so hard to look at this picture.  not because of the 50 pounds that i have lost since.  this pictures shows a girl trying so desperately to not fall into a dark hole.  there is such sadness and heartbreak in my eyes and yet having the desperate clutch to reality.

the hens helped take our minds off our pain.  they moved outside and everyday was a new adventure for all of us.


july brought lots of workouts.  changes in eating habits.  changes in our life habits.  we found a soccer field and played together.  for fun.  weigh in mondays began.  workout lists were created.

the chickens enjoyed afternoon treats.  blueberries were by far the favorite with yogurt as a close second.

reward trips were planned.  first 30 pounds was a trip to boston to see my beloved red sox play the yankees.  my favorite city and favorite team with my favorite guy.  motivation to workout everyday was in place.

i relived middle school for one night.  new kids on the block concert in my hometown.  it was a magical night.


i joined a book club.  our monthly monday evening food, gab, and book discussions were just what i needed this year.  i adore these ladies and look forward to what 2012 brings in our discussions.

the chickens continue to grow and thrive.  grass clippings are such a treat.

the first picture of myself that i started to notice weigh loss.

five year wedding anniversary was celebrated.

my sweet boy.

we canned sauerkraut this year from our abundance of cabbage in our garden.


i started running.  i started to fall in love with running outside in the rural county where we live.  

my first goal of 30 pounds lost was met.  we started our seven day travels from our home, to boston, ending in tennessee, and then back home.  

we visited friends that live in boston.  we caught a game.  we sat at the green monster during batting practice.  we walked on the field and i stole some dirt.  we rode a boat.  we ate amazing food.

we found pure happiness.

we then traveled to tennessee to celebrate my grandfather’s 90th birthday.  it was amazing to see the entire family come together with such unconditional, kind love.  it is rare and we appreciated every second.

when we came home our chickens welcomed us back with their first egg!  and they haven’t slowed down since.  it is december and we are still getting 3 to 5 each day!


october started many home projects.  we painted our kitchen.

went to our 11th state fair together.

the eggs just keep coming.

we had a little photo shoot with a dear friend of mine.  to celebrate our weight loss.  to celebrate our choices.  this was such a difficult year but also one of the best.  everyday we chose to actively live each day.


we completed the dining room remodel. i love my dining room. it is so simple and so perfect for us.

we celebrated my granny’s 90th birthday with an ice cream party at her house.  we told dirty jokes and laughed all the way from our head to our toes.  it was just lovely.

the groomer always makes us laugh with the bows she puts in martha stewarts hair.  too funny.
we hosted thanksgiving for my family.  my best friend, who i am lucky enough to also call my cousin, brought his entire family (husband and four boys) up from georgia.  words don’t describe how incredibly happy i was having them here.   

on thanksgiving the husband and i ran our first race, together.  the gallop and gorge 8k.
las vegas was reward trip number two.  20 more pounds lost. i love this man.  i love travel.  i love that he has supported me fully with everything i needed to succeed.  we both have made such huge changes in our lives while simultaneously growing together.  

december brought a surprise birthday party for my husband. 

many christmas parties and festivities.

lots of cuddling by the wood stove and christmas tree light.

we hosted our families this year.  pinatas were a hit.

2012 …
looking ahead we have a reward finale trip to plan.  a wedding in chicago which will include many blues  clubs per the husbands request.  another 90th birthday celebration in tennessee, this time for my grandmother.  a family trip to new york city to see the yankees and red sox play.  a possible volunteer trip to haiti. hardwood flooring project for the entire home. and many, many unknown adventures.
we have learned that each year is a roller coaster.  there is sadness.   people we must goodbye to.  dreams that die. but there is so much goodness.  so much joy.  so much to be grateful for.  i am so thankful that i am wrapping up this year with the health of my husband by my side, my sweet cat milo, our pups sam and martha stewart, and all six chickens doing their thing.  
simply put.  we are optimistic about the upcoming year.

weekly menu

with my humble attempts at getting back to a new “normal,” here is our weekly menu!  all dinners are under 400 calories per serving. 

breakfast:  protein shake, banana
lunch: brown rice, steamed broccoli, 1/3 cup parmesan cheese
dinner:  out and about.

breakfast:  protein shake, banana
lunch:  oatmeal with a fun topping
dinner: protein shake, greek yogurt with almond butter and granola

breakfast:  protein shake, banana
lunch:  fruit smoothie
dinner:  spiced chops with mango-mint salsa, brown rice

breakfast:  protein shake, banana
lunch:  oatmeal with topping
dinner:  broiled flank steak with tomato topping, sauteed spinach, brown rice

breakfast:  protein shake, banana
lunch:  leftover steak, spinach, rice
dinner:  sandwich night.  for me turkey, swiss, whole grain bread. easy peasy.

breakfast:  oatmeal with almond butter and banana
lunch:  most likely out and about
dinner:  grilling out!  chicken, mango kebabs. so delicious! served with brown rice.

brunch:  blueberry, whole grain pancakes.  plain for me.
dinner:  my favorite stuffed peppers.  i don’t add meat but opt for black beans instead. super, super good.

and because i am so excited about our first attempt at making homemade sauerkraut a picture from last nights dinner.  it was our first sampling and it was pretty darn yummy!  it probably still needs another week and then just perfect.  and for all you gluten free folks, i am IN LOVE with the udi’s brand.  their whole grain sandwich bread and hot dog buns are really good.  really.

so what will you all be eating this week?  where do you find low calorie recipes?  cooking light is my go to source but i would love to hear your suggestions!

it is time.

what time is it when your gardening husband has brought 30lbs of cabbage into your kitchen …

and then ordered one of these huge fermentation pots …

time to make sauerkraut!

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