Archive for the ‘emotional eating’ Category

The Gift of Red

This blog is primarily about frugal living. That being said, the ability to spend less than we make is a many tentacled wonder. Some of my worst spending decisions come when I am tired, stressed and depressed. Most of the year I can glide by with canning, crafting, thrift shopping and humour. At this time of year the days are shorter, the seasonal affective shut down code is punched, and I feel the need to make it “the most wonderful time of the year”. (I will now have that ear worm playing in my head all day). I start to droop. I hit the drive thru or buy the packaged food. I sleep more, indulge more and spend more.  My ability to make wise financial decisions in compromised.
My emotional well being hits my bottom line.  
I realize that most of us intuitively know this but how does this help?  Knowing and dealing are very different. I will share one positive perspective that does help. There is a verse in the bible that says, “Put on the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness”. No matter what your beliefs there is truth  here.  Gratitude.  It is a key to taking control of your perspective.
You know the things that weigh you down but what about the things that buoy you up?
I was recently invited to take part in the 100 days of gratitude challenge. What if you kept a gratitude journal? Write down 5 things for which you are grateful. During the day think of different things to write. This will keep your mind on your blessings. Share these with chosen friends and family. Blog them or Facebook them or another outlet of your choosing. You need to dwell on them, express them and share them. It will shift your focus and give you a fighting chance.
I have a great deal for which I am grateful so I will start with the colour red. All my life I believed I could never wear red. I was told it did not suit me. A few years ago I met a man who saw me differently. As we walked through a local market he picked up a red scarf and said it would be beautiful on me. I started to object but he put it on me and said it was perfect and bought it for me. There were no mirrors except for his eyes. I felt timid at first but I wore the scarf every day. Eventually I started adding the colour into my wardrobe and felt joyous. He had given me the gift of the colour red and I am grateful.
I wish you all a season clad in the garments of praise.


Sleeping with the Enemy

This last week has been a nasty kind of hectic and left me bone weary.  This is usually the worst time for me to try and eat healthy and look after myself.  Money usually streams through my fingers and it all goes to food or the rough equivalent.  I know when I am exhausted and stressed I eat solely from the four basic food groups: drive thru, delivery, frozen and Pepsi.

I have had a shower that refuses to shut off on request, a backed up sink with a belligerent blockage, the tenant’s kitchen tap burst and his bathroom tap could not even rinse his toothbrush.  I had to bring paperwork to Canada Government Services, complete a type of audit for Revenue Canada and more forms for yet another branch of Federal Government.  The toughest part was that my lupus was flaring and created a titanium strength fatigue along with a wisp of the blues.  Each morning I felt like I’d just pulled two all nighters and couldn’t focus. Even dressing/getting ready can take up to an hour.  Sometimes just lifting the pots and pans were too much and I’d sleep for 14 hours at a stretch or more. This would usually be the perfect storm for bad eating.

 What came next was a surprise.  After spending Monday racing from place to place it was already 2:00 pm and I hadn’t eaten lunch.  I thought about the foods available at the local drive throughs and something happened.  I realized I didn’t want them.  I thought about what was in the fridge at home and my brain started putting together a meal. In fact it was a far superior meal to what I could have bought.  All during the drive home I expected that at the last minute I would think of something I would prefer but it didn’t happen.  I  found myself pulling into my driveway and going inside.  Now for the non-addicted ( as in addiction being used as a term to cover lazy and unhealthy behaviour that I routinely choose) this is normal.  For an exhausted stress bunny this was exceptional.  I found this pattern repeating itself for several days.  OK I did breakdown and get a small hamburger and fries at McDonalds at 10 pm one night but I had just met with my ex-husband’s new wife for the first time.  (She turned out to not only be beautiful but an amazingly nice and authentic woman.  I even forgave her for being so slender. )

I know I’m not out of the woods with stress eating but I think I am slowly turning my pantry into my go-to place for food.

Thursday- $5.34 spent on 4 litres of 1% milk for Josh.  Lunch was naan bread with sauce, cheese and Italian seasonings.  Dinner was lazy beef stroganoff on egg noodles with red peppers and a side of carrots.  Cinnamon buns for dessert.

Even though I’m getting to the end of the month and the end of the “Eat Your Pantry” challenge from the Year of Less I know I need a lot more practice before this becomes a permanent habit.  I still have a lot of goals yet to attain and I need the accountability so we will see where I can bring this to and be happy even if I am penny pinched. 🙂

thanks, Deb

Sept.21rst Christmas Tacos

I’ll admit it.  I tend to overthink things.  When I decide on something I want to get started now and work until it is finished.  “Hhm. To get in shape I need to be active for at least an hour a day.  That is 7 hours a week, 28 hours in a month, so if I work out for 12 days in a row I’ll be good for the year.”  OK I exaggerate a bit but not much.  I have learned to beware the zeal with which I approach new projects in favour of creating plans that have a bit more staying power.

With trying to do the “Eat Your Pantry” challenge from the Year Of Less blog I quickly spread out from saving money to making sure I hand made everything.  That came with a huge amount of left overs, as there are only two of us, many hours searching for recipes that used what I had,  and massive amounts of pots and pans to wash.   I quickly learned that not every night could be new culinary creations.  One night as I looked over a table brimming with hand pickled veggies, crockpot chicken, and a specialty salad with fresh made dressing I asked Josh what his favourite part was.  Without looking up he said, “The rice.”  The rice.  The stuff I measured out into a steamer. The plain white rice.  The counter was littered with every measuring cup and spoon, pots, bowls, knives and cutting boards I owned.  I’d be washing up an hour at least and he liked the rice. I got the message.

To be honest I should have got the message many years ago, almost eight years ago to be exact.  It was six days before Christmas that the three of us were moving into our new house.  There was little time to put up a tree, unload and get ready for the holidays.  In the middle of appliances that were not working and a phone line that didn’t get hooked up I realized it was Christmas eve and there was no way I was going to be able to put on a proper traditional Christmas dinner.  I reached into one of the bins and came up with a package of taco fixings.  I decided to chop up a red and green pepper and presented them to our son.  “Here we go sweetie. Christmas tacos!”  He was six and munched happily as I felt like a complete con artist.  I promised myself that the next year would make up for it.

The next year I did thing up in style with an actual table cloth, candles, candied yams, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, corn and of course the turkey.  We sat down at the table and my son looked at everything and hung his head.  “Josh, what’s wrong?”.  He looked up at me, his eyes filling, “Mom, where are the Christmas Tacos?  I’ve been looking forward to them all day,  It’s just not Christmas without them.”  I quickly promised we’d have some the next day and he perked up and we had a good dinner.  I had no idea that he’s remembered that and that making a memory didn’t need all the crazy making activity. Since then it has become one of our traditions.   The times that I’m the most stressed are a direct reflection on my expectations.  It is not just the work that causes the stress but the expectation I have of what I must create in order to for me to call it a success. Sometimes I am a royal pain in my own backside.

Sometimes simple is enough.  Sometimes simple is just better.  This thanksgiving I will be alone for the first time.  I thought about trying to create a big traditional dinner. Maybe I’ll just invite some people over for Thanksgiving tacos. Red and orange peppers make it perfect for Thanksgiving right?

May you all be richly blessed this thanksgiving and dwell on all that makes you truly grateful.

Sept. 15th Here there be dragons

I’ll admit it.  I’m finding that decluttering, saving money, simplifying, and trying to make things by hand do not all play nicely together

Doing it yourself can end up being much more expensive than buying a finished product.  Is saving money more important than shopping for local produce?  Is it better to thin out the wardrobe to live simply or keep the old clothes to save money?  That last question assumes that the clothes you let go of will ever see the light of day but who knows.  The gingham taffeta bridesmaid’s dress with the football player shoulder pads might one day be a big fashion hit, besides, it was stinking expensive. Those Hammer pants in leopard print could be adorable throw pillows. Maybe. OK lets skip that one, but it shows the problem. To declutter you get rid of the pants. If you are saving money you find a way to repurpose them.  To make something of them you will need to buy interfacing, thread, trim, a pillow form and any other embellishments.  You have made use of them and done it yourself but it cost you money to do it.  It also does nothing to simplify your space as you have just added another object.  Did you need another pillow?  Does it go with anything you have?

This whole process will hit rough waters without a clear destination.

I want to save money.  I want to eat healthy foods.  I need to simplify my possessions.  During this journey I ran into a few cross currents.  How can I let go of my crafting books as they hold the information as to how to make many items I might one day want.  I am a huge information junkie.  I used to say that I was an info. junkie but if you say it out loud you realize that that does not sound nice!  I become an avid hunter and gatherer when it comes to back issues of Rug Hooking Magazine, Polymer clay books, crocheting patterns, and material on mosaics, beading, wire jewelry and basketry.  I have done all of these crafts and tend to flit back and forth.  All of these crafts require tools and materials.  Did I mention mult-media sculpture?  I am proud of being able to create and sometimes even sell.  Art is a form of communication and these things are often our words and our language.  My desire to repurpose, to be able to make whatever I want has me huddled protectively over these possessions and it requires a plan so that these artistic impulses do not lead me in the opposite direction of my goals.  Tomorrow I will share an unexpected sandbar related to crafting.

In terms of my established goals I brought another two bags to the thrift store, left a full bag for the food back drive, picked a few end of season blackberries and had a great lunch of perogies, farmers sausage, onions and peppers.  Today was the day I let myself replenish some fruit for the week, and then bought myself dinner.  I didn’t need to.  I gave into an “I want that ” moment.  My trigger?  Doing errands by myself when I knew my son wasn’t coming home tonight. My need to reward myself with food is still strong and I’ve got a long way to go. I also gave into the nursery (plants not babies) that is closing out and bought a number of pretty plants for the front of the house.  I didn’t need but wanted pops of colour for the front.  I want to feel like I’m winning my own war of independence by not letting my divorce make me sad and invisible. See my bright and beautiful gerberas and know that I am still a woman to be reckoned with! 🙂

In trying to get your life together you need clear goals to help you navigate these uncharted waters because here there be dragons,

With dirt under her nails and Chinese food in her belly,  sincerely, Deb

Sept. 9th It’s like riding a bicycle. Where’s the medic?

Today started great.  Josh and I were pumped for church.  We were having our fall kick off and bbq after service. I don’t know what any of your experiences have been with church but today our pastor was delivering his message from an exercise bicycle.  From anyone else it would have been a cheesy gimmick but with Brad I knew it would be something relevant and on point.  I didn’t realize how it would apply to so many areas of my life.

What grabbed me were the words on the screen, “The Beauty of Discipline”.  He asked us about what we loved and hated about exercise.  He was sharing from Hebrews 12:11-15 and as he spoke I realized that the discipline of uncluttering, saving money, controlling our spending, donating our possessions and consuming less were all part of becoming more self disciplined. It is about taking back control of our lives and living purposeful and thoughtful ones.  Impulse buys, not budgeting and being overwhelmed by stuff is chaotic and discouraging.  Self discipline becomes a path to personal freedom.  His points were a road map to achieving this. He was helping us to work at identifying and overcoming the things that keep us from serious growth. Our lace up challenge was to identify the areas we need to tone and develop.

1. Get ready for stiff competition.  Be prepared that the runner’s high will not come right away.  There will be some aches and pains as we adjust.

2. Get a plan.  Set goals and recognizable mile stones so that you can see your progress.  This will also alert you for when you’ve gone off the path.

3. Get into a groove.  A habit takes practice and like anything worthwhile, it takes work.

4. Get into a group.  This is all about being accountable (like exposing yourself in a blog) or something like surrounding yourself with people with similar goals and check in on each other.

5.  Keep going.

These words came home even more sharply as I blew a tire on my own ride.    I’d done well with breakfast and lunch.  I knew that I had to prepare for the upcoming week so I carefully decided what I needed to buy.  I budgeted for the two jugs of milk, one for Josh and a lactose-free one for me.  I picked up the large bag of rice because I decided it was a staple and better value (didn’t take into account that there are only two of us).  I knew I needed butter and decided to pick up two (one would have been enough). Potatoes, check, and yogurt for Josh.  Once I got to the store I drifted. Josh prefers the yogurt tubes to the containers even though it is twice the price per weight.  I saw tinned corn on sale and rationalized that I was out and needed it for recipes (nothing was planned for them – broken rule #1 don’t stock the shelves again with items that aren’t essential).  Then I really went over the handle bars. A container of fried onions? Those are great on casseroles, pre-shredded tex mex cheese?  It’s on sale and I love it on scalloped potatoes, and finally the flat of Pepsi. Why? I love it and it gave me a bonus spin with the store promotional draw.  Oh darn.  I’m not even a gambler but I blew my budget for so many none essentials and the potential to win points.  Grand total?  $77.57.  Argh.

Plan- When I only need a few essentials I will stay with the car and send Josh in with the list and the cash.  Thank goodness for point 5.  I’ll dust myself off and apply some morale boosting polysporin to this crash and keep going.  Now if I could be more consistent with keeping my hands off of the leftovers at night I will be cruising again.

Sept.5 Eating my heart out

When I started this challenge it was really to see if I could find a way to free up some money to plan for the future.  What I didn’t expect was to deal with my whole attitude towards food.  After University there were the times where money was non-existent and you made do with whatever you could afford.  It created a feeling that making it meant that you could eat whatever you wanted whenever you wanted.  Even if it wasn’t good for you, even if it hurt you.  To not get to eat something was a punishment or failure.

I knew that decluttering my environment was one of the goals of the Year of Less but I didn’t realize I needed to declutter my thinking about food. Let the games begin!

Money spent today:  Food $3.76 – eggs and three carrots,  free-  an unexpected gift of Tollhouse cookies from my neighbour who has recently opened the first Tollhouse cookie store at Guildford mall. Thanks Tammy.

Other expenses:  $38.54 for supplies at Home Depot.  Part of living a frugal life is to preserve the things you already have and keep them in working order.  My rug hooking frame is starting to dry out and I needed paste wax.  I also am having paint peeling on the out side of my doorframes and railings. If I leave the raw wood exposed I will spend a lot more to replace it as it rots and warps.  When I was there I saw a wood stain/sealer that was a discard for tint and I picked that up for $1.  That will preserve a wood table in need of help. Yes I just bought myself more work.

Now to the pantry challenge.  I had some chicken legs and thighs, bone in, that were taking up room in the freezer. Problem? My son doesn’t like dark meat and I’m afraid of the bbq. Seriously, I know.  No problem. I’d decided to use a can of coconut milk and so with the two ingredients I finally found a great crockpot recipe. Problem?  Yes, as I prepped for the meal I couldn’t find the can.  Did I now vaguely remember giving it to a foodbank drive. Maybe.  Rats.  Normally I just would have gone to the store and bought one but I was going to honour the terms of the challenge and keep on searching.  Next the cream corn.  There were many casseroles listed. Hhm. Nope, I don’t have sour cream. Nope I don’t have creamed cheese. ( I thought I did but who knew that it hardened and went green if not used promptly).  I had saltines. Excellent or so I thought.  I opened a package that was still sealed. I popped one in my mouth just as the smell of paint thinner hit me.  There is no expiration date on the box but the chemicals released were horrible.  I will never again buy saltines based on what they evolve into. They were crisp and looked great but this was scary. Time to colour outside the lines. Tortilla chips would substitute and sauteed onions and red peppers would seal the deal. Yesterday I served cucumber slices with the dal so I needed a different taste.  I went with a rice wine vinegar and sugar mix, carrot curls and seasame seeds  for a sharp contrast to the bbq sauce chicken with pineapple, and scalloped corn casserole. Rice rounded it out and the left over cherries and plums made a great dessert.

My final project was to declutter.  Each week I take all my receipts and put the credit card ones in a box. It hold them but that is it. Out of sight out of my wallet. I decided I needed to be more organized so I created envelopes for each month that include all my receipts. This will help me track my spending and make me more accountable. OK enough for now.

September 3rd What’s for dinner?

Usually that question just makes me feel tired.  Today it was a challenge.

Today was the first day of the “Eat Your Pantry” challenge and it hits me where I live.  If I’ve ever bordered on being a horder it is my pantry.  Having it stocked makes me feel safe.  Knowing that I could survive if I had to, became more important than really using the food.

In truth I preferred to have someone else cook, and since it was just my son and me, that meant take out.  I rationalized that my lupus made me too tired to cook.  That was often true but the deeper truth was I wanted someone to look after me, make me feel good and take the load just for a little while.  Unfortunately that  someone was often some puberty challenged teenager who was either engrossed in the bad emo. poetry they were composing in their head or one who looked like her tongue ring had once again chipped another tooth. Either way I really wasn’t getting much from the expensive toxic mess I was ordering.

So why did I keep on going back like some stalker girlfriend hoping to find true love from an emotionally vacant player?  What’s that?  Was it emotional eating?  What makes you think that?  Just because I’ve phrased everything like it is a relationship is no reason to think, … “Please, please take me back.  No one carbonates their pop as well as you do.  The fries are perfectly salted even if you spilled half of them before putting them in the bag.  No, no!  That wasn’t a criticism. What’s that?  Oh, you were talking to your next order.  Of course, yes, sorry, I’ll fill out the survey.”

OK  Maybe a little mellow dramatic but not as far off as I’d like.  Often I did my eating out behaviour when my son was at school so I could make sure his meals were balanced but that resulted in wasted food or too much food on my waist.  I kept on shopping for food and stocking the cupboards but I was overbuying to feel safe.

Last week I read on Facebook that Americans throw out approx. 40% of the food they buy. It made me ill.  I didn’t want to think of the things that had gone bad because I hadn’t followed through on my meal plans.  I knew it was time to get serious.  My son deserved better, my finances couldn’t sustain it and I didn’t want to be this irresponsible anymore.

Today I started.  I looked in the fridge and saw three lone hotdog buns, four hamburger buns and half a jar of pickles.  I decided the hotdog buns would become garlic toast, with a little butter and garlic salt and the hamburger buns would be mini pizzas.  I’d found some old grated cheese in the freezer (that in a month’s time would have been freezer burnt and in the trash) and half a jar of homemade pasta sauce.  Perfect.  The pickles would help but I needed more fresh food.  I decided since this was the month of frugal living that free was the way to go.  I grabbed my bucket, braved the thorns and gathered some wild blackberries.

While in the freezer I realized I was being overrun with bananas that had been stored for future loaves of banana bread. I had three grocery bags worth of bananas. Saving them was costing me space I needed.  Thus for school tomorrow I made banana muffins. Part way through the process I found I only had one egg instead of the two in the recipe. I searched for substitutes and added more banana and one tsp. of baking powder.  Thanks mom.

Finally I made a homemade Dahl for the leftover tortilla chips in the pantry, using up a forgotten bag of red lentils.

I am done for tonight and tomorrow is another day.

expenses for Sept.3rd:  $2.15 – two red onions and one bunch cilantro