Thursday 24 June 2010

Signs Of Life

A friend of mine (Kayecee over at Life Over Here) posted this to Facebook today, and I instantly knew I had to share it here. All The Wrinkled Ladies by Anita Renfroe, although seemingly tongue-in-cheek, could actually speak to a lot of women and how they are feeling about their bodies.

I was overweight, seriously overweight, for more than a decade. Once I lost the weight and saw my body once again minus almost 140 pounds in excess fat, I noticed some changes. Some of the changes in my body are the result of having carried and then lost so much weight. Some of the changes are the result of having given birth to seven beautiful children. Some are simply the results of aging.

But even as I work to eradicate some of the changes, as I try to firm up as much of the muscle underneath the loose skin as I can, as I hide my skin from the damaging rays of the sun behind sunblock and hats, and I work to maintain my weight loss, I know that some of the changes are permanent. And I'm okay with that.

The wrinkles next to my eyes and near my mouth are signs that I have had laughter in my life. The stretch marks that crisscross and reach across my belly like a road map are signs that my belly made itself into a temporary home for each of my children before they were ready to come out into the world. The tiny bits of grey showing up along my hairline are a sign that I am no longer a child and have the experience that comes with age.

My friend Barb from Barb's Bookshelf, said it best in her post about True Beauty when she wrote,

True beauty is not simply what’s on the surface. When you feel good about yourself and who you are, when you carry yourself with confidence and self-acceptance, that makes you beautiful. Beauty is in the mind, not in the body.

(I've borrowed this quote from her before, because it is so appropriate and reflects something that I believe in very strongly.)

So are you accepting of your body as it is? Or are you waiting until you achieve that ever-elusive, perfect body?

Tuesday 15 June 2010 - Review

I had the good fortune of getting some free goodies from American Soda in exchange for reviewing them here. I got in touch with them for the opportunity because I really love shopping with them.

As many of you know, I am a displaced American. I was born and raised in California, but am and have been living in the UK for over eight years now. One of the difficult things in living so far away from home is that I miss a lot of the food that I used to be able to get back home but is not available in stores here. That's where American Soda comes into the picture.

At American Soda, I can buy many of my childhood favorites, such as the ones sent to me for review: Lucky Charms cereal, Hershey's chocolate, Angel Food Cake Mix, Nabisco Honey Maid Graham Crackers, Jell-O Pudding and Diet Mug Root Beer.


Lucky Charms is in no way, shape or form a health food. It is very high in sugar. But I remember it from my childhood, and I loved it as a child. My children, who are notoriously picky when it to comes to cereals, all love Lucky Charms too. Most of the time, instead of giving it to them for breakfast, I just put a small amount of it into a small bowl or cup and let them munch on it dry as a snack. For me, since I believe in moderation and in allowing myself to eat small amounts of the things I love, I occasionally allowed myself (while the box of Lucky Charms lasted) a half-serving which equalled 55 calories (3 syns). This way I catered to my cravings but didn't ruin my diet. (I lost a pound this week, so it didn't hurt my weight at all.)

To see what my youngest four children thought of the cereal, in their own words, go to Children Review's blog post on the subject.


My favorite of everything sent to me was the Diet Mug Root Beer. Even in the US, it is sometimes hard to find the diet version of Mug Root Beer. And buying root beer of any kind in the UK is nearly impossible. Mug is my favorite and one of the things I sorely missed when I moved out here. I missed it so much that on the rare occasion when a family member from the US flew out for a visit, I always made sure they'd bring a 12 pack or 24 pack of Diet Mug Root Beer with them! I love to sit and relax with a can of Diet Mug Root Beer. I'm just sad that they only sent me one!

I wanted to mix some vanilla extract and sweetener into some 0% fat Greek Yogurt and freeze it, then try adding a scoop of it to a glass of my diet root beer to see how close it came to tasting like a traditional root beer float, but they only sent me one can, and I drank it straight away. For people on low carb diets, they can add some cream to a glass of diet root beer and get the same foamy flavor of a root beer float as they would get with a traditional one. And for people who prefer their root beer caffeinated, American Soda also sell Barq's.


As for the graham crackers, they are whole grain and low in fat. My kids love to eat them plain or to make s'mores out of them using marshmallow cream and Hershey's chocolate and then heating it for about ten second in the microwave, but I didn't have marshmallow cream (although that too can be bought at American Soda), so they didn't get to do that. What I like to use the graham crackers for is to make a healthier version of pie crust. It's especially tastey made into the crust of a healthy pumpkin pie (I use the pumpkin pie I buy from American Soda) or a healthy cheesecake. You just add an ounce of light margarine or low fat spread to about ten crumbled and crushed graham crackers, mix it up and spread it into the bottom of a pie tin. Then refrigerate it for a few hours and it's ready to add your pie or cheesecake filling to.


The Angel Food cake mix I have bought in the past. Last time I bought it, I made Angel Food cupcakes, topped them with frosting made with greek yogurt, quark, sweetener and vanilla extract, and then added some strawberries to them. I took them to one of my Slimming World meeting's Bring & Try nights, and everyone loved them! I made 40 cupcakes with one mix, and they were only about 2 syns a cupcake because Angel Food cake is fat free. And an added bonus is that my children also loved them!

I have yet to find any cake mixes in UK stores that are fat free like this one is! Angel Food cake is a very traditional American cake that can be found at almost every supermarket in the US, either pre-baked in their bakery section or in mixes for you to make yourself. It makes a great cake for making a healthy strawberry shortcake.


With the Betty Crocker Angel Food Cake mix sent to me this time, I plan on making a slightly different dessert. I was also sent Jell-O Fat Free Chocolate Instant Pudding mix. I'm planning on making the cake, cutting it into pieces, putting the pieces into bowls and then pouring some of the chocolate pudding over them. When I get around to making them, I will take some photographs and add the recipe to my recipe site.


I was also sent something that I have never tried before. American Soda sent me a small bag of Sugar-free Hershey's chocolate minies. Robert tried one and seemed to like it. I loved it, although I did think it tasted a bit more like dark chocolate than milk chocolate, and I noticed the texture was just a tiny bit more waxy. My friend Helen tried one and she said she loved it. They were only 31 calories a piece, so that would be about 1 1/2 syns each on Slimming World.

When it comes to interacting with their customers and being responsive to their customers requests, American Soda is one of the few companies I have found that really gets it! They are on Twitter and on Facebook, and in both places, they offer coupons, respond to customer requests, and generally show truly wonderful customer service. There is another on-line company where I can buy my much-missed American goods here in the UK, but they are not nearly as interactive, and in this way, American Soda has made itself stand out.

Keep an eye on Skinny Dreaming Recipes over the next week as I will be adding some recipes created using these products as soon as I can make them and take photos of the results.

*I received a product for this review on behalf of the company. All opinions are solely my own. Others who may use this product or service may have different opinions.*

Friday 11 June 2010

Finding Time For Walking Despite A Busy Schedule

Walking With Daddy sm1

Walking is one of the easiest ways to exercise throughout
the day. Experts recommend taking 10,000 steps a day for optimal health benefits. You don't have to set aside a large chunk of time and go out for a long walk to get your walking fitness done. There are some easy ways to fit walking into a busy schedule.

Park at the far end of the parking lot when going to work or shopping. You can even park a block away. The few minutes that it will take you to walk that little bit further will increase the amount of steps you take for the day without eating into a large bite of your time.

Use the stairs. If a building you work in or a store you visit has a choice between stairs or elevator, take the stairs. You'll get a quick boost to your heart rate and help get more of your daily steps completed.

Take short ten-minute walks. Just go outside and walk around the block or walk around the building you are working in. Doing this a few times a day adds up to a lot of walking without interfering with your other daily activities.

Walk early in the morning or late in the evening. Setting aside time to walk before your day has begun or once your other activities have been completed means you can spend more time just walking and enjoying the sights around you.

Walk your children to school. Cars can be a hazard near schools anyway, so take the simple approach and walk your children to school. It will help with traffic congestion around the school and will benefit your children’s health as well as your own. If you live too far away, just drive part of the way to the school and walk the rest.

Wednesday 9 June 2010



A cookbook arrived in the mail today. It was addressed to me and it came from The Book People, a book company that I have ordered from in the past. It did not say who bought it and had it sent to me, and I don't remember ordering it. It must have been a gift from someone as the price was zeroed out on the ordering form. It was a really pleasant surprise!

The book is a cookbook called Kebabs & Other Light Grills. Robert and I cook a lot, so I had a look through the book. Most of the recipes look very healthy and light, so I will definitely be cooking from it soon!

I'm only mentioning it here to let you know that there may be some new kebab recipes being added to my recipe blog soon. (I will add the recipes that we try out, if they are healthy enough.)

Thank you to whomever sent this to me!