Posted in Whole 30

Day 27 – Whole 30

When your mom is your friend, you get to have sleepovers with her. Mine came yesterday to help me clean the house and prepare for the dinner party. We stayed up late putting the kitchen back together and chatting with my daughter when she got home from work. Then, we got up this morning to work in the yard. We trimmed and trimmed and trimmed bushes and hedges. Then, we planted three plants I had in pots for far too long.

I think it is super cool that planted in the soil around my home, I have flowers and herbs that members of my congregation have snipped from the flowers and herbs in the soil around their homes to share with me. I have Lenten Roses right outside my door (from one friend), and now next to them, I have lemon thyme and rosemary (from another friend). My brother brought a clump of chives from my parents’ place when they lived in Maine several years ago, and last year he gave me a pot of them for planting in my yard. It only took me a year to get them in the ground!

What does any of this have to do with Whole 30? Well, the herbs that are right outside my front door, I regularly pick/clip to use in Whole 30 ranch dressing and other recipes. And I also think it is fantastic that on Day 27, I have hardly anything to say about Whole 30. It’s just the way I’m eating. I am simply not deprived. I eat exquisite foods. It was not hard to throw a dinner party while staying Whole 30 compliant. My mother and I had this lunch (pictured) today. Steak from last night’s dinner, asparagus, pineapple, and those weird fruits in the bowl with the pineapple are lychees (peeled and pitted). They are some of my favorite fruit in the world.

Now, don’t freak out that there’s more fruit than veggies on my plate. Last night, I had loads of veggies. I’ll do so again this evening for dinner. But, when you cut up a pineapple, and it is as sweet as any pineapple you have ever had, you eat it. You savor and enjoy it. That is the very stuff that makes life full! And when you have access to lychees, you eat them because abundant life is the goal. God has designed me to have a deep and wide affinity for lychees, partly because they are simply delicious – and partly because they make me think of my childhood in Madagascar, picking the prickly fruit from the tree, peeling it, popping it in my mouth, nibbling around the pit with my teeth and tongue, then spitting out the pit…and reaching up to pick the next one. If I make it to Day 27 of eliminating all grains, dairy, sugar, legume, alcohol, and chemicals, and you try to make me feel guilty for eating two servings of fruit…you will fail.

Posted in Whole 30

Day 26 – Whole 30

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about having a monthly meal with my dear friends – and wondering if I should ask them to cook Whole 30 for me or just having them bring what they want and me eating what I could. They brought the most delicious Whole 30 meal to my house last night!

I threw some steaks on the grill and some chicken in the oven, so the protein part of the meal was covered. They brought baked potatoes, a GORGEOUS strawberry, balsamic, and almond green salad, and asparagus cooked with bacon! For dessert, we had the most gorgeous berries with freshly whipped cream (I skipped the cream). I felt weird about taking pictures of everything, so I didn’t. But, now that I’m writing this blog about their gorgeous fare, I wish I had pictures of them.
I set my table for my girlfriends, and I included this funky candle I picked up at a yard sale. I kind of played around with it, learning how it works, how quickly it burns, etc. last night because these particular girlfriends don’t think me rude if I’m picking at the wax on this new, odd candle as we remain at the table long after the meal has been consumed – loooong afterward, telling stories, asking for prayer, laughing, and crying. These moments are precious, precious, precious.

One of my girlfriends said this cool candle is called a Courting Candle, and I looked it up. Each inch of this candle burns for about 20 minutes, so you pull up 3 inches of the candle to have a one hour visit. When the candle had burned down, the parents said, “Time to go home!” One hour would never be a long enough visit with my dinner party friends from last night.

Posted in Whole 30

Day 25 – Whole 30

Two kind of amazing things:

  1. I can’t remember what Pepsi tastes like. I mean, I know it is bubbly and sweet…but I can’t really remember it. Huh.
  2. I kind of didn’t recognize my fingers this morning. I mean, I watched them reach for a tea bag, and it struck me that they didn’t look like mine.
    Mine are pudgy, and the knuckles are really big. The hand in this picture may just look like a regular middle aged hand to you. Its fingers are kind of short and stubby…but they are slim-ish, and they don’t look like mine. I really wish I had taken a picture like this 25 days ago, but it didn’t occur to me to take one of my flat hand.

The last couple of days have been pretty fun with regard to Whole 30 foods. Yesterday, I made the Shepherd’s Pie recipe that Jen Hatmaker shared, but I traded the mashed sweet potato topping for white mashed potato topping. I also skipped the weird flax issues…it’s perfect with some tomato paste and a splash of Whole 30 compliant beef broth to make the sloppy-joe-textured beef mixture. I also used ghee instead of butter in the mashed potato part. Here are some pictures of that process. It was absolutely fantastic.
Sage loved it, too. I think we loved it because it wasn’t trying to be anything else. I guess the flax stuff was trying to be a thickener…but we didn’t do that and didn’t need it. So, we just had a fabulous ground beef and veggie goulash kind of thing with mashed potatoes on the top. Like it said, Yum!


And this evening, I came home quite late for dinner. Grabbed one of my salad containers that I really better eat today because I packed it on Monday evening – and it’s Thursday – and headed to the back yard with the dogs for some mellow meal time on a gorgeous North Carolina evening. These poor dogs do not know if the food I have is anything they would like to eat at all. They never know. They just always want what I have. I could have a bowl of raw onions, and they would sit by me, just hoping I would share. Zero times have I given them food from the table. Zero times has their patient begging been rewarded. And yet…this is who I shared my mealtime with this evening: (Roxy, in the back, has much better manners than Eleanor Rigby, who is 1 year old, and still learning about not being in my face when I eat.)


Posted in Whole 30

Day 24 – Whole 30

You know how people who have changed their eating habits or started taking vitamins or drinking shots of wheat grass or whatever always say, “My energy went through the roof!” Actually, the Whole 30 books say this, too.

Not for me.

Now, I’m not saying I have less energy – not at all. But, what I think is happening is I am more aware of my high and low energy periods throughout the day because they are not chemically enhanced or the result of sugar withdrawal. They are just my normal patterns of energy and fatigue.

I just told my daughter how awesome it is that I can now take naps in the afternoon. And she asked, “Is that great? I thought you were supposed to have more energy when you eat well and stop eating all the carbs and chemicals and such.” It made me really think. I’m not cheating on Whole 30. Seriously. I’ve been deeply committed to this whole thing, and I’m eating plenty of protein. So, I really don’t think it’s the menu or the way I’m eating it that’s making me tired in the afternoons.

Here’s what I do think is happening: I have always been tired in the afternoons. Always. But, 47, 46, 45 (you get the idea) and I just slammed a Pepsi and got on with the day. Just push hard enough, and you can get through the afternoon. But 48 and I are paying attention to lots of things besides food. We are feeling the fatigue – and without the option of a Pepsi or a carb-y snack to fuel our push – we are sitting down on the sofa for a while. And since our sofa is a recliner, we pull that lever and feel the footrest lift our tired feet, and we let our neck relax until our head rests on the big, soft, pillowy part of the sofa. Then 48 and I close our eyes to test our fatigue. If our eyes are kind of stinging when we close them, if our stiff neck feels better at rest, then we silence our phone and stay there for a while. We are simply amazed that our brain will quiet and our breath will slow, and we will sleep for only 30 minutes – and feel great!

That’s brand new. Seriously. I have never been able to take a nap that is less than 90 minutes of sleep. And since it always took me 30 minutes to get quiet enough to fall asleep, it meant 2 hours in the middle of the day. Who has that?! So, I Pepsi’d instead of napped.

Here’s a weird-angled selfie of me in my spot on the sofa as I write this blog post before I close my laptop, silence my phone, and rest a while before I go back to the church office for several hours.

Yes, that is a GIANT stuffed bear in the middle of the living room. Our dog, Eleanor Rigby, loves that bear (whose name is Father McKenzie, of course). Also, yes, this pastor has a pew in her living room; her daddy shortened a long pew for her one day a long time ago. She loves churches, pews, worship, and her daddy, so she adores that pew.

Eleanor Rigby met Father McKenzie when she was 7
weeks old. Through the months, she napped on him. And now that she is one year old, she still likes him – but she mostly likes to chew on him, so we tossed him over the baby gate into the living room the other day to save his life.. and there he still lies.

Now, it’s time to hit “Publish” on this blog and close my eyes a while.





Posted in Whole 30

Day 23 – Whole 30

Today could/should have been a difficult Whole 30 day. I was at a conference all day, so I had to pack all my snacks and lunch. 47 and I loved conferences! We packed every pocket in our backpack or computer bag or purse (and definitely our jacket pockets) with mints and candies and pretzels and goldfish crackers. We always brought enough to share – because that’s half the fun of snacking; reaching out to offer a friend some Skittles is a little bit magic.

48 and I brought small oranges, maybe mandarins? to our first conference. (They were too big to be clementines.) But, it turns out that offering a friend a slice of an orange just doesn’t produce the same magic. So, I simply snacked when I
was hungry, ate my salad for lunch while my tablemates ate creamy scalloped potatoes and decadent desserts, and drank the tea I brought to keep me busy and awake in the meeting. It was just…different. Not being the girl with a bag full of snacks felt really different. No one but me noticed, I suppose, but something kind of shifted with regard to that today.

How many times have I offered Skittles to someone who is really trying to watch their sugar intake?

How many times have I wandered the room on a break, offering (nutritionally empty) food to those who really aren’t hungry?

Today, I had a container of cashews with me, and I did find myself offering some to my friends – and they were happy to munch a handful of cashews during one of our breaks. It wasn’t quite the same as decadent treats like some fine chocolate – or silly treats, like Star Wars character Pez dispensers! It felt different today, and I guess I’m paying attention to my motivation for bringing snacks for the gang…when no one even asked me to.

Peach tea is my thing this week. I put 4 Celestial Seasonings Peach tea bags in a 2 quart pitcher, fill it with hot water (my tap water gets very hot), and let it steep for…oh, I don’t know…however long it takes for me to go off and move the laundry from the washer to the dryer, realize the dryer is still full from days ago, turn it on for a few minutes to fluff it up again, fold the laundry from the dryer, put the stuff from the washer in the dryer, then put in a new load in the washer, but check my bedroom for any dirty clothes that color, then add those clothes in, then go pee because…because 48, I guess, and when I’m in the bathroom with the door closed, find a shirt hanging on the back of the door that should be added to the washer, go add the shirt, but return to the bathroom because when I was in there I remembered something I needed to do – like get more toilet paper or something – but there’s plenty of that there, so it has to be something else, and if I just stand here a minute, I’ll remember it, but standing there in front of the mirror reminds me that I need to pluck those hairs on my chin that I felt while I was sitting with my chin in my hand today at the conference, but I think I took the tweezers into my room, so I go in there to look, and when I’m there, I remember that it wasn’t chin hairs that I was trying to remember in the bathroom, it was Qtips, so I go to the hall closet to get some more Qtips for the container in the bathroom, and the closet has things stacked and shoved and really needs to be organized, so I know what I have and stop buying things I already have, things like little circle bandaids and Neosporin and dental floss, which makes me think about how I really need to call the dentist to get an appointment, but I keep forgetting, and I’m pretty busy going to conferences and such, which reminds me how much I loved my tea today (in my metal cup that keeps it cold for hours!) at the conference – oh yah! my tea! So, I go to the kitchen to check it, and it just needs a bit more time, so I just run out to the shed to get a roll of paper towels…

And when it’s steeped, I put the tea bags in the compost bowl and put frozen peaches in the pitcher. Somehow, the tea sucks all the sugar out of the peaches, and it makes the perfect, barely sweet peach tea.

Perfect, I tell you!

Posted in Whole 30

Day 22 – Whole 30

This post might be long-ish because I did and noticed a few things today.

First, I slept very late after not having felt well or slept well yesterday. So, my meal times were wonky today. I didn’t get into the church office until 11:00, and by 1:00 or so, I was getting a pretty serious headache. No kaleidoscope vision, just pain like a regular headache, but odds are it’s connected to yesterday’s health. So, I ran to the grocery store to stock up for the week, since I hadn’t done that this weekend when I was away – and rushed home for some Excedrin, healthful food, lots of water, and some closing of my eyes (though I wasn’t able to sleep).

When my head felt mostly better, I putzed around in the kitchen for a while, chopping veggies and prepping things for this week.

I have an all day meeting to go to tomorrow, so I need a hearty lunch AND some munchies with me for when everyone else is heading over to the pastry table or reaching for the candy they have on our tables or whatever.

Here’s my work space with all the veggies and such I was working with.

And here’s my refrigerator today. I know it looks a lot like the picture I posted on a different week of Whole 30, but I’m showing you today’s picture because if you are here reading about Whole 30 and wondering what it takes…this is what it takes. Some significant preparation each weekend to make
the week work.



While the soup simmered and the dishwasher swished and hummed, I sat with my laptop on the sofa and answered work emails and made a list of things I need to accomplish this week.

But, I didn’t spend too much time on the laptop because my headache did not leave quickly or easily.

I noticed three things today that are directly related to Whole 30:

  1. The sweater I wore is usually very tight on my arms, but today it was loose.
  2. When I stood sideways in front of the mirror putting my sweater on, I noticed I have less back fat.
  3. And, seriously, I never ever have fingernails. But, today, I noticed that my nails are not breaking like they always do when they get any length at all. (And when I took a picture of them, I noticed that all the dishes I washed today made for dry hands in need of some attention.) So, healthful foods make for stronger fingernails, too, I guess.
Posted in Whole 30

Day 21 – Whole 30

I’m posting Day 21 on Day 22 because yesterday was a weird health day. I don’t really think it had anything to do with Whole 30 foods or habits – it was just an off day.

I was staying with friends, and I had a decent breakfast of eggs/sausage cups, watermelon, and my love-it-so-much tea at about 8:00. And I was preaching at their church that morning, so I had a snack between the 9:00 and 11:15 services. I had a Chomps beef stick and lots of water and a box of raisins. So, it wasn’t a huge snack, but it hadn’t been that long since I had eaten, either. But, I started getting the kaleidoscope vision that I get with migraines. It didn’t hurt, but I wasn’t really able to see my manuscript for preaching at the next service. So, my dear friend, Tim, went to Target to get some Excedrin for me. And when it was time for me to preach, my vision was clear, and all was well.

I had a Whole 30 compliant lunch of a chicken thigh, broccoli, and watermelon, and got on the road back home – about a 4 hour drive (with all my potty stops!).
But, I had to stop about halfway through the trip to have a nap! (I never do that.) I just parked at a gas station, locked my doors, reclined my seat, and fell immediately asleep for about 30 minutes. When I woke up, I felt great and drove the rest of the way home. Between Charlottesville, VA and High Point, NC, I didn’t stop for a fast food meal – as would be my normal habit. I ate an apple, a serving (or two!) of macadamia nuts, a couple of fruit leather snacks, and another Chomps beef stick…and I drank a lot of unsweetened tea. And it was only a 4 hour trip, so it didn’t make sense that when I got home, I felt dizzy and vertigo-ish. I didn’t feel well enough to stand around in the kitchen making a hearty meal, so I put together this snack plate from containers in the frig, sat on the sofa with my dogs-who-would-really-like-to-share-all-the-food-I-ever-have-on-a-plate, and watched the movie, Bridget Jones’ Baby.

I still didn’t feel great by 10:00, so I just went to bed without blogging. Then, I had one of my way-too-familiar night’s sleep where I can’t fall asleep until midnight, wake up at 4:00, lie there wishing I were asleep until 6:30, then fall asleep again (in the deepest, best kind of sleep I ever get) until 10:00. I really am so lucky to have an amazing office administrator who doesn’t mind when those days come, and I don’t get into the office until 11:00. But, I haven’t had one of those nights the WHOLE TIME I’ve been on WHOLE 30.

So, like I said, yesterday was a weird day for health.

Posted in Ordinary Holiness, Whole 30

Day 20 – Whole 30

I’m staying with dear friends this weekend.

The dearest of friends.

The kind of friends you can call up and say, “Hey, when I come stay with you, I need to have a special diet.” And they say, “Okay! Just tell us what you need!” And they make Whole 30 compliant chili and fantastic egg/sausage cups…and you feel welcome and nourished and whole while you are in their home.

I pray you have such friends. I really do. Every single human deserves safe places inhabited by safe people with nourishing food, understanding hearts, and similar enough senses of humor that you can make each other laugh and laugh.

The “courage” bracelet I’m wearing in this picture arrived in the mail a couple years ago when my life was very dark, and it was hard to breathe. A woman I knew at a church I used to attend sent it to me. We weren’t great friends, but I liked her very much. She had heard that life was hard, and she thought to buy this bracelet and send it to me out of the blue.

I pray you have a friend like that.

I pray I am a friend like that.

15 years ago, I got divorced. It was so hard. Harder than anything in my life up to that point.

I bought myself a new ring to wear on the finger that had formerly worn a wedding ring. I haven’t been able to wear it in a long time because it hasn’t fit. This week, with slimmer, healthier, non-inflamed fingers, I slipped it back on…and I remembered how it felt all those years ago to buy a piece of jewelry for myself – with my favorite word on it: HOPE.

I pray you can be a friend to yourself.

I pray you can slip HOPE back on your finger, too.

Posted in Whole 30

Day 19 – Whole 30

Road trips on Whole 30 are …well, different.

47 and I loved road trips. 47 and I planned our snacks waaaay ahead. Make sure there are enough sweet snacks and enough salty snacks. A cooler of Pepsis, for

…and all within reach while I’m driving.

48 and I plan ahead, too. But, it’s not as fun; it’s not nearly as decadent. 48 and I have to peel oranges and wash tomatoes. We need plastic containers for everything because things like olives come in cans…not awesome reclose-able boxes like Chick’n in a Biscuit crackers do!

But 48 and I feel so lucky to be sleeping, and we just love the way our fingers bend in the mornings…and all day long. So, we packed our Whole 30 compliant snacks, hopped in the car, plugged our aux cord into our phone, pulled up the 20 TED Talks we had downloaded for the trip, and headed off. We snacked all day long, and felt no guilt. We even noticed that we didn’t have to stop to pee as often when we just eat good food and drink water. Maybe that’s because we sip water – but we gulp Pepsi.

It was a great day in the car. I was kind of worried about it, but it was honestly a great day.

Posted in Whole 30

Day 18 – Whole 30

Today is prep day again. I’m getting things ready for a very busy weekend. We need food to grab very quickly and easily, so I started a pot of bone broth last night. I have never left the stove on all night, and that was super weird (though it was on the lowest setting and the soup was just barely simmering away), but I know people do it. The recipe says for 12-24 hours, and the way today worked, I didn’t get to it until 4:00 this afternoon, so it was about 21 hours!

And it was totally worth it! I have never made such good stock. You can see in the picture that it is not really clear. It is so rich (it’s not thick, just rich) I could absolutely just drink it from a mug – which is what is recommended. It’s good for your joints, I guess. Well, it turns out, it is also good for egg drop soup. We made some tonight, and it was fantastic.

So, this morning, as I crisped up some potatoes to go with our scrambled eggs, I boiled up some eggs for the weekend. Hard boiled eggs with the homemade ranch dressing is a great snack. It’s not a Whole 30 snack, really. We eat that all the time, so it just feels good to sit down to a regular thing we would eat – and have it be compliant.

I also cooked two giant chicken breasts and made chicken salad – and filled several meal sized containers, so we are ready to grab it and toss in our lunch boxes.

It occurs to me how incredibly boring this blog is. I made chicken salad. Oooh. Egg drop soup! Big deal. But, I’m convinced that this Whole 30 blog will be a great tool for my health. I will come back here to remember recipes, feelings, accomplishments. After all, I have been eating well for 18 days, now. I really can’t understate how much of a turn around that is. I was drinking more than one soda a day. ALWAYS several snacks during the TV hours of the evening. And when I say snacks, I do not mean apples and peanut butter. I mean 6 small KitKat bars. I mean big bowls of ice cream. I mean half a pizza. So, these 18 days are a bit of a miracle, really. The way my body did not have severe withdrawals, does not have severe cravings that I’m having to fight – those are a part of the mystery I call God.

I can imagine doing Whole 30 again (maybe every year?). And if I do, I will come back here and remember that every weekend of the 30 days, I need to simmer some bone broth FOR A DAY. I will remember that I started with 16 cups of water, a chicken carcass, the inner part of a “bunch” of celery, 1.5 cups of diced carrots, one large onion, 3 cloves of garlic, generous amounts of poultry seasoning, salt, and pepper…and I ended up with about 12 cups of bone broth. (I will also remember that before the stock pot, I roasted the bones and veggies with plenty of olive oil at 400 for about 30 minutes or until they were getting a lot of brown on them.)

But, there is another thing about this blog: it’s practice. It’s learning about inserting pictures and hyperlinks and such. It’s discerning how long things should be…which always seems to be an issue for me. It’s learning about how to manage things if people make comments. If people contact me. Maybe it will never happen, but if it does – I’ll need to know what to click and how to access things.

I intend to tell people about my blog after I’m done with Whole 30. Then, I’ll use this space for things I really need to write about. But, for now, it’s an odd blog about food, kind of boring food, actually. But, I’m learning and growing, and writing it down helps.