Whole Living Gal

Category Archive

The following is a list of all entries from the Uncategorized category.

Is there life after Facebook?

Let me get right down to it: I quit Facebook and I’m not looking back. 


The first day was hard – my good friend was having a baby and I felt like I was missing out on the whole thing and I thought for sure I’d be the last to know when he was born, his name and all the important stats. 


You know what I did instead of check Facebook? I texted a friend. And she texted me back. Then, when the baby was born and the whole world (it seemed) was looking at his adorable pics on Facebook, this same friend sent me a pic of him…via text. 


So I didn’t miss out. 


It’s gotten easier and easier to break away from this online world that both connects and alienates at the same time. 


There are a million reasons I love being off Facebook, but mainly I’ve taken stock of the real community around me and I feel so blessed. For me (and I know this isn’t for everyone), Facebook gave me a false sense of connection – I felt I had connected with a lot of people because I “liked” their statuses or commented on a photo. But really, there had been no actual interaction. And for this extravert, this false sense of interaction was hard. 


So I’ve been more intentional about connecting with friends that I am doing life with – texting, emailing, and – wait for it – picking up the phone and calling (gasp!). 


I’m also a really competitive person, so reading everyone’s highlight reel made me feel inadequate and under-equipped – as a friend, as a mother, and just as a person. 


I should be clear that I’m not anti-social media or even anti-Facebook. I know not everyone is me, and maybe Facebook is great for you. I’m not going to twist your arm and tell you being off Facebook it will change your life. But maybe it will. It took a lot of pressure off mine and I feel I’m breathing a little easier. Maybe I’ll pop back on at some point and learn to live in the world of Facebook with some boundaries, but for now, I need the space totally away. 


Wherever you are in terms of social media usage, I think it’s healthy to have conversations about how technology is shaping our lives. 


I’m curious if others have thought about leaving Facebook or have tried it in the past…? What are your thoughts and comments about life-after-Facebook?


Bread and Wine: a book review


When Shauna Niequist offered bloggers the chance to preview her latest book, Bread and Wine, I said “yes, please!” And so this is the subject that brings me back to this lonely blog…

There are two things I loved about this book: it inspired me to get [back] in the kitchen cooking real food, and it encouraged me to invite other people around my table. I’ve done a great job at the first since I set down the book, but honestly, my table feels maxed out right now with three little ones, so it doesn’t get many visitors. That’s okay for right now. 

I think my favorite chapter was the one about weeknight cooking, which included simple, whole foods, and creative ideas for cooking on the fly during the week. I’ve used these tips a number of times since. 

I also felt like I got a good glimpse of Shauna’s cooking rhythm – the spices and foods she generates toward (yes to goat cheese and absolutely no cinnamon). I loved this part because I am so curious about how other people feed themselves, not just on the fancy days when they have you over for dinner, but on the everyday grab-and-go lunches and the rushed dinners. 

I was hoping – and expecting – the book to be less personal essay and more expository. With a title like Bread and Wine, I expected more theology, or at least spiritual insight. But besides two chapters book-ending the piece, Shauna didn’t really go there. It’s her preference, really, but I was disappointed because I really wanted to hear her insight on these topics, but was left with stories about her own personal life. 

However, this is Shauna’s style, and this book certainly solidified her place in the personal essay section of the book store. And she does it well, so, that’s something. 

I’ve tried the enchilada recipe and it was as heavenly as Shauna talks it up to be in the book. So, so good. This recipe alone is worth gathering a crowd or splitting it into a couple of pans and sharing it with a friend (or your mom and dad, which is what I did). 

Other recipes I’m dying to try: Brannon’s Caesar Salad, Mango Chicken Curry, Nigella’s Flourless Chocolate Brownies. Oh, and the Blueberry Crisp. Oh, wait, and the Gaia Cookies, too. And, I’ll want to try the soups, but now that spring is around the corner, I’m moving away from soup season. 

I think we all love hearing stories, especially when they’re told in a personal way (that’s one reason we read blogs, right?). And when those stories relate to life and friendship and food, it makes for a rich book.

Have you read Shauna’s book? Are you planning to pick up a copy? I’d love to know what you think of it. 

Also, what inspires you to get into the kitchen and cook good foods? Springtime? Warm weather? The smell of the grill? I say yes times a million to all of these – I’m so ready for food that is grown in (or close to) my own back yard. 

My Award-Winning Chili Recipe

My neighbors had a chili cook-off a few weeks back. Since my husband was out of town, I was dragging my feet about whether or not I wanted to tackle making chili and dragging all three of my kiddos to the party all by myself. But I decided to go for it, and I’m so glad I did.

It was fun to try everyone’s chili recipes and there was quite a variety of flavors – everything from the traditional bean and beef chili (that’s what I brought) to a spicy mushroom-and-black-bean goodness. It was a night talking about food and cooking while eating and drinking – what is there not to love?!

Well, I ended up getting first place! I was so excited! I’ve never won anything food-related before. I can already tell that the competition is heating up for next year’s round…I’m planning my next chili creation already…

So, here’s my throw-together chili recipe (guestimates, only). The key, really, is cooking it FOREVER and seasoning the heck out of it…with those tricks, you can cover a multitude of wrongs. Oh, and buy good ingredients. I used really good ground beef and organic veggies. If you can manage to cook your own beans from dried, that will only take it up a notch (I didn’t bother this time).

Heather’s Award-Winning Chili

1.5 lbs ground beef, browned on the stovetop with seasonings
3 cans beans, drained & rinsed (use whatever you like – I think this time I used black, white, and red kidney)
3 cans fire-roasted, diced tomatoes (get the fire-roasted!)
1 cup (about) of diced onions and peppers (I keep a mix of this frozen so I can just throw some in chili or tacos or whatever)
1/2 cup (about) frozen corn
seasoning to taste: I use Penzeys Original Taco Seasoning and Ancho Chili Peppers (ground), salt and pepper and a little bit of agave or natural sweetener.

– Throw all ingredients in the crock pot along with about a can of water. Let simmer on low for 6 hours or so, stirring occasionally. You might have to add more water as it cooks.

Ain’t fancy, but it’s delicious! Enjoy!

Check one, two… Is this thing on…?

I have a song going through my head for this post that sounds something like this:

“Is there any-body out there?
Is there any-body out there?
Someone I can trust (huh)!”

Anyone remember that song? Circa early-80’s…conservative Christian music…?

Anywho – I’m back.

I think it’s been about 8 months since I blogged. In that time, I carried and birthed a baby boy, who is now almost 4 months old. I know I’m bias, but he is the cutest baby ever and I love him to bits.

Having 3 kiddos, 3 years and under has been a whole lotta crazy, but it’s fun. My children are sweet and thoughtful (nature, probably not nurture 🙂 and I love to watch them forming relationships with each other.

This morning, Dashiell (pronounced DASH-‘ll) was sittting in his Bumbo (are those things recalled?!) and the girls were dressing him up, giving him toys and reading him books. It was so cute and he was loving it.

So the precious moments (thought I’d keep the 80’s theme going here) are what have kept me away from the blog…oh, and the piles and piles of laundry and dishes and dirty diapers and mealtimes and bedtimes and, and, and…

[I have been micro-blogging (which is a term I recently learned) on Instagram (heatherehammond) if you’re interested in following me there.]

But it’s good to be back. I have a few posts in the works – including my award-winning chili recipe and some gluten-free information.

In the meantime, is anyone still reading…? Is there anybody out there…?

Exercise Fizzle

Well, it’s been a few weeks since I implemented round #2 in my winter pursuit of exercise during pregnancy – mainly, dropping our gym membership and hitting the treadmill at home and doing a prenatal yoga DVD.

To tell the truth, the exercise is starting to fizzle out a bit. I’m sure it’s a combination of a number of things:

– It’s easier to make exercise a priority when I’m going to the gym, dropping the kids off, and getting some time to myself. It’s harder when I have to entertain toddlers simultaneously while hiking it on the treadmill or becoming a jungle gym during a yoga session.

– We’ve all been sick. This has been the craziest un-Michigan winter of all time – very little snow and crazy changes in temps from day to day. It seems like everyone has been sick – and we’re never able to get fully well. I don’t like to push myself too hard physically when I’m sick, saving my energy to fight off the illness.

– Much to my dismay, I can’t keep up the running. I feel great while I’m running, but the last two runs have sent me, hours later, to bed with a heating pad somewhere. I had to come to terms with the fact that even though I’m only about 20ish weeks along, my belly is making some serious horizontal progress (even strangers are surprised that I’m not due until June) and it’s causing strain on my muscles that just can’t take the hard pounding of running. With running out of the picture again, I lost a little of my motivation. Although, I have learned the benefit of simply putting my treadmill at an incline and kicking up the speed – I’m achieving some serious and embarrassing-looking speed-walking in my basement!

– Though the nausea of the first trimester has disappeared, I’m facing my own set of second-trimester whoas, including dizziness, headaches and migraine syndrome. I’m not complaining (well, kind of), just facing the facts and understanding my body’s limitations.

Overall, I’m able to get about 3 good sessions on the treadmill a week and sometimes I can sneak in a yoga session, too. My time exercising, overall, is greatly reduced (my treadmill sessions are 20-30 minutes instead of 40-50 minutes). I’m trying to be realistic about my schedule, my health, and my life with two toddlers. I’m doing the best I can for now, and trying to remember that life comes in waves, in seasons, in stages. This is a season…

Plan B: Survival Mode

I don’t want to blather on about my children…especially my sick children. But, my kids are sick. I have two girls – a two-year-old and an 11-month-old. The older has a cold and the younger has pneumonia. Poor little lambs. Also, poor parents. This basically means my husband and I haven’t slept through the night in over a week. And some nights have been rough.

These days feel like we are in survival mode – just trying to make it moment to moment, continually asking for patience, grace, and immense doses of all-things-Spirit-related. I don’t want to over-dramatize our situation because I know parents who are going through much worse with their children. But for us, this week, it’s hard.

It’s times like these when plans are scrapped for plan B and we do the best we can, knowing this, too, shall pass.

I have some awesome friends who have stepped in to help. Today, a friend Julie came by to pick up my older daughter and run errands with her. Yesterday, a friend Brooke went to the grocery store for me. (I should add she gets extra points for this because she’s also pregnant and lugging around my groceries.)

When I made the shopping list for Brooke, I had to re-think my weekly menu. Every day, at about 3pm, I think, “Eh, let’s just order a pizza for dinner.”

But eating pizza every night is not going to bring us closer to healing – and I know food is powerful, so eating well is important, especially right now. Who wants to cook right now? And how am I supposed to cook when I have sick kids?

So I’ve scrapped my previous plans and have moved toward simplicity. One night, we ate cereal, then were hungry so my husband made a chicken salad from the leftover roast I made on Monday. And I centered my new meal plan ideas around simple meals that don’t take much cooking and chopping and that I’ve made a million times:

– Extra eggs for a quick scramble if we’re in desperation
– Layered burrito bake (I made this last night w/ ground chicken, onions, beans, peppers, tortillas and cheese)
– Pasta w/ ground beef (and whatever veggies I can scrounge up)
– I also have some random white sweet potatoes that I have been loving recently – these are super easy roasted or sauteed or mashed into quesadillas.

There have been some bright spots to our week. On Tuesday, our pediatrician sent us down to the hospital for X-rays to verify the pneumonia. Now, no one wants to take their child to the hospital. No one. But we have a brand-new children’s hospital that just opened last month, and it’s gorgeous. So amidst an otherwise stressful situation, we were able to be in a great facility. Here’s David walking in the crosswalk from the carport to the hospital – this is just the crosswalk, folks!

And this mural is in the lobby. It’s so gorgeous and sunny and bright. It’s a reminder to think on things that are good and true – even (and especially) during trying times.

10 Ways to Reduce Sugar Cravings

Happy Day-after-Valentines Day! You are no doubt full of love and hopped up on sugar. Sugar is addictive, and when you eat a little, you always want more…or maybe that’s just me.

Sugar is my downfall – it’s always the way I fall off the healthy train. Last week was my birthday and my husband bought me a bag of twizzlers. I haven’t bought candy in months – probably dating back to when I was pregnant with my second and had taken to stashing candy in various places (the cabinets, my car, next to my bed). It didn’t take me long to remember why I don’t buy it. I popped open that bag and practically inhaled my weight in chewy red ropes. I ended up having to throw the bag away because I couldn’t stop!

I tell this story because I know how addictive sugar is … and also how delicious.

But there are creative ways to combat sugar cravings. Here are my top 10:

1. Eat more sweet vegetables. This is my favorite way – I love, love, love the sweet flavors of carrots, squash, sweet potatoes (I’ve mentioned the quesadillas, right?). Eating these foods helps reduce sugar cravings and gives your taste buds what they are craving.

2. Drink more water. If you follow me on twitter, you know that this is my “thing.” Dehydration can be the cause of so many ailments in our life – and it’s the cheapest and easiest way to take a step toward health immediately. When we’re dehydrated, our body sends up flares – cravings! – and it is our job to interpret them. When a sugar craving hits, drink two big glasses of water and re-evaluate; you may have just been thirsty.

3. Exercise. Also no surprise this would find it’s way into my list this week. I am on the exercise train right now. It gets the blood flowing, aids digestion and helps eliminate cravings. Plus, it also helps with boredom, which can cause us to have sugar cravings as well. Strap on those tennis shoes and get moving!

4. Get creative. As I mentioned above, boredom can lead to sugar cravings. There are all sorts of reasons we crave foods, and I know this one hits my list from time to time. When cravings hit, consider if you are bored – and then get creative! What is your own personal creative outlet? Pull it out and get to work. Or call a friend. Or write in your journal. Whatever it is, feed your soul, not your cravings.

5. Use natural sweeteners. Replace white sugar with natural sweeteners: honey, agave nectar, maple syrup. These sweeteners are not refined like white table sugar, so they contain layers that not only boost your body with nutrients, but take more work for your body to break down and therefore do not spike your blood sugar.

6. Try a new food. We can get stuck in our routines and rhythms of eating that we become bored with the food we are eating day after day. Step out and try something new. Start with a vegetable you have never eaten or prepared and find a new recipe. Sometimes changing our routines can get us out of our ruts…and away from our cravings.

7. Drink water. Oops, I already said that. Well, have another glass!

8. Get more sleep. Sugar gives us an immediate spike in energy and then leads to a crash…spinning us onto a roller coaster. When you get more sleep, you are less likely to reach for those temporary boosters in energy during the day.

9. Avoid caffeine. Just like sugar, caffeine sends us into the same roller coaster of energy – a spike followed by a crash, which leads us to reach for more stimulants. Drink less caffeine to avoid these ups and downs throughout the day.

10. Non-food nourishment. Seek non-food ways to satisfy cravings. Spend time with your friends. Get some fresh air. Soak up life!


This post is linked to Oh Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday.

Exercise and Energy

I know I’ve been talking about exercise recently, but I’m getting back in the game after two pregnancies and two c-sections and I’m excited about it!

First of all, we joined a gym. At the time we joined, we had no idea this winter would be as hard as it has turned out to be and having a place to go – with outstanding childcare – has saved my sanity on more than one occasion.

Last week was the blizzard – you all know this. And between that and a sick-ish baby, we didn’t make it to the gym at all. By the end of the week, I was beyond tired. I mean, I was first-trimester tired (and I’m not pregnant). Everything about me felt like it was dragging.

This week, I made a point to get back to the gym. And as a bonus, my exercise buddy and I reconnected and were able to hit the treadmills two days in a row together. Good conversation and a workout has done me wonders.

For the first time in a very long time, I feel not just not tired, but I feel energized. Two days in a row I have had the energy to push through my children’s nap time instead of crawl into bed at the first sign of quiet. Now, I still gave myself quiet time yesterday (today was a whole different story with my children tag-teaming naps…I NEEDED the energy), but I didn’t have to drag myself through the day, which was becoming the norm.

Before my pregnancies, I was a regular exerciser. But during my second pregnancy, I had to cut it out altogether and opt for lots of bed-lying and low lights, thanks to pregnancy migraines. For the first time in my life, I took a real hiatus from exercise.

Which is why I think I am seeing such dramatic results right now. After being away from it for so long, I am amazed at how my body responds so positively to a little extra movement, a little sweating, a little physical challenge. Exercise really has given me extra energy.

Call the Doctor

My computer is
sick. Or more accurately, my keyboard is sick. This does not bode
well for a writer. I’m typing this post on my phone, but I
certainly can’t finish my book proposal from my phone & I’m
meeting with my agent on Saturday (weekend appointments are the
norm when you try to get two young moms together). I was hoping to
head to the gym this evening, but I may be taking a trip to the
Apple store instead. Which means I have to go to the mall. Someone
hide my wallet because I’ll have the urge to replace the clothes in
the latest load of laundry I managed to destroy – this time with a
tube of chap stick. Oh my. Here’s hoping my computer just needs a
little love & that I’ll be back up & running
(& so will it) very soon.

Links: Recipes

Here are some of the recipes I’m looking at this week.

I made this chicken and egg drop soup last week – delicious! And I’m usually a brown-rice gal, but I went with the basmati rice in this recipe and it was very good. Great leftovers, too!

These peanut butter cookies are amazing – and no butter or white flour! Try them, seriously. And put some dark chocolate chips in them. And then hide them from yourself later.

I love to serve french toast to my children – they love it and it’s quick and easy for me to make. Also, I love that they’re eating eggs, and since I use good, local bread with no funny ingredients, I feel great about this option. This recipe makes french toast even easier!