Let me start my post by saying if I had more time to read I would be a happy girl.  I have been really lucky to get a string of cookbooks and really good fiction books to review for publishers lately.  Who doesn't love free books!!  Especially good ones.

Well my latest review book was The Book Lover by Maryanne McFadden. This book takes a look into the world of books by looking at the various aspects of a writers, readers, and book sellers.  The novel explores these differnet world's through the eyes of two very strong female characters.  The book chronicles how an aspiring writer moves on from countless rejections and a devastating betrayal by her husband to become a successful self published writer.  The story also runs parallel to Ruth, a book seller and owner of a local book store, and her struggles to keep her beloved book store open.  Additionally, a few love stories are thrown in to make this an all around great book. 

This was a great story, is really sucked me in and I wasn't expecting that.  After reading the press packet I didn't think I was going to like it and would have to send one of those "thanks for sending the book but this wasn't my style" email.  I always give books 50 pages and I didn't even need that much to get me into the book.  The characters are well developed and there was just enough going on with each main character that it allows you to really feel invested in the characters in thier lives.

The other interesting part of the book is that just like the main character Lucinda in the story, the author McFadden self published her first book and then was picked up by a major house.  I love a good success story real or in a book!  I would give this four and a half stars...its not quiet a five as in best book I have ever read but it was really really enjoyable. 
The Scintilla Project

So before I get on with today's prompt I have to say I am digging this project and hope to get online later tonight and check out some folks posts as well.  So today's prompt asks us to write a letter to our bully and tell them how they hurt us and how they can no longer hurt us

Dear Bully-
First and foremost you need to know something...I hate you!  I always have.  If there was anyway possible, I would never ever think about you again.  You don't deserve a second thought.  You are not worthy of my time or my attention.  Yet, I think you deserve to know how awful you were to me

You always said the most hateful things to me.  Its like you knew exactly how to hurt me.  You knew exactly what to say that would make me cry.  What would rip my heart out.  You knew exactly how to make my doubt myself.  In those moments that I felt amazing, confident, and beautiful.  You some how managed to take that away with a look or a comment.  Your ruined some of the greatest moments of my life.  Moments that should only have been filled with happiness and joy.  You stole those from me and I hate you for it and I always will. 

I am older now, I am wiser, I am so much stronger than I used to be.  Yet, you still have a way, in my weakest moments, of hurting me.  Whether you realized it or not those things that you said to me, whispered to me when no one else was listen..they stuck with me.  Like little scars that no one can see but me.  For that I will always hate you.

But, now is my time.  The time for me be happy.  To forget you and all those awful, hateful things you did to me. I need to move on.   I want to forget your existence on this planet.  I never want to think about you again because you don't deserve my thoughts. 

Sadly, its not that easy to get over this kind of bully.

Especially because my bully is me
The Scintilla Project

So I am a little late in the game with getting on this Scintilla project, but I figured this would be a perfect fit for me.  I love prompts to get my thinking to get me moving. So although today is the 5th day, I figured I would write about the prompts that inspired me.  So one of today's options was to discuss "a time I got away with it"  For me it isn't exactly just one time...it is a lot of times. 

For me what I got away with was pretending that everything was fine.  There was a period of time right after my son turned one and that we were moving into our new house that I got away with pretending that everything was fine and it wasn't.  My husband began to suffer from severe depression.  I didn't know it at the time, for a long time I thought it was me.  If I could be a better wife, be better mother, be a better housekeeper...he would start to get over the anger and sadness that he was living with.  After many months I realized it wasn't about me it was about him and I was trying my best to help him.  As anyone who has experienced depression or lived with someone who has depression knows all the help in the world can't make someones depression go away. 

So I did what I had to do.  I locked us down.  I cancelled plans, never had people over, stopped talking to a lot of my friends.  I shut us off from the world so that people wouldn't know how bad things were at home.  How miserable my husband was and how miserable our lives were.  If you would have seen me at work, I looked fine.  I pretended.  I acted.  I lied my way through almost six months of my life. Until New Years....my husband was to ill (I always refer to it as ill because in my mind depression is a sickness not something we can just change like a mood) and I snuck into my son's room to watch him sleeping and was staring out the window at all the houses lit up for the holidays and realized how ungodly tired I was.  Believe it or not pretending that everything was fine was killing me.  So I made a decision I wasn't going to try and get away with it anymore.  I needed help and so did my hubby.  It was then that we started to work towards getting back to a real life. 

 I know still to this day that most people in my professional life and a whole lot of people in my private life still have no idea how bad things were for those 6-8 months and most never will.  Looking back I know pretending that everything was fine and perfect was not good, but at 28 I didn't know what else to do.  Today I am stronger, I am wiser, I know that even if I could...I wouldn't want to get away with covering it up again. 
Recently, several of the bloggers I have been reading have been talking food issues.  Be it a food addiction, struggling with healthy choices, or even just not being able to fully commit the way we want to to an exercise or an eating program.  As I said in an early post, I too have been struggling a lot. As of my weigh in today, I am up about three pounds from my start back at weight watchers and up about 7 from my lightest ever (Post babies of course).  I am pissed, but also have to realize that I need to relax a bit considering some of the major family issues I have been going through.  Now on to the froot loops!

So my dad who I love and loves to be grandpa of the year....bought the kids a huge bag of cereal at the whole sale store.  I freaked the hell out.  OMG my kids eating this "bad" cereal.  Oh lord they are going to get fat like me, I am going to eat the froot loops and get fatter....so on and so on.  Those of you who struggle with temptation and food you know what it is like to have a food like that in the house.  After talking to my dad, his reply was "I was going to buy some more cheerios for the kids but believe it or not the calories on the froot loops was less then the cheerios and now they are made with whole grain, I figured it would be a decent snack better than cookies or a granola bar".  I didn't believe it, that couldn't be true...a "bad" food like that no way could be lower in calories and be whole grain.  Well damned if he wasn't right!  I should know by now despite my wish for it not to be true, my parents are usually right!

So that being said I spent some time really thinking about my ridiculous overreaction to the damn cereal.  When it comes down to it, it wasn't about the cereal at all, it was about my inability to have a normal relationship with food. I see food, and always have, as good or bad.  Not what it is, just food!  So I have decided that it is time, it is time for me to really start dealing with actual issues with my food. I have dealt with my binge eating, I have dealt with the reality of having a husband who suffers from severe depression, I am working on my body image.  Now, now it is time to deal with my not so healthy relationship with food. 

So my ridiculous relationship with food....your on notice...."It's not you it me...I think we need to break up"
So this past week my son had parent teacher conferences and can I just say what a wicked proud momma I am.  Fair warning I am totally going to gush on my kid right now so feel free to stop reading for those of you who don't want to listen.  So as I have mentioned a few times my son has been struggling with anxiety issues at home (i.e. sleep issues as well as tantrums) and it has been a long road for us and for him.  Well he has always loved school and to go and have a parent teacher meeting and have the teacher talk about how bright my son is, how well behaved, and how well he preforms at school meant the world to me. Not only from the teacher part of me that of course wants me kid to excel at school, but that despite these anxiety issues he is OK.  Really OK and doing well.  Sometimes during these anxiety attacks i begin to wonder if we are doing the right thing, is he going to be OK or will it always be like this with him.  To hear his teacher say such wonderful things and know that developmentally he is above where he needs to be reassures me that despite the fact that he gives us a run or our money at home and tests my patience to the limit and then on some days that he is a good kid. 

Also if I am being honest it also helps me realize that I sort of know what I am doing and I am not going to screw my kid up beyond all recognition and maybe just maybe I am capable of raising a completely normal member of society.  Now mind you he is four so there is still plenty of time for me to mess him up...but for now we are doing OK!
Dressing him like this is what is going to mess him up!!!!
So I have been really trying to work on not being obsessed or controlled by the scale-Well lets be honest I am a work in progress that is for sure!  I have been working on the same six pounds since September.  In September I started eating clean and proceeded to loose the six pounds then kept it off for a few months then put it back on over the holidays.  Well I have lost a few gained a few over and over and over and over and over and over...you get the picture.  Now I am not going to pretend that I have really been working that hard...I have been eating ok..but not tracking everything.  I have sort of been going to the gym but not consistently.  I need to get my act and ass in gear.  This is the weight that I get stuck on every time I loose weight.  I need to put in serious effort to weigh less than where I am at right now.  I had really hoped to be well under where I am for my birthday at the end of the month.  I feel disappointed but I am trying not to let that discourage me. I need to get up and put on my big girl panties and get moving (both literately and figuratively).   I also need to start living.  I need to stop obsessing.  I know what needs to get done but I often find myself thinking about that number and my lack of gym time then focusing on real life.  I have been following Elle over at Prior fat girl and listening to her talk about how food isn't an all consuming thing and reading about Emmie over at Skinny Emmie and I am realizing that maybe if I start focusing on living my life and not on the scale, the food, the exercise or lack of it, and keep doing what I know works I will get there!  So as I plug along and just keep swimming I wanted to say thanks to those who help keep me inspired. 
I am a lucky girl a few weeks ago I was sent a shipment of Old Orchard Cranberry Naturals Juice.  This is a new product in the Old Orchard line.  It is actually a lite juice that is made with Truvia a natural zero calorie sweetener.  Now typically I love juice, but I am not willing to spend the calories (or when doing weight watchers the points) on juice.  I have never seen the point of drinking your calories unless it is of course coffee.  I was hesitant about trying this juice because most lite juice taste like...well lets be honest crap!  It has that nasty after taste and still has a decent amount of calorie and tastes like garbage for those calories.  Yet, this juice has 40% less sugar than other brands and no artificial colors and flavors. So when I got this juice I was given both regular cranberry and cranberry raspberry.  I tried the regular cranberry and sent the cranberry raspberry one home with my dad because I am not a huge raspberry fan.  My dad who is a juice-aholic loved it and didn't even know until I told him that it was lite juice.  I really enjoyed the cranberry one.  It did have a slightly different taste then regular sweetened cranberry but so not that horrible aspartame taste.  I am a big Truvia fan in general because is a more natural sweetener.  After one glass I drank the rest mixed with water and loved it.  I think that this is a great option for those of us who are trying to be a bit healthier this is a nice option to spice up your routine.  The juice comes in the following flavors....regular Cranberry, Cranberry Blueberry, Cranberry Pomegranate, Cranberry Grape, Cranberry Apple, Cranberry Raspberry.  Since the Cranberry Natural people are so great they are allowing me to give away two free bottles of the juice!  If you are interested in trying this new lite juice drink please leave your name below and what kind of juice you would like to win.  Additionally entries for following the blog and following on twitter (please leave your twitter name).  Please list your entries individually for when I throw them in a hat it is easier to pick them.  The deadline to enter will be March 29th (my wee one number two's bday)
I have been a busy girl lately.  I have been trying out several new recipes trying to keep up with my new goal of eating more healthy natural foods (eating clean) and also trying to eat more vegan meals.  So of course what do I start out with baked goods of course.  I am always looking for more new breakfast options (I am going to try overnight oats this week) and I needed to do something with all the damn bananas I had left over in the house.  So I found a weight watchers banana oat bread recipe and a clean eating peanut butter banana cookie recipe.  So lets start with the banana bread...super yums.  If you are a weight watchers member just search in recipes under banana oat bread.  It was so darn tasty.  My only issue was it was five points for a tenth of the loaf.  Now if I am being honest look at that loaf of bread...it looks great doesn't it.  It smelt even better.  The  likely hood of my cutting this into ten pieces and only eating one...slim to non.  So I think I would totally make this recipe again but next time i would make a few changes.  The first one I would make would be to cut down on the brown sugar and substitute in some agave or honey instead to try and "clean" this recipe up a bit.  The second and most needed change for me would be to make these muffins not bread form.  For some reason visually I can be satisfied with one muffin over a very small slice of bread.  Also, for those who do weight watchers I would say that you are going to need to add some fruit or protein to this breakfast because one tenth of this bad boy all mighty tasty isn't going to cut it as a breakfast.

Second up were the clean eating peanut butter banana cookies.  So because it is clean it has no sugar and only whole wheat flour.  I keep hoping I will like whole wheat flour but not so much!  So I tasted the dough (come on don't sit there and pretend that you don't eat the dough too) and it was good.  I tasted the cookies when they came out of the oven...they were OK.  Not great but good.  Then I had some the next day...UGH!!!!  Don''t know what happened but damn they were bad.  I am wondering if I need to try cooking them again and for longer so they wouldn't be chewy or maybe I over mixed the dough which can happen with whole wheat flour.  I kept trying them (I girl can hope right) but I ended up throwing them out.  Look at them don't they looks so promising!!

One thing I am starting to realize with my eating and trying to eat the best possible foods the most amount of the time.  If I am really wanting a cookie or cupcake I need to stop searching for a suitable "clean" or "points friendly" option.  I need to just indulge once with a few bits of what I really want and make good choices the rest of the time.  More on that revelation another time!  

So the end verdict...Weight Watchers Banana Oat Bread YEAH!! Clean Eating Banana Peanut butter Cookies-Hells No!
How does one know what to eat?  How much do you when to eat? How much?  

I know these seem like very silly questions to be asking but someone like me who has been struggling with binge eating and her relationship with food these questions are like quantum physics.  

I honestly don't know the answers to some of them.  For me I get the fundamentals...Ideally you want to eat every few hours, you should eat quality foods, and only till satisfied not stuffed (Hello any idiot with a computer could figure this out) yet for me it is not that easy.  Honestly knowing what true hunger is, is hard for me.  Knowing the difference from wanting to eat because I am stressed and a true craving is hard.  Knowing what is a craving such as darn I really want some chocolate and being able to eat a few bites and be satisfied is such a foreign concept to me.  I know that people do this and to me they are a wonder of the world right up there with the friggin pyramids.  So seriously I don't know that I could honestly take a few bites of something I was really craving and leave the rest alone.  I have done this but it involves me throwing said item in the trash after a few bites because I always want more than a few bites.  

I know in my heart if I continue to work on intuitive eating, listening to my body, trusting my body that these things will get easier but still they seem so foreign to me.  I know that I need to give myself time.  I know that just like with learning to accept the image I see in the mirror I have to learn to listen to my body, learn what I am actually craving, and how to eat that item and not have it set me off into bad eating.  

Right now there are leftovers from the hubby's birthday sitting in the kitchen (I wrote this post on Sunday and am posting it later on in the week).  I indulged today and allowed myself to eat those things that I normally don't because it is a celebration.  My goal is to realize that the celebration was today...not every day till the food is gone.  I know I can do this, yet part of me wonders what a life would be like in which I don't think about the leftovers calling my name in the fridge.  Maybe that day will never come but hopefully I can begin to trust myself and my body to just ignore those lusty calls of homemade pierogies a bit better.  How do you handle eating?  Do you struggle with how to eat? Or are you one of those lucky few I mentioned?  I would love to hear!
So this past week I have decided that now that my life has settled down a bit that it is time for me to get to work on some of my personal issues.  One of those issues is that I really want to be ok with myself image.  I am not saying that I want to become complacent with and stay at my current weight, that is not it at all.  I want to be ok with my body and self image regardless of size or number on the scale.  I need to work on this because if I am being honest, despite how thin I was pre babies, I wasn't happy at that weight either.  I have always wanted my body to be something other than what it was.  The only time I have loved my body was when I was pregnant because now my body had a purpose it was growing a life and I was proud of my body.  So I decided that this something that I need to begin working on.  Really beginning to take a good look at my self esteem issues.  It is not an easy thing to do.

I started to realize that I do not even look in the mirror anymore.  I look quickly to put on my make up.  I look quickly to make sure I don't look like an a-hole in my clothes, but I don't really look in the mirror.  Over the years I just stopped looking.  I stopped because I was always negative when I looked so I stopped that negative self talk but stopping looking.  I know this isn't good but it is reality.  So this past week I decided that I need to start looking at myself.  Stop and take a moment and really look.  The good, the bad, the lumpy...all of it.  To honestly look at myself.  I know that it will be hard.  It will be hard to see an image that I know I don't like.  Yet, I realize that the first step in accepting myself and image is to really look at myself.  So here goes starting today I will be spending some quality time looking in the mirror...Yikes!