September Health Challenge


I found that photo yesterday and decided to share it on instagram. However, even before finding the pic, I had decided to make a strong push to finish out 2014 in the healthiest way possible. I want to try to finally reach my goal weight and be closer to where I want to be physically. I started my weight loss journey two years ago, and while I made tremendous progress, the truth is that most of that happened early on. Since the end of 2012, I have been pretty much stuck. The scale has read the same infuriating number month after agonizing month. I focused on running and completed a half marathon (WOO HOO!!), but in terms of shaping my body, I felt literally stalled. I know that I should have been lifting more, and my eating has not been 100% clean, but damn, it’s been at least 85-90% clean. It’s been frustrating to say the least.

I am determined to start 2015 looking and feeling my best. Today really appeals to the OCD side – it starts my favorite month, it’s a Monday, and gives me four months to break a couple habits…or start new ones. So, for the next four months, I plan to eat clean and work out 6x per week, taking Sundays off – three days of lifting and three days of running/cardio each week. At least for September. I do hope I get Piyo for my birthday, so I plan to add that in when I finally get my hands on it. Anyway, I digress. Those are the overall goals for each month…clean eating and working out. I also plan to tackle a new thing each month.

For September, it’s drinking more water.

I know I don’t drink enough water. I like my coffee (and I like tea), but water? Not so much. I am challenging myself to drink 8 glasses (or 64 ounces) per day. If it takes a month to form a new habit, or nearly so, I should be a water drinking machine by the time September is over. I am at 30 ounces today, so I have some work to do before bed time.

As for workouts, I plan to run on T/Th/Sa, and lift on M/W/F. Today I did upper body and abs. Wednesday will be lower body and abs. Fridays will be a full body HIIT workout.

I am doing the following workouts (plus running), which I found on Pinterest. I am ok with repetition and these kick my butt, so I feel like they are good for this month.

Upper Body Workout

Upper Body – Repeat 2x to begin, and 3x by the end of the month.


Abs – Repeat 2x

Legs and Butt

Lower Body – 1x to begin (it’s murder) and shoot for 2x by the end of the month.

7 Minute HIIT

7 Minute HIIT Workout – 2x. Each exercise is done for 30-45 seconds.

I will update periodically with my progress, but I am certainly not turning my blog into a fitness journal. If you want to track my food and fitness progress, find me on My Fitness Pal: BeckyBoop78. I am also in Runkeeper and Gipis as Becky Johnson.

Here goes nothing! :-)

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Perfect Mashed Cauliflower

photo (13)

This recipe is DELICIOUS, if you like cauliflower, and if you are not on a diet that limits fat. Fat is my third favorite “F” word. One of them is “Friday.” You can use your imagination on the other one…I am working on it, ok? ;-)

This recipe is NOT low fat, as I was heavily hinting at above. It’s healthy depending on your perspective on the subject. If you are going to eat this with something sugary/carby, that would be bad. If you plan to eat a sensible, low-carb meal, it’s very healthy! You will need a food processor. If you don’t have a food processor, I can make no guarantee about how creamy it will turn out.

On to the recipe! You will need:

  • Two 12 oz bags of frozen cauliflower (I use these because they are convenient, affordable, and steam nicely)
  • 3-4 Tbsp cream cheese (you can use reduced fat)
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp Parmesan cheese
  • salt, pepper, garlic powder, parsley flakes (optional) to taste

Pour the frozen cauliflower into a microwave safe bowl. Add a tiny bit of water, cover and steam for 15 minutes. Remove and drain well in a colander. You can even press down on the cauliflower a little bit to get extra moisture out. Dump the cauli and remaining ingredients into your food processor. Use the blade that reaches nearly to the edges of the processor…you want this well-blended and very creamy, with no lumps. Pulse a few times to make sure the cream cheese and butter start to melt in, and then set that puppy to “ON” and let it go to town.

After a minute or two, you should have very creamy, super yummy mashed cauliflower. Feel free to add it to another serving dish, or you can be lazy like I am and just spoon it right from the processor. It’s YUMMY! So very, very yummy! I barely miss mashed potatoes.

It is also really good with a clove of garlic. I steam the clove with the cauli and then blend it right in. Your breath will smell like garlic for hours after – fair warning. Obviously, if you use fresh garlic, skip the garlic powder.

This recipe makes 4 large servings, or 6 smaller servings.

2014-2015 Composer, Artist, & Poetry/Bible Studies


Composers for 2014-2015

Hildegard von Bingen

  1. O quam mirabilis est
  2. O ignis spiritus paracliti 
  3. O ignee spiritus
  4. Vision 4 “Love”: Et audivi vocem
  5. Antiphon Caritas abundant in omnia
  6. Ordo virtutum


Children’s Classics

  1. Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade (interactive story with music)
  2. Sergei Prokofiev: Peter and the Wolf
  3. Paul Dukas: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
  4. Engelbert Humperdinck: Hansel and Gretel 
  5. Claude Debussy: La Boite A Joujoux
  6. Georges Bizet: Jeux d’enfants, op. 22


Sergei Rachmaninoff

  1. Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18
  2. Prelude in C-sharp minor Op 3 no 2
  3. Symphony 2 in E minor op 27
  4. Vocalise, Op. 34, No. 14
  5. Rhapsody on a theme of Paganini op 43
  6. Danse Hongroise (Hungarian Dance), Op. 6 No. 2

I made this entire list into a playlist on YouTube. Modern technology is a homeschooling mom’s best friend! :-)


Artists for 2014-2015

Fra Angelico

  1. The Last Judgement, 1432-1435
  2. Transfiguration of Christ, 1437-1446
  3. The Madonna with Saints, 1438-1443
  4. The Deposition from the Cross, 1443
  5. The Annunciation, 1450
  6. Adoration of the Magi, 1445


Diego Velazquez

  1. Old Woman Frying Eggs, 1618
  2. The Waterseller of Seville, 1623
  3.  Juan de Pareja, 1630
  4. Aesop 1639-40
  5. Joseph’s Bloody Coat Brought to Jacob, 1630
  6. Las Meninas, 1656


Edgar Degas

  1. Blue Dancers, 1889
  2. The Absinthe Drinker
  3. The Dance Class, 1873-75
  4. The Bellelli Family, 1859-60
  5. The Little Dancer, sculpture; executed ca. 1880 or 1881
  6. Three Jockeys


 Poetry & Bible

For the first semester, we will be combining poetry with Bible and reading a selection of Psalms. We will read one Psalm every day from now until Christmas break, discussing just as we would Bible study and regular poetry.

For the second semester, we will do various children’s Bible studies from this site. Our poetry will be a combination of Tennyson, Dickinson, and Wordsworth.


Fourth Grade Science Plans

I am a couple days behind, but I just finished Zoey’s first semester science plans! The Pinterest board has all the books, project ideas, and videos I am hoping to use. We are covering some areas that I know we have missed in past years. At this point, I am working on filling those little holes in her education and pursuing her interest in biology.

Science Semester Board


And here is the Word doc with a week-by-week breakdown. It should help make sense of the board. :-)

Science – First Semester Plan


Fourth Grade History Plans

Alas! I do still have one child homeschooling this year. Zoey has proclaimed that she never wants to go to regular school and I am happy to oblige her. :-)

I have been making plans and schedules for her, and ordering supplies and hitting used curriculum sales. I was finally able to get my hands on all the volumes of Story of the World AND all of the activity books. My plan, as she is in 4th grade, is to cover two of the books each year, so that by the time she ends 5th grade, she will have covered all four volumes. It’s pretty ambitious, but we have cut our activities back and I only have her to focus on, which means if I am organized, we can get a lot accomplished.

I love using Pinterest in conjunction with Microsoft Excel for planning my lessons. I can write everything out (Excel) and have a visual guide with all the books and ideas I plan to incorporate. Since we have done ancient world stuff before, I am not concerned about rushing her. I am considering our first semester to begin on Monday and end at Christmas break…that will be 16 weeks and 77 days of school. I think I have chosen a lot of great books and fun projects. I want to keep her busy and also makes sure we have a fun, hands-on kind of year. She really learns best with hands-on projects and lots of visuals.

Here is the pinterest board I created for SOTW Volume 1:
SOTW 1 Pinterest Board


And here is the document I created to break it down week-by-week. I considered hyperlinking each book to my library for easier access, but decided I don’t want to spend that much time prepping right now. I have an alert in my phone to request library books for the following week every Sunday.

SOTW Volume 1 Semester Plan, Week-by-Week

Hopefully I will have my science plans uploaded tomorrow, followed by composer, artist, and poetry on Monday. WOO HOO! :-)


Craft Beer

N.A.S.H. - National Alliance of Secular Homeschoolers

The vision of The National Alliance of Secular Homeschoolers is to advance the recognition of secular education in the homeschooling community and to support academically secular homeschoolers. Through the activities and involvement of N.A.S.H. at the national, state, and local levels, secular homeschoolers will have a stronger, significantly influential voice in the world of homeschooling.

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