My Whole30 Journey … Beginnings

July 30, 2016


For a few years now, the idea of the “Whole30” has been swirling around me. I’d seen bits and pieces about it on Facebook and Pinterest, but to be honest, once I saw the “no grains and no dairy” requirements, I kept scrolling. That was for crazy people. (For the sake of avoiding redundancy, I’m going to let you investigate the Whole30 website if you’re interested in learning more.) I mean, how in the world can any human live without cheese?! The struggle is real. Also, tortillas. And wine??? Yeah, I’m out.

However, two-and-a-half years of foster/adoptive parenting have little by little taken a toll on my whole person: body, mind and soul. Moreso than I realized at the time, because I gradually found ways of coping and adapting, even if that meant putting taking care of myself on the back burner. As I’ve mentioned, foster parenting and adopting Little Bean has truly been a highlight of my life, and a journey that is not over yet. At the same time, it has been stressful and emotionally taxing at times! Those stresses combined with my time-intensive part-time job and keeping the Bean home running optimally while my husband works long and erratic hours have together contributed to the gradual loss of my mojo. This former marathon runner and girl who never really gave her life and health a second thought for most of the two decades found herself beginning to slip into a no-energy-having, stressed out, frumpy and frazzled 40-something mom. I decided that that way of living could not continue.

Recently, I decided to revisit the idea of the crazy, “extremist” Whole30 plan. I can’t describe it, but suddenly in my heart, I was ready. NOW. I was done with feeling tired all the time. I was done with the muffin top. I was done with sugar cravings. (I was done with coffee and wine cravings, too!) And in a nutshell, I was done with letting all of the above control and set the tone of my life. That is not me! So without further ado, I downloaded the book, It Starts With Food, began reading, and I was sold. It resonated with me.

Today I’m beginning a series of posts on what has become my Whole30 journey. And I will start by telling you a few things that Whole30 is not:

  • Whole30 is not a weight loss plan! I can’t state this strongly enough. Although the book states that 96% of Whole30 graduates report weight loss, that is actually not the primary objective.
  • Whole30 is not a “diet” of “taking away” things. As I progress from day to day, I’m discovering that in order for me to be successful (and by success, I mean completion of the 30 days without cheats), my mindset needs to be fixed on the things that I am ADDING to my life (more on this later).
  • Whole30 is not a starvation plan! In fact, I might be eating more now than I have in a long time! It is no joke!
  • The Whole30 is not something you can do successfully unless you decide you can be “all in.”

With that being said, I’m going to tell you more later about the day to day progress, share some “Whole30 For the Rest of Us” easy recipes (that you probably already have in your arsenal, or can make minor modifications to in order to bring it into Whole30 compliance), and break it down for you. My hope is to encourage those of you who are on the fence to give it a shot, and help give you some tools for your tool bag.

Until then, … you can probably find me sautéing some meat and organic veggies in my fresh batch of ghee. 🙂




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Exfoliating Facial Mask Pick-Me-Up

July 27, 2016

I used to be an avid department store cosmetics shopper. I won’t mention any names here, but … Bonus Time? YES PLEASE … give me the free stuff already! Or that used to be my standard operating procedure anyway. But over time, I’ve gradually offloaded the chemicals (and the cost) of most of my commercial toiletries, and gone to a more natural approach.

That (nameless) company had two products in particular that I really thought I couldn’t do without for a long time. One was a scrub, which reportedly you can do every day for a week. *wink* And the other is a cream, that claims to turn things around. (Meaning that is sloughs off the dead skin cells, if you use it consistently.) Well, tonight I did something that accomplished both of those. It is easy, it is very low in cost, and most importantly … it is really good for you!

I use bentonite clay to make a mask. There are many on the market, but I happen to like Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay. Bentonite clay is a powerful detoxifying agent, and is useful for many things. In a facial mask, I find that it makes my skin feel so clean and EXTREMELY smooth. And if I am starting to break out, a bentonite clay mask will nip that in the bud in no time.

So here are the easy directions for my mask:

  1. I take about a Tablespoon of the clay and put it into a small glass or jar.
  2. Next, I add enough water to start to be able to stir it into a paste. (It can get lumpy, so I take my time to mash out the lumps as best as possible, because that makes it easier to spread on my face.)
  3. Then, spread it on your face, and relax while it dries. Ideally, you will want to leave it on 15-30 minutes. You will feel it get taut on your skin, and as it does, it is pulling the nasties out of your pores. 🙂 Yay for nasties going away! The thicker that it is when you spread it on, the longer it will take to dry, so keep that in mind.
  4. When it is dry to your liking, just rinse with water (warm water is easier for rinsing) and enjoy the feeling of your freshly clean and exfoliated skin!

Additional considerations:

  • If you’d like to ramp up the goodness, instead of mixing straight water in with the clay, you can do part water and part apple cider vinegar. So good for your skin!
  • The first time you do this, your skin may get a little red. Personally, I didn’t have this happen. But  if it does, use a little moisturizer (or coconut oil!) to calm it down.


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Small local organic farm with crazy tomato deal alert! 🍅

July 25, 2016

For any local (Sacramento area) folks who love homegrown tomatoes as much as I do, today is your day for the deals! Ricky at Broken Plow in Elverta is a small, organic farmer and has an amazing selection of red tomatoes that are ripe on the vines! Get this … $1.25/lb!!!!!! Excellent for canning!!

Little Bean and I went out and picked today so we can go home and can! He also has peppers, melons, beets, squash, cucumbers, okra and peas.

Supporting our small, local farms is one of the best ways to keep them afloat (and get best quality nutrition).

Foster Care: A New Direction for the Beans

July 24, 2016

No Bohns About It

Updated March 5, 2017: When I started my blog in 2016, I didn’t realize how much I had to share about our foster care journey. The name “Today in Mrs. Bean’s Kitchen” derived from a silly thing that I would do  I posted recipes I was making. I would say, for example, “Today in Mrs. Bean’s Kitchen: Bacon Jalapeño Bread,” and then post the recipe. Posting in that way became a regular occurrence. Hence my blog title. Nowadays, Today in Mrs. Bean’s Kitchen has come to mean something like, “a day in the life.” Mr. Bean and I have a lot to share about our foster care experience. There will still be some recipes along the way. 🙂 If you’d like to read more about the evolution of my blog name, click here

I really appreciate all the love you have shown for my shiny new blog. 🙂 Because Today in Mrs. Bean’s Kitchen is in its infancy, most of you have joined due to the fact that we are either friends or family. But regardless of whether I know you very well or barely at all, and because I will be picking up new acquaintances along the way, I will begin by sharing about our foster care journey. And why I am passionate about writing about raising my son (even though it is not kitchen related).

Foster care was not the original plan.

Since February of 2014, Mr. Bean and I have been a certified foster and foster-adopt family. I know this is crazy talk to some people, but for us, it has become both one of the hardest and best things that we have ever done with our lives.

You see, Mr. Bean and I met a little later in life. We knew before marriage that we wanted kids. We actually had a big, Relationship Defining conversation about that while dating (you can read about that here). So imagine the heartache, when by our first anniversary, despite all best efforts, we were just not having luck getting a baby Bean on board. We looked into all health issues, and while nothing was coming up as a red flag, there was still no baby to show for our efforts. And because of my “Advanced Maternal Age” (yeah, love that phrase … NOT), doctors were quick to give us the list of our technological options. I very clearly remember sitting there with Mr. Bean that day, looking down the list, with a knot in my stomach, and KNOWING, beyond shadow of a doubt, that that was NOT the path for us. I don’t know why it was so clear. After all, I wanted to be a mom so much! But I will tell you that we walked (maybe ran?) out of that fertility clinic and never looked back! And at age 44 (currently), I have no regrets! (I believe this is the Lord’s work in my heart.)

So, after that, Mr. B and I did a lot of talking. We knew there were other options but didn’t have clear direction for a while. I remember thinking about how glamorous it would be for me to become the next Angelina Jolie by adopting internationally a few times. (Adoption is always just as carefree and fashionably exotic as that, right??) But after reading some blogs and books and getting information from a few agencies, we found out we either weren’t married long enough for their liking, or we were too old for their liking, or that it would take potentially years of sitting home waiting for a call. Literally, … more … years. NO. And then of course you are looking at a huge price tag to boot. As it is, I already teach in the public schools and have a hand out at every turn just to fund the program I teach. I. WILL. NOT. HAVE. A. BAKE. SALE. to bring a child home to adopt. So: moving on!

Well, “coincidentally,” around that time, a lot of foster and foster-adopt parents entered my life. Seriously! I don’t know how (well, … I do, actually), but they just started coming out of the woodwork! Everywhere I turned, I heard about foster care. I never even knew anyone that was involved in foster care before that, but all of the sudden, I found myself with new friends and colleagues who were foster and foster-adopt parents, and even several OLD friends that we were reunited with … when we discovered that they were now involved with foster care! So out of nowhere, we were getting to know some real, live foster parents and chatting them up about their experiences, … and the idea of foster care began sounding less and less crazy! It was from that point that our journey began to have wheels.

I saved this photo from October, 2012, at one of our first foster parent trainings. Our amazing trainers, knowing that it would be a long day of sitting, provided us with doodle paper, fidgets, and gum to help us stay engaged with the training. This is what Mr. Bean doodled that day. <3

In the past 2 1/2 years, we have had three foster placements (i.e. children), and adopted one of the three I mentioned … he is now officially our Little Bean. The two who were eventually moved (one was reunified with his family, and the other was moved to biological family members) will always be a part of us, and we may never stop missing them completely. But when I think about walk-running out of that fertility clinic years ago, and then I look at Little Bean (home with us since December, 2014, and formally adopted in February, 2016)  and remember the other two very special kiddos who left an imprint on our hearts … there is no question in my mind about why I knew we needed to bail that day!

So, back to the present. In this current (post-adoptive) season of our family, we are enjoying our time with our son and NO SOCIAL WORKERS in our lives for the most part. HAHAHA! At least for now! (Note: social workers are amazing people! I just like having my house back to myself.) But seriously, … we are working on getting Little Bean solid before we decide what is next for us. I strongly believe that we are not finished here and that we have a lot left to give before we are done with our foster parenting journey. But now that we have Little Bean in tow, we have to think differently about taking on new placements. He comes to us with a history that he needs delicate assistance to work through, and we are 150% committed to meeting his needs as our first priority.

Random facts about our journey:

  • all of our placements (children) have come to our home on less than four hours’ notice
  • all of our placements thus far have occurred on a Tuesday (random, I know!)
  • despite what you may think, now that we have finalized Little Bean’s adoption, we had no sense of that ultimate outcome when we, with trepidation, once again said “yes” to our social worker
  • we have had one major, and several minor, disappointments with placements falling through

Along the way, I will probably share more with you about our family. My hope is that in some small way, I can de-mystify the foster parent experience for you and encourage you to consider how you can help foster kids, who after all, are in this heartbreaking situation due to no fault of their own.

Next post will be back to a light-hearted kitchen-ey nature, as I believe I owe you some information about kombucha second ferments! 🙂