Easy Birthday Get Together

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Today we gathered to celebrate the fall birthdays in our family. With a little planning, we were able to go to church and get back in time for everyone to have chili and of course, cake and ice cream for dessert.  It was our first family celebration together in our new house.  We all headed out to the backyard to eat.  I had saved a rug so we could lay it down for the children (and grandma).  The weather was beautiful and Maisie explored geckos and flowers with Aunt Rhiannon, Uncle Evan taught Caden how to use the bubble gun, and laughter and gentle conversation were lovely background noise – all moments I cherish.  Let me talk about the fun an inexpensive bubble gun can create with small children and keep the adults hands bubble liquid free.  Here is one similar to what we have.   The food was simple – the people were precious and the time together was priceless.

Here is how it all came about.  The weekend before I combined the the ingredients for Pumpkin Turkey Chili.  I made 2 batches and froze each batch in a ziplock bag which was placed in a bowl and frozen.  I did this so it can be placed in my Instant Pot.  However, it could be cooked on top of the stove after it was thawed.  This saved me a lot of time.  On Saturday, I set out on the counter for a few hours to thaw and then placed in refrigerator.  In the morning I placed both ziplock bags in the Instant Pot and placed on Saute for 5 minutes.  This will heat up any of the contents that may be still be frozen.  I then locked the lid down and placed on Manual for 11 minutes.  Then I headed off to church.  When I got home I opened the lid and it was perfect.  I put the lid back on and kept on warm until we were ready to eat at 11:30 a.m.  On our kitchen island were all kind of toppings:  cheddar cheese, diced green onions, diced cilantro, sour cream, guacamole, salsa and chips.

While I was putting the chili together for the freezer the week before, I also made up a Banana Cake.  It was cooled on the counter, covered with foil and placed in the freezer.  Last night I took it out and placed on the counter to thaw.  This morning before church I made up the vanilla buttercream frosting, made up the birthday banner from Lemonade Moments 

By the time I got home from church, I diced the onions and cilantro and got all the fixings ready to go.  The plastic bowls and spoons were put out and we were ready to enjoy each other’s company rather than being in the kitchen.

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Vacation – Don’t Let Your Goals Get Derailed

May 2015 vac - train

(A precious grandparent moment – taking 2-year-old Caden on his first big train ride. I’m not sure who was more excited – the child or the adults?)

Summertime is made for vacations.  Back in May, I had a wonderful getaway with my family.  It was extra special because we haven’t had a chance to have this experience with our now grown children in many years.  Going places, sharing new experiences, laughing and being away from the normal routine is good for us.  I hope you’ve had a chance to get away or have a plan in mind soon.

 At the time of our vacation, I was 4 months into using the 21-Day Fix Program and was seeing results.  I wondered how this time away would translate with the new lifestyle habits regarding nutrition and fitness I had been implementing.  I ended up having a good experience while away.  Here are my insights about how not to get derailed with taking care of yourself when you are away from home.

Remember the week before vacation will customarily been busy.  

 I created checklists to help me get things organized:

What needs to be done before I leave in regards to my home?

  • Mail, garbage, newspaper, plants watered, animals, clean out fridge, etc.

What needs to be done before the trip?

  • Packing list (clothes, medications, exercise equipment, electronics, chargers, workout DVDs, food, tickets, money, etc.)

vac2015-view from condo
(This was the view from our condo in Oceanside – it was perfect.)

I asked myself what did I want to experience when I came home from vacation.  Would I remember that I had a vacation experience but I was still on course with my goals or would I regret some of the decisions I made in regards to my fitness and nutrition.Okay – so now it was time to test myself –

  • After 4 months, did I have a diet or a new lifestyle mentality?  A diet often has an end date attached to it – we think once I reach this weight or wear this size clothing I’m done and then we are right back to where we started.  But a lifestyle change is different – it’s action incorporated in wherever our life is – even on vacation.
  • I decided before vacation what I wanted to happen when I got home.  I envisioned where I wanted to be when I took my stats (weight and measurements) at the end of the 3-week challenge group which happened to land on my last day of my vacation.  I was down 3 lbs the day before we left.  I decided I’d give one of those pounds away during vacation but wanted to strive toward a 2 lb weight loss.  What I didn’t want to happen was to take several steps backward in my journey. 

Chocolate Banana Almond Smoothie
Chocolate Banana Almond Smoothie Recipe

So now I needed to determine how I was going to make that happen..

  • I took my Shakeology with me because it is a portable and is a delicious meal replacement. This helped offset the occasional treat food and give me balanced nutrition.
  • I packed nuts in individual baggies – again because they are portable.
  • We were driving so I packed some sliced cooked chicken, cut up veggies, and fruit.
  • I researched restaurants before we arrived and decided ahead of time what I would order.  I usually ate half of what was served. 
  • I took my 21-Day Fix portion containers with me to be used when I wasn’t at a restaurant.  Happily I realized that the 4 months of practicing this system had cemented into my mind and I was able to portion out my food without them most of the time.
  • I ate several of my favorites but modified what the restaurant wanted to serve me.  For instance I love Fish and Chips (mainly the fish) so when I ordered it, I ate all my fish, 10 french fries and substituted the coleslaw for a side salad with oil and vinegar and you know what?  I was just fine with that.  Eat mindfully – choose your favorites and determine how much you will eat.  It may taste awesome but it won’t be awesome if you have to live with the results for months to come.
  • I chose iced tea or water instead of alcohol for several reasons – it doesn’t work well with my Interstitial Cystitis.  A glass of wine or beer isn’t worth several days of pain plus it gives me the munchies and I tend to overeat and that isn’t going to support my goals.
  • I brought my laptop and used Beachbody on Demand for my workouts (I forgot my dvds – very glad to be able to stream my workouts) and a set of 8 lb weights.  Don’t have weights – use 2 water bottles or 2 cans of vegetables.
  • Drink Water and then drink more water – we should be drinking ½ of our body weight in ounces.  For example a 160 lb person would drink 80 ounces of water a day.  I found this the most challenging.  I would get busy having fun and forget.  Take your favorite water bottle with you.
  • If you are staying somewhere where you have a kitchen, take a few easy to prepare recipes.  Spend a few minutes shopping and cooking so you have nutritious food to eat while away.  This will also save money.  Pumpkin Turkey Chili is a great choice.  You can even premeasure your spices at home and put them in a ziplock bag.  
  • Yes –  I had desserts – caramel cheesecake, crème brulee and a flourless chocolate cake with coconut sorbet but each time one dessert was ordered and shared with multiple people.  
  • I did my workouts early each morning before the day got started and I could find 10 reasons why I didn’t need to do it.  I decided before vacation that my workouts were non-negotiable.  It was 30 minutes and I’m worth 30 minutes.  I’m fortunate I have a supportive family but we can often find ourselves with others that aren’t on the same journey as us.  Not everyone is going to be your cheerleader.  Be true to your values and goals – you just don’t know who you might inspire.  
  • I stayed connected to my support system (challenge group – women who have like minded fitness goals).  What a help to know they were available on line so I could document my progress and look to them for encouragement when needed.
  • Stick to your eating routine as much as you can…Breakfast, AM Snack, Lunch, PM Snack, Dinner, Evening Snack.  Eating nutritious – real food left me content and satisfied.  We were in California so I allowed myself an extra serving of fruit.  Oh why oh why can’t the fruit in Arizona taste like the fruit in California?
  • I created a self-made calendar so I could map out my workouts before I ever went on vacation.

        vac2015-Evan and Rhi (We celebrated my son’s birthday by going to Stone Brewery for lunch, tour and dessert. The food was amazing as well as the memories. The engaged couple will soon be Mr and Mrs in a few short months.)

May 2015 Vac - Family
(One last picture before we hit the road home. I have learned over the past few years how important it is to take time to vacation, to build memories. It’s not just about what’s happening during the time away but about the joy you have in dreaming about beforehand and being able to carry those times with you afterwards.)

When vacation was over I am happy to say that I was down 2.4 lbs and this experience encouraged me that I’d be ready for the next get away.

These are my latest before and after photos.   I forgot the “t” in strength but I decided not to take the time to fix it because I continue to learn it doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful.

 Feb - June 2015 Before and After Pics
I keep making progress – you can too. (Getting close to 15 lbs and 20 inches gone since Feb 16, 2015) We are halfway through 2015. Make the second part of this year time you build strength and learn to fuel your body with nutritious food. The next challenge group starts on August 3rd.  For more information on how you can get started working toward your healthy lifestyle goals, please fill in the form below and I will personally contact you.  The decision is the hardest part. I am here to help you.
 

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Jewelry Organization – Necklaces and Bracelets

  The spring cleaning bug has bit me and not a moment too soon.  Several projects have needed my attention – maybe you have a few of  those projects around your home and can relate.  Strange how we can live with something that creates a loss of time and confusion in our lives and then one morning you know something needs to be done.  One of my projects was organizing my jewelry.  I was finding that I had pieces all over the house.

    I am very blessed to have a mother who creates beautiful beaded bracelets and necklaces.  Over the years these have been stored in shoe boxes.  That is a fine solution if you only have a few but my mom is very creative and generous; and I needed to reevaluate what was becoming a mangled mess.  I wish I would have taken a picture of one of the shoe boxes but it is probably best for my mom (and me) that there is not a tangible record.  I looked for ideas regarding jewelry organization but nothing seemed to work for me.  Then I got inspired and came up with an idea.  One of the definitions of inspire is to stimulate to action; motivate.  As I think on that I realize inspiration is more than liking an idea.  It includes movement to act on that idea. I also noted that God had already provided the items needed to create a prototype.

   Years ago we had Classy Closets install organizers in our closets  (I have never regretted doing this).  I also had a few book rings (picture at bottom of this post) in my craft supplies (there were many times over the years I almost tossed them – really what was I going to do with these things? – I would soon find out).   I cleared an area in my closet and gathered a rod for hangers, my book rings and a couple of battery lights I had bought eons ago.  I sorted my jewelry by color and attached the necklaces directly onto a large book ring and then around the rod.  Each group of bracelets was attached to a  smaller book ring which was then attached to a larger ring around the rod. Don’t have closet organizers?  A tension rod or wooden dowel would also work.   Now choosing my accessories for work is as easy as pie.  

Jewelry Organization - Bracelets and Necklaces

Here is a picture of the necklaces—

Jewelry Organization - Necklaces

Here is a picture of the bracelets.  I used two different sizes of book rings —

Jewelry Organization - Bracelets

Here is a picture of a book ring.  They can be found in various sizes at Amazon and office and craft supply stores –

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