Saturday, November 29, 2014

It's the Holiday Season---

Growing up, my family always put our tree up the first full weekend in December.  My brother was born on the 3rd, and it seemed to fall around his birthday every year so it worked out great when we were all kids.  But, when my hubby and I got married, we decided that it would go up after Thanksgiving, usually on that Saturday.  We've maintained this tradition for years and it works great for us.  It's good quality family bonding...and it puts us in that holiday mood. 

This year, our big debate was real tree vs. artificial tree.
Me?  I wanted a real tree.  
I remember having one at home, at my grandparent's, but never since we've been married-
-I felt I was due.
Then, I thought---ick-what a mess.  
With my artificial tree I can bend my branches if things won't stay the way I want them.
But I was missing the smell---ahh the smell.
SOOO--lo and behold lookie!

These are FABULOUS.  I'm only on day 2, but I can smell the fresh evergreen as soon as I walk in the house.  Well worth it if you like the smell, but not the mess.

 And---you can't always tell if it's a real or artificial tree at first look
(sometimes even 2nd look) :)

The holiday season is also about creating memories.
We get so wrapped up in other things that we forget to breathe.
We forget what the season is about.
See that little sign:
Here's a closer look.
He's the Reason for the Season.

I wanted to keep the season alive--
I'm all about the acts of Kindness.

We came up with some ideas we wanted to do.
We asked for more ideas at Thanksgiving with my dad/siblings.
But I was surprised at what I was hearing.
What my husband and I do just because it feels right--
people don't always do????
Holding a door?  Taking someone's cart? Helping someone with something heavy?
Picking up trash because we see it?  Really??? I didn't know.

I guess I just assumed others were doing it out of habit.
So, we continued with our list that we had started.

Our list is nothing huge, some things we're doing do cost money, but it's nothing extravagant.
Just little things here and there as we count down to Christmas.

I truly feel I'm blessed in so many ways.
If I can bring a smile to one person's face--or even a shock of confusion followed by a smile-
-then I'm happying up my own day too!

So for our first countdown to Christmas activity, we passed out lottery tickets.

When I first bought them, I turned right around and gave one to the cashier.
She looked confused as I wished her good luck--and I went on my way.

We ended up going into a few stores with the kids and I had them pass them out as well.
The kids were getting into it, and the receivers were all shocked at first--but my kids said "Good luck" and Merry Christmas.  I had fun with this activity with the kids tonight.
We may have to do this one again.

Monday I am calling our local hospital to see if there are any restrictions for our children's ward and chemo ward.  I want to donate a few things, but feel I need to double check before I do.
We would like to do board games/coloring books/crayons etc for the children
and chapsticks, gum, socks, mints, etc for the chemo patients.
This idea hits home----as my mom had breast cancer.
When she was sick, she remarked about the taste she would have in her mouth.
Hopefully this helps other patients and the hospital accepts our chemo bags.

So, I hope to post and share more of our RAKS, but I'd love to hear from you.
Do you have any ideas?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Weight Loss and Fitness Motivation

I'm a fluffy gal who is trying to get rid of some of her stuffing.  I'm cuddly, soft--you know all those words that describe a big ole' teddy bear.  I'm trying to fix it. 
  It didn't get there overnight, so it is definitely not going to go away overnight. 

My husband has been a great motivation for me.
He stood beside me and did the 24 day challenge with me.
By the way, it rocked!
You can click HERE if you want to check it out yourself.
The first 3 days were the hardest.  The first 10 pounds were the easiest to lose! became harder.
 But 20 pounds later...and I'm getting the hang of it.
Sure, it may be disappointing that people may not see it.
You see, I know I'm a bigger girl. It will take a while for people to notice.
I have had friends and family notice.  My grandma LOVE her dearly told me...MY you've lost weight.  Now see, Grandma is 102 years old.  I just thought she couldn't see me well, so I got closer to her. ;)  She said WOO-EY, how much have you lost.  I told her about 20 pounds, and she said it sure does show! ;)  Yeah, I need to visit granny more often! ;)

Now, that the challenge is over, and school is out, it is time to keep myself on a routine.
I started walking.
 I thought that (above) was a good place to start! 
No, really though, I started walking on the treadmill.
And yes, this was my attitude--I had worked myself out of any kind of workout regimen.

I mean the closest work out I had been getting for a while was a push up from the couch.
Though when I was in school, I was getting some occasional sit ups in.

But I started feeling more energetic.  Weird, right?
 I know I had read this quote below before and I thought...whatever
But it's true.  I did feel better.

So then, I went to that wonderful hubby of mine.
I said I don't want arm flab.
I don't want to be in school and using a pointer, or doing the Phonics Dance and my flab is still swinging away, or riding a roller coaster with the kiddos and seeing our picture and my arm flab is waving at the camera.
 So he helped me out.

I have just little weights here at the house.   I don't pay for a Gym Membership.
I mean there is nothing worse than being a bigger gal and seeing all the skinny people working out.
I'd go to a gym too if I had the body that I was supposed to have! :)

So my wonderful hubby wrote down a little workout for me.
He just looked a few things up and started adding things as I went along.
I use little weights from Wal-mart and I have a little exercise mat I use for comfy-ness.  :)

Here's my little routine as of today.
Notice it says Morning----
After working on my arms, and walking on the treadmill, I thought I can do this.
Why not try to start running instead, I said....
 Try the couch to 5K, I said.
Yep, I TOTALLY need this shirt.

But in the end, it's not the fact that I run EXTREMELY slow.
It's not the fact that I'm not working out with a major routine.
It's the fact that I'm trying.

Now I'm not saying that what I'm doing is the right thing or not....
I just know that I'm seeing changes with me.
Am I Tired?  -ISH!
Am I Sore?  Some Days!
Do I HONESTLY feel bad if I don't work out?  Yes!  
(Wow, who would've thought I would have said that?)

 Here's to the next 20!!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Coconut, Chocolate Chip, Heath Bar Cookie

Funny how my last post was on weight loss and this post is a cookie recipe.  I still bake.  I enjoy tinkering around in the kitchen with recipes and then passing baked goods on to friends/family.  For Father's Day I made cupcakes and Reese Dreams for our dad's to enjoy.  

Strawberry Cheesecake Cupcakes
Butterfinger Cupcakes
 Our grandmas (my husband's and mine) also enjoy their sweets.  The great thing is that they both enjoy the same taste...chocolate, coconut, butterscotch, lemon, etc----Okay, I think our grandmas have a bit of a sweet tooth too. :)  So when I decided to combine some of their favorites into a cookie, THIS is what turned out. 
A Coconut, Chocolate Chip Heath Bar Cookie.

I mean just LOOK at this delicious batter!!

Want the recipe?
 Click the image below.
Coconut Chocolate Chip Heath Bar Cookies


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Weight Loss

I'm putting out there---I'm a fluffy girl.  We all know that I like my sweets!!  Some people have A sweet tooth--I have sweet TEETH.  Yep. More than one.  I LOVE my sweets.  Chocolate and Peanut Butter together are like my absolute go to--Reese's, Cupcakes, milkshakes, etc.  It's not that I eat them all the time, but then when I do---then there goes the poundage.

And let's talk clothing stores--When you go to a clothing store--just because it is in your size, doesn't mean that it's made for your body type.  I've always joked with my husband that there are skinny Minnies---and then there are Miss Piggy's.  I'm a Miss Piggy. As I've said--I joke about it.....but I'm not comfortable with it. 

Let's talk about pictures---I hide from a camera, or hide behind it.  Just so I don't have to have my picture taken.  I do selfies though---and after about 30, I can finally find one I like.  You know...ones where the smile and head tilt is just the right angle to hide the double chins (or triple)--and the cheeks don't look like a chipmunk. 

So I finally decided to do something about it--luckily I had the support of my hubby and friends.
I've tried several diets through the years---I've been a fluffy chic all my life.  I can always drop a few pounds here and there, but then somehow it magically comes back on.  Okay, it's not magic---it's probably those Reese Cups and lack of exercise.

So when I did the 24 day challenge, I was a little skeptical.  Can this really work?  Can I stick with it?
Friends, I'm not going to lie--it's expensive....and with hubby doing it with me, it was MORE EXPENSIVE.  But it worked.    My friends/coworkers cheered me on from the sidelines, and I did manage to lose some weight.  Then I realized, finally, I can do this. 

The 24 day challenge is over.  We've been on vacation in Disney--with the meal plan (EEK!), and a few camping trips--but I've still kept my weight off.  I've found that I get fuller quicker, have more energy, and can truly adapt a healthier life style. 

I wanted to share with you a few of my favorite foods while on the challenge.  I was very good during the whole challenge, stuck to a plan, and didn't cheat.  I was proud of myself, because honestly, dieting is not an easy task!

This was a little treat I used for a snack AFTER the cleanse portion of the challenge.  I mushed a banana (you could freeze if first), added a touch of cocoa, and a little dollop of almond butter.  IT was a nice sweet treat.   (I told you, I have SWEET TEETH--I had to find a way for a fix!)

I enjoyed this for my dinner many nights.  It tasted pretty good.  

This was a plateful of baby spinach.  You can eat as much of this as you'd like. 
4 oz of grilled chicken breast--we played around with a lot of seasonings (no salt) and found that oregano basil and a hint of garlic was really good on just grilled chicken! :)
For the dressing, I used Salsa.  I was trying not to use regular salad dressings do to carbs and sugars. 

This has been a favorite of mine for several years now--and sweet potatoes are good for you!
This is a sweet potato pack.

I slice a sweet potato, adde pineapple and golden raisins to sweeten it.  Then sprinkle with cinnamon. 
You will want to add a bit of butter (not if doing the challenge), or cooking spray so that it doesn't stick to your foil. Wrap it up and bake.   I have hubby grill my sweet potato pack.  It is YUMMY!  This is also a nice little camping trip recipe! :)  Place it over that campfire--mmmm!

So, now that our diet is over, I'm still watching what I'm eating. I'm going to start lifting (EEK) and toning tomorrow. I have friends who are telling me that I would enjoy Zumba, so perhaps I will begin that as well. I figured if I put it out there for all to see, then I have to stick to it!  :) 

If you're interested in checking out what the 24 day challenge is about---you can click HERE!

My favorite product that I will continue to purchase is the Spark. 
I've tried the citrus, watermelon, pink lemonade and fruit punch.  The fruit punch ROCKS!
You can click HERE to see what it's about.

I'm not asking anyone to purchase any of the products.  I'm merely sharing my journey. 
I have a long road ahead of me.  I will encounter a few set backs, but I truly believe in this product if anyone is interested in checking out Advocare.

Thanks for reading!! :)


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Camping Fun-Part 2

When we go camping, we enjoy cooking over the fire.  To me, that's part of the fun in camping.
This time, we tried a new little snack.  
I've been encouraging my kids to eat more fruit (less fruit snacks!) when they're hungry.  
This time, I allowed them to doctor their fruit up.  
 I had hoped these waffle cones would have been bigger and had a larger opening at the top, but they were just about the right size for a little snack or after dinner treat.  We filled them up with a half of a chopped marshmallow, banana and strawberry.  Then we added just a few mini chocolate chips to glaze the top with chocolate. 

We wrapped them up in foil and placed them on our fire grate for just a few minutes. About 5--but I did keep checking them to see that the chocolate was melting, and I did turn them about halfway through. There isn't an after picture because the kids were a delicious mess.  It really wasn't messy, but Connor told me how awesome they were.  Winner winner!

Another favorite recipe of mine for summer (or parties) is Fruit Dip. 
I make this ahead of time when we go camping, and it is always a hit! :)
Above are the ingredients I used this time.
Mix 1 small box of instant pudding mix (I chose cheesecake) with 1 c. milk.
Stir in 1 cup of sour cream.  Fold in one container of cool whip. ENJOY!

I've also made this with almond milk, sugar free pudding mix, no sour cream, and lite cool whip (or fat free).  It tasted awesome that way as well.  I really prefer the french vanilla cool whip in it though! 

And one more yummy treat---
We were camping with friends this week (and there are a few food allergies)--so I was trying to make something that everyone could enjoy.  Snickerdoodles!!  YUM, right?  Well, I got to thinking...what else do I have on hand?

Oh yes---this happened!  Snickerdoodle Smores.  I mean there were leftover cookies--and this was an "off weekend"  (You know, diet on the week--splurge a little on the weekend?)

Moving past food--- :)

I've been trying to teach my kids that you can have fun wherever you are at. Sometimes you have to make it---but it doesn't have to cost money.  Money doesn't have to be spent ALL. THE. TIME.  

Here are some ways we enjoy ourselves with no (or low cost).

We LOVE nature walks.  We go to the state parks and enjoy walking the trails.
Sometimes I've made scavenger hunts for them with paper to check off their list.  
Sometimes I've awarded random points for being the first one to find a feather, the first one to find a leaf bigger than their hand, etc. 

 We enjoy state parks, and have noticed that many have their own nature center.  It's fun (and free) to go in and take a peek around.  Sometimes there are park rangers or volunteers in there with activities for you, or there to answer questions or give you more information.

What are some fun (free or almost free) activities you like to do outdoors?