Monday, January 28, 2019

End of the Month Wrap Up

At the beginning of the month, I was amazed that it was 2019. Now, I'm amazed that we're already at the end of the month! I've been slowly trying to get back into the good habits I abandoned during the holiday season for bad habits like junk food. Candy. Cookies. Spending time with the kids and skipping the gym.

I've returned to the gym, or when there is snow, I have the treadmill and yoga on demand. I found a 30 day yoga challenge on Amazon Prime. Sure, it might take me 300 days to finish the 30 day challenge, but I'm still doing it.

Weaning myself off the cookies and candies is also a work in progress.

Then there's also this:

In 2019, I'll be turning 50, so health and aging are suddenly a obsession concern. Osteoporosis and arthritis are common problems for my family. I was visiting Life Away From The Office Chair blog and blogger Lisa suggested taking collagen supplements to not only reverse the effects of aging, but to reduce joint pain and promote bone growth.

Sounded like a great plan to me, so I ordered a jar. While waiting for it to arrive, I checked into the research. It seems to be legit. Which is good. It comes from natural sources. Also good. And those natural sources are ground-up animal bone, hair, teeth, etc.

Not good. I told my husband. He said, "You eat gelatin. What do you think it's made of?"

I suppose...

It finally arrived. I tried to tell my brain not to imagine it was made of ground up bone, fur, teeth and whatnot, but I never made it over the hump. Somehow, the idea of mixing it up and drinking it was  too much.

My husband wasn't so squeamish. He mixed up a glass and gave it a try. He assured me it wasn't too bad-- just don't smell it before drinking, because it had the same smell as when the dentist grinds your teeth to fill a cavity. 

Needless to say, that whole jar is now his. I ordered some collagen in pill form. 
Wish me luck. 

It's the end of the month. Time to reflect on the best of January's entertainment. 

Spider-man: Into the Spiderverse. Double thumbs up. I'm not usually a big fan of cartoons, but this was a well-written script. The characters were likable. The story was fresh. And the action was balanced with poignant moments and humor. 
Hector and the Search for Happiness. I love Simon Pegg movies. This one didn't let me down. It was funny and thoughtful. I bought a used DVD from a video store. A great way to stock up on movies for a few dollars. 

Brooklyn Nine-Nine. It's back. It has a new home over at NBC, but it's funny as ever. 

Quantum Leap. I bought my husband the full series on DVD for Christmas. We started watching it and I still love it as much as I did in the 90's. 

The Baroness: The Search for Nica, the Rebellious Rothschild. An enjoyable, informative read. From the beginnings of the Rothschild dynasty to the early days of jazz, this book takes an honest look at the humanness of those who live in worlds that seem so much larger than life.

That's it for January. See you in February!

Monday, January 21, 2019

Weighting -- an update, Keep at it!

Neither sleet, nor snow, nor rain, nor hail, nor weekends will stop me from my healthy eating! But stress? Yes, stress will do it. And getting sick is also a major disruptor to the caring about what I eat... then there's travel coming up... So many things can distract us from a well-intended goal!

So here's my update: I've actually been doing very good! I lost 8 pounds in two weeks, basically eating less and healthier, exercise still takes a backseat to my busy life, but at least I'm aware of it and have good intentions and timers set to try to fit it in.

As far as the rest of the world, here are the top Resolutions of 2017 (not much has changed!)

  1. Lose Weight / Healthier Eating 
  2. Life / Self Improvements  
  3. Better Financial Decisions 
  4. Quit Smoking / Less Drinking
Unfortunately, one-third are broken by the end of January, then 80% overall. (from Statistics Brain and Franklin Covey via

These are not good odds. It is soooo easy to slip back into old habits. When you go back to work, you look sadly at your measly lunch, then snack for the afternoon pick-me-up and "What's for dinner?" chorus when you get home. These distractions can gang up on someone trying to lose weight and eat healthier--especially when no one around you is concerned about it!

You have to make it about YOU. Want to be happier with yourself? Is your "resolution" going to help you? Then you have to keep at it to reach your goal! When something is important to you, you will get it done. (wisdom from my dad!) The key is to make a conscious effort to think about everything differently. Experts agree: 

"Unless you first change your mind, don't expect your health goals to materialize." from US News

Though I'm sick and about to take a trip (so easy to eat poorly when we travel!) I'm keeping my goal in mind. Splurging a little is okay, but for too many days in a row--that's falling off the wagon. Gotta manage myself, and here's how I intend to do that:
  • Reminders, notes, timers, and the journal sitting out on the counter--these are all helpful tools to keep my mind focused.
  • Need a snack? Think about it! How many calories do I have left? I remind myself: fruit and veg are "free" calories.
  • Have a drink instead of a snack. Flavored water is very helpful for my tastes and holds the hunger at bay for a bit.
  • Keep busy! This is not hard for me. I always have stuff to do. And it keeps me from raiding the snacks!
  • Don't stock sweets and snacks you like. I try to buy things my family likes that I don't. If I don't like it, I won't eat it!

How are you doing with your "resolutions?" Whatever your goals--I hope you're having a successful 2019 so far!

Monday, January 14, 2019

Wedding Planning on a Dime #cheapweddingideas

Weddings can cost a fortune. But there are ways to pinch pennies. Below are pictures of my niece's wedding...a wedding in which we stretched every nickel and dime spent to unbelievably low numbers.

The biggest savings was having a great family that is well-connected. My cousins run Wedding Planners and Catering Services (Sharon Helmick and Teresa Jackson, are my cousins. If you happen to live in the Ohio Valley region and need quality work at an affordable price, give them a buzz!) and have all the table linens, dishes, and kitchen wares we needed. Not everyone is so lucky to be related to pros, but there are ways to save money by thinking outside the box.

We used reusable dishes at the reception. It took a bit of time to wash them afterward, but we saved several hundred dollars not buying the high-end disposables. The napkins are also cloth and are reusable. Many halls have dishes available for long as you're willing to do the extra clean up.

Check with churches and civic organizations. They often have the large, industrial-sized serving items. Offer them a donation or ask about rental fees. The punch bowls in the picture were gathered from family. Amazing what people have already gathering dust in their cupboards.

Another smart idea my cousins taught me...use black table cloths on the food tables. Spills and stains are inevitable, so white table cloths make zero sense.

The pretty glowing trees lining the hall were cheap to make. We cut down saplings. Used Sakrete to secure them in Dollar Tree buckets. Painted them white. Lined them with white Christmas lights and they were perfect.

Re-usables. The roses in the table arrangements were repurposed from another wedding. The pine cones in the mix were gathered from yards and baked before adding them to the centerpieces. By looking for things that can be repurposed, thrift shop flower arrangements can get a second life.

The chair covers made ugly metal folding chairs look classy. We tucked the covers under the legs of the chairs for a finished-looking touch. We had to do it all in one night because we failed to book the hall for an extra day to do the decorating. By accident, we saved money by doing it all in a twenty-four hour period. 3:00 AM start time sound good, my fellow money savers?

Drapes of lights twinkling behind a sheer curtain. A gorgeous, affordable idea.

The bridal table. The rose and pine theme was chosen to save money, but they turned out to be perfectly symbolic. Red roses for love. Pine for longevity.

Christmasy touches make for cheap pizzazz. The Dollar Tree is well stocked during the holidays and a cheap place to pick up baubles to add some sparkle.

Putting the final touches on the light sheers. PVC pipes with holes drilled in it were the light/curtain hangers. A magical touch!

The cookie trays were supported by red bowls they flipped upside down and glued to the bottom of the trays. The garland was lengths of pine with roses wired to it and pine cones laid on top.

The pine garland was also used on the tables. The pine cones were free. The hurricane vases were reusables. All of these matched, but had we not found enough of the same kind...non-matching vases would have been beautiful too and with planning could be gathered from thrift shops and friends.

The Christmas tree was my mothers, or the bride's grandmother. We decorated it with pine garland, Dollar Tree snowflakes and red bulbs. The pine garland was simply twine with pine cones hot glued to it. The tree topper was a simple bow.

In the basket on the table, there was a basket of jingle bells for people to ring as the couple came into the reception hall. Sharon painted a board to say, "Ring the bells with joy and laughter and wish them happily ever after." That worked out perfectly because it was freezing cold on their wedding day and no one wanted to stand outside and blow bubbles!

They had all the roasters from their catering business, but it wouldn't be impossible to borrow roasters and dishes from people. Just be sure to label it to return it later.

Which reminds me of a huge money savings...we cooked the food ourselves two days before the wedding. Stored it in the fridge and put it in the roasters to heat the day of the wedding.

Another way to save money on the food if you don't want to cook it yourself is to contact local charity groups. For my mother's funeral, I contacted Wetzel County Hope and Memories, a local group that raises money to help cancer patients with the transportation costs of cancer treatment. They cooked and served the food after the funeral for a donation to their charity.

The finished product. It's pretty during the day, but absolutely perfect at night. The candles on the table and the sparkly trees around the hall were the perfect amount of romantic light.

No two centerpieces were exactly the same. By sticking to the same colors and theme, you can save money by picking up items as you find them discounted instead of having to find a certain number of exact matches in bulk.

Monday, January 7, 2019

#WeightLoss, take 2019

loved having all the boys home!

I'm at it again. And this is definitely NOT a New Year's Resolution. I don't want to make a cliche resolution to eat better, exercise more, and lose weight. I really want to make a life change. And if I keep trying, it's bound to stick one of these times, right?

I know I can do it. Over the summer, I stayed with my plan for a couple of months and lost 10 lbs. Then life exploded and my healthy eating diary got packed up with the rest of the house, soon followed by the holidays and family. Forget trying to get back to eating healthy with all that activity and stress. And that's why most people decide to wait and make changes when the holidays are over. The New Year is a good time to reset life.

So, here's the Plan that Works! for me:
  • Write down all Calories
  • Start with a Max of 1500 cal/day, then cut back more
  • Fruit and Veggies are "Free" - I don't count those calories to encourage myself to eat more of them
  • Drink more Water - I start with 16-20 oz/day and add more
  • Creative Exercising - burn calories any way I can!
    • Stand more at work
    • Take stairs instead of elevators
    • Park farther away at the store - especially if I need to shop at several stores: I park in the middle of the lot and walk around
    • Master the stairs at home - I do 10 flights up and down when I can.
    • Keep the house cleaner, or vacuum more... much as I hate to clean!
I'll post updates soon. And I wish you all luck with your resolutions or aspirations to improve!

Let's make 2019 a prosperous, positive year!

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