Low Carbs & Heart Health

Taking care of my health with special attention to my heart is #1 to me. Heart disease and obesity run in my family on my Dad’s side. I recently lost an uncle to heart disease–so I’ve got to be serious about it. I was skinny until my late 20’s and by my early 30’s was 30# overweight. A lifetime of eating junk food, drinking soda, high carb diet, and alcohol had nearly ruined my health. By 42 I was 50# overweight and out of breath and unable to even ride a bike anymore. I put my foot down and started my journey to healthier living.

Almost all of us would love to live a life of eating everything we want to, all the things we love to the extreme, without ever having a single worry about the consequences. My lifelong addiction has been sugar. I love candy. When thinking about the holidays, my first thought is holiday candy. Christmas–lifesaver books, candy canes, assorted chocolates, and chocolate covered cherries. Easter–jelly beans, marshmallow eggs, creme-filled eggs, and chocolate bunnies. Valentines Day–conversation hearts. Halloween–snack sized candy and snicker pumpkins. It’s probably been about 15 years ago now that I started to believe I was going to end up a diabetic. I went out and bought a glucose tester and started measuring my blood sugar 3 times a day. I was two years into a plan to improve my health from no more smoking and drinking to eating more fruits and veggies and exercise. Around 10:00 am every morning I’d get the shakes–hence I began to think I was diabetic or leaning towards that diagnosis.

It was late Feb, early March, coming up on Easter. Every day I would grab a handful of jelly beans, because giving up candy (my beloved) never crossed my mind. Every day for a couple of weeks I’d been eating roughly 15-25 beans–most of them past 8:00 at night (reading in bed). I would buy the big bags sold at Easter and of course a few smaller bags of the black jelly beans. My blood sugars were a tad bit high at 10:00 a.m. but right back to normal the rest of the day. By the following year when those Easter Jelly beans were being sold again, a light bulb went on one day, when after not having 10:00 a.m. shakes for several months, I was back to having them again. What was I eating or drinking that was causing this to happen? I eliminated everything before I even considered the jelly beans, but alas I had to consider them so I lowered my amount to 10- 20 a day and none at night after dinnertime. Everything went fine until years later when I went back to reading before bed and munching on jelly beans. This time my shakiness was at different times and I was starting to get concerned.

After seeing a physician and going through the fasting/blood tests where everything, thank goodness, checked out–I wrote it off as hormonal. But it wasn’t folks, it was the unbelievable amount of sugar in jelly beans. In eating just 15-25 jelly beans a day I was ingesting 25 grams of sugar = to 6 tsp. of raw sugar. Jelly beans were just one of the things I was eating packed with sugar. The worst thing, I’ll give you that. Fast forward to three years ago and me ugly crying because I bought some jelly beans and had decided to portion them out vs. eating every day. I would eat 5-10 every other day. This worked better but it was very hard to limit myself–very very hard. When I realized that I would have to give up jelly beans–the one candy I’d loved my whole life, I was devastated. So yes, I ugly cried about how unfair life was and that I didn’t feel like going on anymore if I couldn’t even eat a jelly bean or two every year. This may sound over dramatic, but at this point I had given up smoking, drinking, restaurant food, and a lot of the different snacks I loved. I got through it friends and today? I buy the occasional bag of jelly beans and I limit myself to 3. A bag lasts me a few months and I’m not tempted anymore to overeat them and face the consequences from them. The last thing I want or need at almost 57 is diabetes, high cholesterol, or heart disease.

Don’t get me started on my love for buying things for my husband–goodies, or learning how to make cheesecake (his favorite) or all the ways I’ve helped to make him overweight… Putting the brakes on his eating goodies, sugar laden treats, and such has been horrifically hard. His mother had late in life diabetes, heart disease, and his father high blood pressure and one of those big hard stomachs men get. Ya. Hubby has that too and the direct cause for that big hard stomach>> carbohydrates–nothing else. Look up visceral fat if you want to know what I’m talking about. Huge health problems can come from having a belly like that. Apart from his tummy, hubby is a fairly fit guy. That I’ve loved almost to death with sweetness, literally. Do your hubby, friends, family members and neighbor (wink wink) a favor and stop killing them with kindness. Eating a diet high in carbohydrates is bad when you’re young, but in your 50’s and older it’s a killer. It’s a proven fact that smoking, drinking, added sugar (diet high in goodies), bad fats, and processed foods increase your chance of getting breast cancer (women) prostate cancer (men).

Edit- Hubby wanted me to edit the part about him because he thinks I was too hard on myself…o.k. I was. Truthfully, I’ve lectured my husband for years and years about his carb intake, to no avail. After awhile it was up to him. He’s a grown man and had to figure it out himself. I did buy him sweets occasionally and for that I feel responsible. Thankfully, I am not a baker (never have been) otherwise we would really have issues to deal with. His wake up call is/was the visceral fat and on his own he has placed limits on his carb intake these past few years and is doing better. Lookout everyone this spring because he and I are starting a walking program to work his belly right off and to get me back in shape and back on my bicycle. I’ve lost quite a bit of weight so now it’s time to get limber and fit!

Life isn’t fair and no one ever said it was. You have but one body and the last thing in the world you want is to be too late in the game to correct an issue. Had I continued on with my love of jelly beans–lived in a state of denial, today I would be telling my story from a diabetics perspective.

Slowly but surely I have reduced my sugar intake by about 80% and by doing that I’ve reduced my anxiety (also lifelong) by about 80%. Physically and mentally I’m a new person and it’s all because I stopped supporting bad habits, stopped ingesting cups of sugar every day for comfort or out of habit, and started caring about myself (for the first time) and started feeding my body what it needed not what I wanted.

See the links below regarding comfort eating and anxiety. Don’t be fooled thinking your comfort food or comfort activity isn’t killing you if it involves bad food choices or sugar. Sugar increases anxiety>>>carbs are bad for anxiety. Until next time, be safe friends and be well!

Caloric content women over 50

Livestrong link for carbs & NIH Hearth Disease

Comfort Eating??

This Is Exactly How Sugar Can Mess With Your Anxiety—and What to Do About It

Parker House Rolls

Parker House rolls are a staple in our home. If you follow me on IG you’ll see that a lot of our holiday meals feature them. This year, at least in that respect, nothing has changed.

parker house rolls

Source

Here  is a great recipe that I found that I’m trying this year.

I read the Food Network magazine quite a bit and found a great recipe by Alex Guarnaschelli. I’ll be making enough for Thanksgiving that I’ll be able to freeze some for Christmas. The day after Thanksgiving we fix turkey sandwiches with them and the day after Christmas, ham. 

A question I was recently asked was “what inspires some of my content?” Well, several years ago I began researching where my food comes from. Through that research I became very interested in some of the “ingredients”-additives, preservatives in the food my husband and I were eating. From there I was inspired to gradually change our diet to an organic diet.  Of the many topics I’ve written about, food safety is my favorite. Many years ago now when blogging was brand new for me (1998 Open Diary & Live Journal) I created my first blog. I never knew what to write about consistently. Eventually I stopped writing on it altogether. I guess mainly because I didn’t think I had anything interesting enough to write about that someone would spend the time to read. I still think that at times but I’ve kept this blog going since 2008 because in doing so I learn to research better, write better, and communicate better.

I’ve noticed a lot of blogs out there whose content is advertising something, or promoting someone else’s blog to get them to promote yours, challenges and so on. The drive behind most of it views–to qualify for affiliate programs, and advertise some more. As much as I understand that and know many people who do this–very few to almost rare ever make a solid income from it unless they are doing it all the time M-Sun (at least in the beginning) and making many sacrifices. I think that is great but I have a full-time + job and it’s not something I have ever had the desire or the time to do.

If I write it and you like it, I’m happy about it. I guess what I am trying to say is–I write because I am compelled to write and this blog contains some of my writing. I create blog posts because I want to and enjoy blogging. Money, believe it or not, or accolades, or demands would ruin the very nature of what inspires me to write. If that makes sense? If you show up you will read content I have worked hard on that I hope you can take something away from. If not I hope you’ll stop back another time. 

I follow a lot of really good blogs, full of substance, creativity and hard work. I hope each time I make a post to be half as good as the ones I read. I hope you will try the Parker House rolls, you will love them and I’m certain you will make them a family tradition. Until next time, stay warm, stay safe and have a great week!

 

 

End of Summer Blues

Summer’s end–oh what a summer it’s been. In almost every way it seems to have lasted forever, but realistically since fall like weather has arrived three weeks early, and summer like sunshine and warm weather took forever to arrive, summer lasted a whopping 2.5 months here in Wisconsin.

What did we do?

  • Grilled hot dogs and hamburgers just once
  • S’mores
  • Several walks
  • Several farmer’s markets
  • Pumpkin patch
  • Container gardening from march-august 30th
  • Fed lots and lots of orioles, chickadees, finches, and hummingbirds (sad to see them go for another year). Chickadees, nuthatches, and finches will keep us company all winter long.

Most of our shopping was grocery pickups, no vacations, no get-together’s, and no travel for us. Covid has also put our move on hold and we’ve relisted the home we purchased and are taking a couple steps back to reassess our next move.

To say almost every little thing in this year sucked is an understatement. I’m not sure if I would have made it 100% mentally without my garden, the birds to listen to, a patient husband, and our humorous faithful cat Gabe. Oh and the food I enjoyed–so many days upon days of great locally grown produce. Take Care friends 🍂

Fall & Winter Stock Up

Pantry Essentials – by Kim VanderWerf

Also:

  • remember the books you’ve set aside & magazines
  • last years seed catalogs until the new ones arrive
  • fall & winter prep lists
  • cozy socks
  • soft warm sweaters
  • good quality tea
  • soup and casserole recipes

This year we’ve decided to do Christmas differently as far as gifts go. I believe we are going to go with more intentional, possibly handmade, custom made/designed or sentimental gifts that may be bought or made or have someone make. But as far as gift lists, or wants, or commercialism–nope that’s out for our household this year. I’m still working all the details out but I will share them here as I come up with them.

Update on our move–that’s complicated as is everything this year. Normally, the person with citizenship would return to their country and start the residency process and then the rest of the family would follow. That is not how things are working right now with our move. The residency requirement vs. how long, because of covid-19 restrictions, aren’t meshing. At this time I cannot stay long enough to meet the requirements so I will be traveling for a few days to meet with our house-sitters/renters who are caring for the home we have purchased. We will be working on winterizing everything and working out winter/spring 2021 details. Hopefully come March 2021 we can begin again–we are thankful to have friends that are helping us to take care of our property. We couldn’t and wouldn’t be able to do it all without them.

Fall Prep–   from This Old Home

 

Stock up Fall 2020 -video on how to stock up for an emergency

Until next time–be safe and be well!!

 

Gardening 2020 Container Garden–Starting a garden during a pandemic 🌱🐲 🌿

I began thinking about our container garden in January when the first seed catalogs started to arrive. By March I had our garden all drawn out and then the pandemic, our current crisis, emerged. Suddenly companies weren’t selling seeds, seeds were back-ordered, plants were out of stock–every one pressed pause.

I had vowed to myself in January that all I was going to grow was herbs and flowers. I’ve been container gardening for almost twelve years and each year–thanks to climate change it gets tougher. Winds have gone from an occasional wind gust here and there to the last two years wind all the time. Heat–well our deck twelves years ago got up to 100 degrees and we thought that was hot. Now, it’s nothing to be 112 and 116 degrees at 3 p.m. in the afternoon. Everything wilts–and continuous wilting =very little if any production. With the pandemic, I changed my mind and decided to order plants from online when none of the regular places had any or closed up due to regulations.

I do have to add in that finding good stock has been incredibly hard for about five years for me. Plants, at least around here, are not what they used to be. I have changed soil off and on, fertilizers, food, and hybrid vs. heirloom, even saving seeds and nothing seems to really change the awful effects of climate change.  Regular seasonal weather is bad enough between the rains and winds of spring to the scorching humidity of summer.  Let’s not forget about root rot, diseased plants, bugs, and lack of one nutrient or another leading to no fruit. Every year, for me, it’s a nitrogen problem for everything I grow no matter how much I amend my soil. This year that problem has led to no female blossoms on 3 of my tomatoes and none on my pumpkins. I’ve tried everything.

I think it’s been raining for almost three weeks–or so it seems. I hope to take photos this weekend and will add more to this post then!

2 weeks later:

I had five tomato plants in all–3 of which are pictured above. The tomato on the right in the cage has not produced any flowers–on this particular day (2 weeks ago)due to space/crowding I said–let’s just get rid of it.

Here’s what it looks like today–

It’s grown out of the cage and stands almost 2 ft above the cage top. And boy am I glad I didn’t get rid of him because he’s not going to produce. I tend to think he heard me say that, because he’s taken right off and now provides shade for the tomato plant on each side of him and the little guy in the red pot right in front of him. Without the shade he’s providing (yes my tomato plants are always he 😉 ) the other plants would be suffering afternoon wilt so much more–previous to the shade he’s providing all the plant but this plant were doing really poorly. It just goes to show–don’t be quick to get rid of non-producers–the shade they provide in hot humid times like these is priceless. I mean we’ve tried sun shades, screens, even umbrellas. Nothing has worked very well at all–until now. And my nitrogen problem has been fixed for now: all total I have over 20 tomatoes growing at this time!!

 

Drying Lamb’s ear for a decorative wreath —

Time for Farmer’s Market veggies–we gloved up, masked up, kept our distance 6+ feet, grabbed what we wanted, paid, and were on our way. We had a cooler with vinegar that we soaked the veggies in, dried them, and put them in a dry cool cooler until we got home.

Tomorrow I’m going to try to get some strawberries ( the last week for them around here the first week was two weeks ago–and then everyone shut down) at a local stand to make jam. Both of the local u-pick fields shut down this year due to low quantity and poor quality–as said it’s been raining for weeks here..

Until next time–be well.

Stocking your Pantry

First let me say–Happy Spring, Hello April, and How is everyone doing?

Second–Here is my Pantry Essentials List

Third –here is what I’ve learned so far:

  • When something scary/unknown/ unique/ health /or weather related happens in the world the first things to go are water, toilet paper, bread, flour, wipes, and over the counter medications.
  • Even though I don’t like to eat processed food, canned veggies, and junk food–I still need to have some on hand for pandemics/ and or events that cause the power to go out.
  • To use absolutely everything up–not to throw one single thing or one single serving away. And big tip–most expiration dates are not concrete dates when item goes bad. We just got done eating Yoplait yogurt that was 4 days past expiry.  We lived.
  • With consideration to finances and necessity always stock the pantry with staples-flour, sugar, yeast, brown sugar, salt, b. powder/soda, beans, rice, and pasta. All very affordable and long-lasting in the best of times and hard to find in the worst. Thank goodness I had just stocked my pantry up for the year in January with our annual trip to Sam’s. Also-canned or packaged shelf-stable meats esp. now considering there may soon be a meat shortage.
  • I can shove things all over in the refrigerator and freezer wherever they fit vs. everything in its place, straight, front facing >> Martha Stewart inspired.  🙂
  • Meals don’t need to be meat, potato, veggies, and dessert. Sometimes they can be reheated pancakes, lunch meat that needed to be used up (yes, I cringed at this impromptu meal idea), and bananas/ peanut butter that needed to be used up. We lived.
  • I can let go of my rigid attitude about shopping for our groceries and let a personal shopper at Walmart do it for me. Sometimes!
  • Look around for news I can trust. Mainstream news is way, way too conflicted.

The “experts” cannot seem to agree on whether or not a second wave of the Covid 19 pandemic will occur this coming fall. What that means for us, if we manage to flatten the curve, and businesses and production can get up to speed sometime this summer, is that you and I need to begin building a good solid supply of goods/pantry essentials and create our plan b for fall.

For my entire marriage (25 and counting years) we have been bulk buyers and pantry stocker’s. Since the pandemic hit a lot of people look at people like myself as hoarders. We have never hoarded anything …. even now we are not hoarding. Plus–if you live in the Midwest like I do there are certain things you always have in stock in your home just in case of a blizzard–yeast for baking bread, toilet paper, Tylenol, rice, beans, ingredients for making cookies, popcorn, rice krispie bars. Am I right? That said food security has been and always will be our family’s #1 priority. We do not have smart phones–we’ve never had them. We have flip phones and very reluctantly pay $90.00/mo for them. If and when I can find reliable, less expensive cell service, I will definitely switch. As is, we’ve been with US Cellular 17 years under the exact same plan 🙂

Also, our priorities don’t include new, or new to us cars. We’ve driven the same Saturn for 14 years which has just 130 k miles on it–because we also don’t go very far from home very much. Work, groceries, and home year after year because it is all we can afford to do. We have gone on a few trips, even a couple abroad, by saving air miles through a card we carry loyalty rewards and bonus money. Had we no miles and no bonus we would never have afforded a trip anywhere here or overseas. We also gave up cable television –no television or television programs; even local channels, almost 20 years ago and no landline for 17 years. Lots of money saved just by giving up those two luxuries..

Our lifestyle is very simple. We live simple, dress fairly simply, eat simple local food, and really and truly don’t want for much. A luxury for us is an ice cream cone and date night at Walmart… lol

Our life wasn’t always simple. In the beginning of our marriage (many moons ago) we were driven by necessity or rather lack of money, job instability, and a family arrangement gone wrong–basically forced to live as simply and inexpensively as possible. After about 15 years it kind of stuck and we’ve been living that way ever since. It’s not to say we don’t have unexpected expenses, or emergencies, or times money is really tight.

Our lifestyle is such that now 25+ years later we can pay all our bills, save a little, put some in retirement, and still have a little left over for renting a movie and getting an ice cream cone!  Moving forward through the uncertain times to come and doing so wisely is going to take money, skill, and resourcefulness.

My best advice for anyone is to slowly and gently start to build a pantry of non-perishables and if you can>>> find yourself a farmer. There are many farms all over the U.S. growing produce, eggs, milk and meat. Start right now or as soon as possible building a relationship with one. Plant a garden if you have space–plant enough to freeze, can, and share with a neighbor.

If you can– use any stimulus money you get to make sure your bills are paid, high interest credit card payments made, some into savings, and the rest toward supplies little by little.

Financially speaking my opinion along with several other accountants/analysts/ financial folk is we will see a recession within the next year. Whether the current crisis throws us into a recession or inflation does– life will be different for every one of us. Restarting our country will be done in steps–spread out across many weeks/months. Nothing will ever be like it was, or very little, once we go back out into the world and start living as we once did in it.

Whatever comes and really know one can really tell us with 100% accuracy– we will make it. Plan, prepare, and be resourceful!

Until next time–stay safe and be well.

What are you grateful for today?

Today I’m grateful for “having little bits and bobs of food in our refrigerator & freezer from which I can put together simple, easy, and inexpensive meals.” 

Today was a major cleaning/organizing day of which I cleaned out our refrigerator, pantry, and freezers. I found a couple pounds of ground beef and used one pound to make the following meals below. We aren’t big meat eaters which is a good thing especially now as the shelves are bare of it, locally. We ate the stuffed peppers tonight because they don’t freeze well for me and we’ll be eating the meatball cup stuffed w/ mashed potato this weekend. I made the cheeseburger pasta and Swedish meatball pasta without the pasta noodles and froze them for another day. When I decide to use them I will make fresh pasta.

#1 of ground beef = four meals for two Voila!

  • Cheeseburger pasta
  • Taco stuffed peppers
  • Swedish meatball pasta
  • Mashed potato stuffed meatball cups

The video below shows each dish using a pound of ground beef but I decided to get all four dishes out of 1#. With the cheeseburger pasta I will use more pasta, the taco peppers just more corn and beans, the Swedish meatball pasta more pasta, and I made less meatballs for the mashed potato stuffed meatball cups but we still got two each and had a side of mashed potatoes to go with them.

^**all recipes by Tasty–here is a great video showing how to make each dish.

Today’s Tip- fill up on healthy food right now–eat as much produce as you can afford, are able to purchase, and can work into your daily meal plan. Now more than ever you need to eat as clean as possible and limit your sweets to the bare minimum. There is no time like the present to eat like your grandparents once did by focusing on healthy foods, which are still more affordable than processed food, and eliminating sweets from your diet except for on special occasions. Eating sugar in general causes us to want more sugar–hence bad carbs.  Right now the only food I still see in the market that is plentiful is produce. If your diet has a lot of breads, cookies and cakes you are setting yourself up for hunger cravings.  Unfortunately, you will probably choose something with sugar in it to satisfy your hunger. It won’t. (As a reformed sugar addict I know all of this only too well). A great site that discusses sugar addiction and it’s connection to anxiety and health issues here

If this virus has made anything clear to us at all it is mortality is higher if you have comorbidities. This virus is especially hard on those with respiratory problems, diabetes, and heart disease.  Sweets in our diet to the excess I see so many people ingesting them = diabetes and most likely heart disease.  Read, paint, exercise, learn a second or third language,  clean, organize, plant a garden. There’s never been a better time than now to learn how to eat healthier and get in shape for summer.

Today I am thankful for:  🌼🌸💜🌼

  • the lessons I’m learning in no waste/reheating and reusing/conservative meal planning.
  • that I am responding to the current crisis rather than reacting–I am in plan and prepare mode vs. emotional basket case.
  • my husband who as an essential worker (for now) still goes to work every day with a smile on his face knowing he may contract the virus.
  • thankful that I remember in all of this that I must be strong because my husband needs me to be.
  • I’m thankful to the nurses, doctors, researchers, lab technicians, Emts, law enforcement officers, firefighters, truck drivers, grocery store/retail employees, factory workers, USPS, UPS, FedEx, delivery people–so many others, clerks, farmers, food suppliers, business owners and so many others that I’ve probably forgotten who are on the front line- taking care of us.
  • an Organic CSA that we were members of this past fall still had carrots and sweet potatoes available and we were able to pick up 4# of each today.

The shelves are still pretty bare in the local grocery store and local Walmart’s which can be nerve-wracking. A lot of local people initially didn’t believe this virus was as serious as it is and when suddenly the Shelter at Home order went out it was panic city. We don’t go to the grocery store anymore instead opting for grocery pick up only.  First off,  I can’t get over how friendly and helpful the Walmart staff and local grocery store employees have been. It’s been hard for me to hand over the reins of grocery shopping to someone else. I am the ultimate control freak/diva/micro-manager of our food budget-meal plan-head cook and bottle washer. My perception of ripe banana vs. most is not the same thing at all. That said everything has been just fine. I said no substitutes on lunch meat last week–they did anyways and it worked out but no charge.  So I’m learning to be less rigid with things like this and let some of the super duper micromanaging stress go.

At the end of this crisis I will no doubt, as you will, be changed and in some respects a whole lot more prepared for whatever comes next. We are all getting the experience we need and the training first hand on how we will come together, unify, and fight to survive -be it climate change, disasters, pandemics, whatever it is.

But it isn’t pretty– and it really is too early to be sure on silver linings.  At this point my husband and I have lost thousands in his 401 k. This year I was  all set to start one with the company I work for –but that likely will not happen. Either will our move and maybe not having our own home right now is a good thing? Hard to tell at this point. I take calls all day from colleagues and clients asking what I think about the current economy, what’s going to happen, is it as bad as they say? I’m at a loss for answers to any of it–I have degrees in both business and finance and maybe should be able to tell them something? But this crisis is different from any other and it is too soon for me–an accountant at present to form any type of opinion or to answer their questions with any kind of true accuracy. In time I hope to be able to help them as best I can. One thing is for sure everyone, except maybe the very rich, will have financial problems of some kind once this is all over with.

This week hubby and I are embracing “hearts in the window” for all the scavenger hunters in the area, and also putting up a set of Christmas lights as a sign of hope.  ❤

Resources–Things to do for free!

NetGalley— a great site you can register on for free and become a book reviewer. It’s a great time– to read books and help an author.

Recyclebank–a great site where for free you can earn points by taking recycling quizzes and then use the points to get free magazines and other cool items.

Quarantine/self-distancing/shelter at home bucket list:

  • Phone a friend
  • Send hopeful upbeat emails to your contacts.
  • Take pictures/make videos.
  • Read-catch up or start a new hobby–audible books are free right now.
  • Learn to cook one new thing–or learn to cook.
  • Do that one thing or two that you never find time to do.
  • Try watercolor painting–this is what I’m putting on my bucket list.
  • Fix the things in your house you now have time to fix.
  • Snuggle
  • Play with your pet.
  • Wash your windows–it’s spring!
  • Start your garden seedlings–that’s what I’m doing.
  • Read a poem out loud.
  • Clean and organize closets and all your stuff–get things ready for garage sales, sell on Poshmark, eBay, give away and more.

Before I end my post here are a few things I learned or learned to do this week:

  • save coffee not drank and rewarm the next day–first time and it was just as wonderful day two.
  • learned to eat stale bread because we don’t have the option to throw the ends of the bread away–and I probably won’t ever throw them away again!
  • settled myself for the road ahead one day, and sometimes, one hour at a time–no one knows what’s to come. I’d rather go into things far less stressed and far more rested.
  • prayed more than once a day.
  • stretched a pound of ground beef into four meals.
  • took breaks away from news–helped keep my anxiety down.
  • tried not to feel so guilty for being able to work from home–I know how incredibly lucky I am to have a remote job.
  • looked around in my surroundings searching for little things to be happy or comforted by–hubby watching the birds, our cat cozying with his toys (babies), robins singing at 6:00 am, quiet freeway–just semi’s on it for the most part, and green grass poking through–soon the dandelions.

Until next time stay safe and be well.

Source

 

My Word for 2020 is Savor 🌱 🌿🍃


verb
taste (good food or drink) and enjoy it completely.

noun
a characteristic taste, flavor, or smell, especially a pleasant one.

http://www.wordoftheyear.me/index.php

I have another word I’m going to be focusing on this year as well and that is reuse.

verb
use more than once.

noun
the action of using something again.

A chicken carcass cooked up and homemade chicken noodle soup for a cold, wintry day.

The babies of my mature hens and chicks plant from last spring.

I purchased and replanted the momma plant in May and had it in my patio garden all summer, fall, and part of our mild November. I really didn’t want to part with it so I harvested some of the babies and brought them inside. I’ve been watering them and providing sunlight and ventilation. They seem to be doing fine–they’re in loose sandy airy soil with some gravel underneath them. We shall see if I can make this work and perhaps not have to buy another expensive hens and chicks plant this spring.

2019 was an exhausting year for me and really our household. Between looking at houses to possibly move to, working full-time +, keeping up my volunteer hours, writing, reviewing books, gardening, and social media, I was kept way too busy. Then mid-year I developed a health issue due to a lifelong issue and spent the rest of the year in pain, worried, and worn out.. A part of me even at 55 still feels like I haven’t accomplished anything unless I’m completely worn out at the end of any given day. I almost always choose finishing up work, projects, or home tasks before I take a break or go do something fun. Even with my health issue I never missed work, never really rested beyond my nightly sleep, and continued working/volunteering/putting in 60 hour work weeks. Upon year’s end I sat down and took inventory of my life/schedule/hobbies/ etc. and made some changes.

Both this year and last via social media all I see are people equally burnt out, worn out, and looking for simplicity. Though I’m not much for social media, I do love taking pictures and keeping up with friends and accounts I follow that I really like on IG. Most people I follow –maybe 99% are selling something and relying on internet sales for their income.  I am very thankful I don’t have to do that anymore.  Back in the old days I used to create web pages/sites for income and maintained PowerSeller status for ten years on eBay.  Between the competition, and costs, and self-marketing/advertising every day was a challenge. Thinking back though nothing like things are today. I loved it and made many friends all over the world selling on eBay.

Today is very different in the online/internet world. Competition is fierce and things change fast, and people change their minds fast, and are distracted a lot, and definitely trying  100% of the time to stay relevant. Not too long ago, after I hadn’t sold anything online for maybe a year or more, I got an email from someone I’d sold something to 2 years before that. I’m not sure exactly what was going on but she wanted to know if she’d bought anything recently from me and for me to send her an invoice and she’d pay it. She apologized profusely for not taking care of it right away. I of course had no idea what she was talking about but did have her name in my eBay sales contacts as someone I’d shipped something to. We finally figured out that she had ordered from someone else more recently and just hadn’t checked her purchases and finding just any name in her email account she began emailing sellers so she could pay her bill. She had been so busy online that she hadn’t had time to check her email account in several months. Busy people. Things like this happen all the time and the main reason for it is people are distracted, too busy, and most of all competing/keeping up with/updating their status with someone or something online–usually connected to social media. 

So back to my end of year inventory–I decided to:

  • cut down on social media
  • not move and not look for out-of-state home until 2021
  • look at local homes for sales in 2020
  • volunteer at places more local to me
  • smaller patio garden
  • less blogging

More time for savoring every moment of my life! Until next time –be well ✨❄️

 

Forest Bathing —therapy and healing in the forest

I’ve spent at least half my life in the forest/woods among trees. Starting at the young age of 13, I sought refuge there from the stress of school and the overprotectiveness of a parent.  Many a time I lay on the ground without a worry of ticks, or spiders, or whatever creature insect might be crawling around me. Listening as I lay there to the trees speak.  If you are reading this and find yourself hesitant, curious, doubtful, or interested–I invite you to make time to go somewhere, anywhere there is trees and quiet. Sit. Release your worries, stress, anger, hurt and relax in the sway that is a tree. Now at 55, I am still among trees and will be long after this “trend” and certainly from a time long before. Forest bathing or Shinrin -yoku (“taking in the forest atmosphere” or “forest bathing.” ) has been around since the 1980s and originated in Japan as a form of therapy in nature. I say trend because “suddenly” it’s the new thing, which you know new or old, I hope it encourages people to try it, connect with nature, and make a vital connection between  planet earth and their health igniting in them a sense of motivation to protect both.

The scientifically-proven benefits of Shinrin-yoku include:

  • Boosted immune system functioning, with an increase in the count of the body’s Natural Killer (NK) cells.
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Reduced stress
  • Improved mood
  • Increased ability to focus, even in children with ADHD
  • Accelerated recovery from surgery or illness
  • Increased energy level
  • Improved sleep

The National Institute of Health concludes and accepts proof—it works!  Read here

Science facts here

Forest bathing in Canada  here

Health study articles concluding forest bathing is good for you here

Shinrin-yoku explained here

Trees communicate with each other article by New Scientist here

Books about trees:

The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben here

Article about this book in The Guardian UK here

Walks in the Wild by Peter Wohlleben here

**these books are the best and most informative books on trees & nature that I’ve read and I know you’ll love them**

Plant a tree –here is an organization that can help you

One Tree Planted here

You haven’t been sick in how many years?

Since 2006 when I started college and caught a cold/flu virus. Since that time I have made it safely through thirteen years of no colds, flu, sniffles, coughs, throwing up, or fevers. Amen!  I have had food poisoning once in the past 15 years that lasted 3 days–thanks to a not fully cooked quarter pounder about 12 years ago. My allergies–I’m allergic to mold, animal dander and ragweed, have been pretty good since I quit smoking several years ago. I sneeze maybe a dozen times a year now and take absolutely nothing for allergies in the way of meds anymore. All that to say I have had an issue to deal with since June that I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

For personal reasons my recent issue isn’t the point of my post–in all honesty you will thank me for this—lol. The real reason I am posting about it at all is because what I’ve discovered may convince others to make a change to their diet and lifestyle.
First of all what I’ve been dealing with is serious, but it isn’t contagious (I didn’t catch it), it isn’t life threatening, and it isn’t a disease. It’s an issue that has popped up in my body that is uncomfortable to deal with, hard to care for, and extremely painful. I have dealt with issues similar to this for several years, and it has finally gotten to the point of being a problem. One that is slow to heal and that even doctors struggle with knowing how to help other than to perform surgery which really isn’t recommended. I’m not trying to lead you on with mystery, but I’m just not willing to share the details on the internet. Suffice it to say it could be almost anything–and whether it heals or not seems to rely solely and totally on my health, diet, and lifestyle. Which of course is the story here and the real purpose of my post.

I’m in both the enviable and unenviable position of being able to reap the benefits of years of healthier living and dealing with an issue that almost solely relies on good health, healing, and lifestyle changes in order to heal and be healed entirely from this awful issue.

For three months I have not been myself. I have been unable to travel much, I’ve missed attending Farmer’s markets every week as I intended to do, we shortened our vacation, limited our weekend getaways, and had to forfeit a couple of friend get-togethers. The good news is my different projects in and around the apartment have been completed, I have done quite a bit of volunteering, and I have fortunately not missed any work. I really had to prioritize everything– summer fun kind of went by the  wayside. Free time was spent resting and when I was rested on the weekends I spent time in my garden or talking with my husband or catching part of a movie with him. My issue has caused me to be uncomfortable, feel helpless, unmotivated, scared, and out of sorts. I have seen my doctor, I have had him tell me what my issue is–I already knew, and I have followed his instructions on how to heal my issue. Again, I hate to be cryptic, but suffice it to say it is an issue associated with my digestive tract. I’ve been working on a healthier lifestyle for almost fifteen years now–this blog was actually created to act as kind of a journal for my journey. I started by trying to remove all of the chemicals in my diet because at the time I had just quit drinking and smoking. After I did that I started incorporating organic food and dairy in our diets. Soon after that I began changing out chemical cleaners/household stuff for non chemical cleaners. I stopped using all sprays, perfumes, dyes, candles, and began eliminating snacks, processed food, and fast food from our lifestyle. This has taken years–in no way can any of this be done overnight. There are a lot of sad moments when you realize how many things you may have to give up to live a clean, chemical free–as much as possible, life. We were never big consumers of this kind of stuff anyways, but we consumed enough. I spent years researching alternatives for everything. Nowadays all of that information is readily available online via good ole Google–thank goodness. It is more acceptable, daresay almost trendy, to do the kind of things I did fifteen years ago. Back then we got a lot of strange looks as well as some pretty negative comments about all the changes we were making. I never doubted once that what I was doing was the best thing for my husband and I to do–so we got over the negative comments and looks fairly fast. lol.

I wouldn’t say good health runs in my family. Based on information I’ve been able to find out about grandparents three generations back on both sides–the average age of death has been 80. Heart disease seems to play a major part on my Dad’s side and respiratory issues and arthritis and chronic pain issues (perhaps related to fibro and also the arthritis) on my Mom’s side. I didn’t know any of this information in 2004, but once I learned of it, I was motivated more than ever to make changes and stick to them. Somewhere around 2009 I began having GI issues related to intolerances. There were a lot of fruits, veggies, and foods I’d been eating for years that started causing me health issues. Though today there is a lot of disbelievers of gluten intolerance–it is a very real thing. I don’t necessarily think that it is 100% just the wheat or the lack of tolerance of chemicals, but more a person’s body/systems/ gut and it’s reaction to modern hybridized wheat combine with all the chemicals in today’s food system and its affect on certain people/immune systems. On top of having to eliminate wheat products, I had to eliminate all the gums–guar, zantham, locust, cellulose and all other food additive gums. Not much left for me to eat after removing everything containing preservatives, thickeners, and wheat. It was quite a shock to my system and I did feel defeated and angry for quite some time. Turns out for some reason my body is also missing the ability to break down short chain carbohydrates (fermentable carbs). So to stay healthy and symptom-free I follow a FODMAP diet. I also take a probiotic called Accuflora and in the last couple of years started taking some supplements after an intense amount of research coupled with consulting with my physician and a nutritionist.

I’ve been taking NOW supplements for four months and can honestly state I don’t know where I would be without them. I’m scared to think how much farther behind I would be in my healing without having something that was keeping my arthritis pain at bay. I’ve been taking glucosamine twice a day for four months and my pain has been cut in half. Now doctors and scientists and researchers say this is unlikely, but for me it has given me a reduction in pain–inflammation, and better mobility. I was low in vitamin b6 but unable to take it due to having IC –thanks to the Now P5P I’ve taken for almost three months my levels are improving! Last but never least I haven’t had an IC flare since I started taking D-Mannose for one week once a month almost eighteen months ago. If you are diabetic you have to be careful with this one. I am not so I’ve been taking it with great success.  I began having symptoms of IC in 2004 and really I believe I may have always had some form of it. To this day I firmly believe it is a low-grade undetected by labs UTI. That’s just my own opinion, but it fits with a lot of issues bladder related that I’ve dealt with in my life. I experienced flares that were pretty painful and at times life altering from 2004-2017. The physicians I had at the time both told me it would go away on its own. My current physician wanted to try a few procedures that had been effective in a small percentage of women. I declined. Eventually several things helped me to become flare free for the last 18 months–it took years, patience, and perseverance to get me to where I am now with this issue.

My supplements cost a total of $210.00 a year and I feel pretty grateful that they are the only thing in pill form  that I take. My diet for quite some time now has been low fat, low carb, low salt, no red meat, high in fiber, fruit, and veg. I enjoy very little caffeine, eat hardly any sweets, and I don’t drink or smoke. I sleep 8 hours a night and if it ends up being less, I take a nap when I can.  I walk year round–usually a brisk walk at least 3x a week. All that to say, I’m happy because the one thing  I’ve worried about since I quit drinking and smoking is my health and what affect both of those things had on it. Maybe I’ll never truly know but for now I’m good! Eating better, taking care of myself, and getting proper rest really works. My doctor is always blown away by my level of healthiness, both physical and mental health, and the fact I am not taking any kind of medication at all at my age (mid-fifties). He’s happy supplements are working for me–disclaimer: I would advise everyone to talk with your doctor before you start any new supplement or reduce or restrict things in your diet. I’m blown away all the time that I am as healthy as I am because most of my life I did not live very healthy, ate junk, and rest? who needs rest?

When I made the changes in my lifestyle they were pretty harsh, but they kind of had to be because I started seeing the light so late. So for anyone out there wondering if eating healthy, eating natural or organic, studying labels, restricting things that are bad for you, and getting good rest really helps– a resounding  Yes all of the above.

This isn’t a sponsored ad at all. I researched this company, its supplements, its reviews, and talked personally with people taking them and then made my decision. As I stated, I also talked with my physician and a nutritionist. I had labs drawn and because of my good health I am able to take supplements as needed. Taking supplements is a serious thing and many can interfere and even cause toxicity. Never take a supplement without consulting with your physician first. Always always remember to do all your homework and be prepared anytime you have an issue and visit with a doctor and be your own health advocate. No one thing is a magic pill-good health takes hard work and constant attention to changes, levels of stress, rest, weather, and your immune system.

So for now I’m getting better slowly but I believe surely. Had my health not been as good as it is I may have needed to take personal leave or just let everything in my life be put on hold until things progressed. The time period for healing what I have can be a year, but I hope to be healed by the end of month 3. If I’ve learned anything in my life it is to never ever take my health and well-being for granted.

One last thing I personally do not use Google persay to find answers to my health questions. I instead rely on https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions and https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/  for most of my research and information.

That’ s it for now–be well, take care of yourselves, and eat healthy, good for you, clean whole food and local if at all possible food!