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Saturday, June 30, 2018

A Grocery List I Don't Hate

It is just amazing to me how much grocery shopping has changed now that we are making better choices. Don't get me wrong- I still HATE going to the grocery store, and I still hate planning the meals, and blah blah blah. But at least I am organized and not wasting a boat load of money while I'm doing it.

Just click on the picture below to get the editable Google sheet that I made for my grocery list. When you click it, it will prompt you to make your own copy (that way we all aren't writing on each other's lists).
When you get ready to print pay attention to how many pages- you only need page 1.

And if you are printing this to insert into a Classic Happy Planner, you can set the custom printing size to 87% and it makes a perfect size- you just have to trim a little off before punching!

Happy Meal Planning! 

Friday, May 25, 2018

Half of Thirty

Before I get started on writing this post about the first half of my Whole30 journey, let me preface by saying that for the last 20 years I have treated my body like a garbage can. So there is a very distinct possibility that the start of ANY healthy program would show great results for me.
Also let me say that there aren't any affiliate links in this post. I'm not trying to sell you anything or profit in any way by sharing with you.
I am just overwhelmed at how things have changed for me.

Let me tell you (in one paragraph or less, please) why I even chose to start the Whole30. For years I have had issues with my stomach. Pretty much everything I ate affected me in a not so positive way. It got to the point this school year that I was taking two water bottles to work in the morning and not eating anything until I got home for the day.....just in case. Yes, I went all day without eating for 8 months. And I gained weight. I wasn't active and when I did eat, it was not a  good choice. Ever.

I started hitting the walking trail pretty hard at the beginning of Feb this year, and I was putting in some serious steps. But there weren't any changes in my body- not how I felt or how I looked. The Dr wanted to run a series of tests.Wanted to say that it was IBS and that I should take this little blue pill (not that one) 20 minutes before I eat to prevent the issues..

I decided I don't want to live like that. I needed to do something different.

So I searched and read several reviews and results from different programs. I needed to find something that was going to change the way I eat. I also needed to find something that he was going to do with me. I told him about the program and ordered the book.

When the book came, I read it from front to back. I made notes, marked recipes, and made copies of pages for him to carry in his lunchbox as a reminder.

And on May 9th we officially started the Whole30.
I'm going to tell you our results "so far" before I tell you what we have gone through.
As I am writing this, it is Day 14 and I have lost 24lbs. He has lost 37lbs. (And by doing so I have broken the ONLY rule that I had no willpower against....the scale. I was changing so fast, I had to know! You are not supposed to weigh yourself for the 30 days. I would like it known that I did hold out for seven days).

Did that grab your attention? I figured I'd hit you up with some numbers before I got to the end to keep you reading.

What Are Rules?
They are pretty simple. Until you figure out that these seven things are in everything we normally eat.

For 30 Days:

NO CARRAGEENAN (I didn't know what that was until I started either).

The book gives you some great recipes to start with. And also a 7 Day meal plan- to give you an idea of how to incorporate last night's dinner into breakfast. And then there's google and pinterest for finding more. I was most worried about the alcohol and the sugar. The alcohol really isn't that big of a deal. (But have you met me)? And I really don't mind not having "sweets". But it's not just sweets- sugar is in EVERYTHING. Ketchup, taco seasoning, dressing. And if there's no sugar, there's probably soy. Tuna, some hot teas, most seasonings I wanted to try. It is pretty restrictive when it comes to seasonings, but I am cooking with a lot of garlic, ginger, lemon, and regular old salt and pepper.

If you have done the Whole30 or you know someone who has, you know that while the results come fast, they do not come without a ton of work. I think it's worth it though, for us to see what we WERE putting in our bodies and to change the relationship we had with food for so many years. I thought I would list a few things that have been the best AND the most trying for the last two weeks.

One of the hard parts in this house is NOT EVERYONE IS DOING IT. So while I am planning and prepping and cooking and storing all this wonderfully delicious food, I am also making regualr dinners for the crew! We have come to a compromise, though. There WILL be repeats in the same week. Since Moose and I aren't eating the share of those meals that we used to, there's plenty for leftover. I was very frank and told them this was going to happen when we started. I refuse to throw out perfectly good food (as was visably noticeable by the weight I had gained).

On the same vein, they are trying the new recipes that we are having for our meals and liking a lot of them. So that means those meals can come back  when the 30 days are over. And Schmoopie has been eating fruit like crazy. There has been so much more in the house than before. And so much less of the junk that used to fill the pantry,

I have been IN the kitchen for two solid weeks. No joke. There's is not a convience factor at all. I cook/prep his breakfast and lunch for the following day every night. His containers have a special place  on the shelf. And I make my breakfast and lunch fresh everyday (because  I don't like cold eggs). And then there's making sauces- homemade mayo. homemade dressings. homemade kethcup.

To go along with all the cooking, there is a buttload of clean up! (That's where the kiddos come in)

You TALK ABOUT FOOD ALL THE TIME.You have to talk it over with you partner to see if they like the food that you're having,

You will READ MORE LABELS in your life that you ever have! The disappointment in both of our eyes when we see something that will taste devine but inevitably has sugar or cane sugar in it!

We had SEVERAL days in the first week where we were pretty grouchy. And there were a few headaches, but it all passed pretty quickly.

Those are some of the things that have been a little aggravating. BUT there have been so many NON SCALE VICTORIES. My skin feels and looks great. I have a boatload of energy. My clothes are way too big and that means I get to do a little shopping before we leave for the beach! Neighbors and friends who don't know we are doing the Whole30 are noticing and commenting on the changes. And we are changing the way we think about food! (I think that is going to be key).

And it's important to note that we have also upped our movement during this time. I am walking a few more miles everyday and I added resistance bands and yoga (courtesy of Youtube and Amazon Prime Video) .

It is our plan already to incorporate this new way of eating into our everyday when the 30 days are over. We just have too- plus I think I would miss all the fruit!

My plan is to get back on here at the end....I have a pic in a dress that I bought for a trip we took in the beginning of the month- I can't wait to try it on at the end! Maybe I'll even post a pic!

Have a great Holiday Weekend!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Shopping with Squirrels

Everyone loves a little giggle now and then and that is exactly what I am thinking with each cozy that I create. I like to think that every time someone takes one out to use it, they are not only using them for their purpose, but they also getting a little chuckle out of it.  And I get especially giddy when I think of the conversations they start! 😊

The profile link in my Instagram has all the information that you would need to get some coffee love on it's way to your mailbox. The problem is, they are all different links. And if you aren't exactly sure how you are wanting to purchase, it could get confusing. Until now!

Click to go to the Shop

You can always head directly to my shop. Every cozy that is currently available is listed in the shop.HERE
Each cozy has it's own listing. Be sure to read the descriptions because sometimes you can SAVE when you buy more than one. If this is the case, it will be noted at the top of the listing and there will be a separate listing for the bundle.
When you purchase from the shop, the cozies are between $10-$12 (depending on which one you order). Shipping is an additional $3.

Click to Read More !

Yep! The whole Calendar! We're talking turkeys, snowmen, rainbows, hearts, and so much more! This option has one themed cozy AUTOMATICALLY coming to your mailbox EVERY month for an ENTIRE YEAR! Yep! That's 12 cozies! AND you even get a surprise during your birthday month! 😉 This is done just like any subscription service! You sign up using the secure PayPal link and will be automatically billed $12 a month for 12 months. And the SHIPPING is INCLUDED!

Click to read more about Seasons!

This is the NEWEST way to have some coffee love each month! I've listened to feedback and now I offer SEASONS. The SEASONS are smaller 3 month subscriptions. The months that are in that season are listed. The main difference between a Season and a Whole Calendar is the Seasons have start and end dates for signing up for them- the Whole Calendars are available all the time. A Season can be paid for two ways: 1) through a secure PayPal link that automatically bills $13 a month for 3 months or 2) save $3 and do a one time payment of $36 through a PayPal link. Again- SHIPPING is INCLUDED!

Pretty easy, right? The best way to get all the info is to sign up for the newletter. I swear I'm not spammy. Just a couple emails a month to let you know which ones are coming or going. I also send out coupon codes to newsletter subscribers FIRST ! And sometimes are there are FREE items - and there are also giveaways from the shop that subscribers are already entered into automatically- just for being a subscriber!!! 

As always, if you have any questions at all..... you can DM, IM, use the convo on ETSY- or drop it here! 

Hope you have fun shopping!
See you at the mailbox 📪
💗 Squirrels

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

A Change of Plans

This post is a hard one. I haven't published one since May 31, 2016.A whole year. Even though I sat down to write one August 26, 2016. I started it, and then clicked "save" instead of "publish". I just couldn't do it. I couldn't finish it. I have been gearing myself up for sometime to complete it.

And then I thought, "Well, I'll just write a different post to keep my blog active." But I couldn't do that either. Everytime I logged in, the draft was there and I felt like if I just skipped over it to write something else that I was leaving something undone. Not really for the readers, but for myself. And there was no way that I could delete it.

Below is the draft. Untouched and unedited from August 26th. I don't know what I am going to add. I don't know what else to say. But I know that today I am ready to say it.

CHANGE OF PLANS Aug 26, 2016
This summer was going to be a very productive one.
I had a list a mile long of all the things we were going to declutter. And right after the end of school, the boys and I got started.
I started in our bedroom and got our closet cleaned out. It was pretty awful.
The next thing on the list was to get that garage cleaned out. There hasn't been a car parked in there in 5 or 6 years. It seemed like anything anyone ever didn't want was getting stacked in there with the claim that "one day it was going to go to the dump or to Goodwill". Well, it didn't.

The boys and I were making great progress on the garage. We actually took NINE trips to our local transfer station. There were some larger pieces of furniture, old decorations, and boxes of stuff that had not been opened since we moved here in 2003.
It was all going to go. The goal was to get the garage finished, take our yearly beach vacation, and then when we returned we were going to attack the attic. That was going to mean a lot more trips to the transfer station, but it was going to get done!

At least that is what we thought. Except we had a change of plans.

Instead of gutting out the top floor of the house, I was walking to my father's garden and taking pictures of it to bring back inside to show him. I had to show him the picures of the blooms on the cucumber plants and tiny cabbages that were growing out there because he couldn't go outside. The garden that he had labored over in the same spot for almost 30 years could now only be seen from the kitchen window. Maybe. If he was able to get up and walk in there.

Instead of sitting on the floor with the kids and going through old albums and yearbooks and toys that everyone thought they needed to save up there, I was sitting in his living room with my sister watching 3-hour westerns. The ones he had seen a million times before, but because he wanted to watch them again, we did.

Instead of waking up early to beat the heat up there, I was waking up on his couch. We asked the Hospice home health care people to put his hospital bed in the dining room. That way he could see out of his favorite window all day long if he wanted. The couch was only a few feet away and from there and I could hear him when he needed me.

And instead of making plans to lighten our load of all the things we had at one time declared a necessity, I was sitting in the funeral home helping my mother choose the urn that his ashes would be placed in before they were interred in the Veteran's Cemetery wall.

Six weeks. Just six very short weeks.

He was already sick when we left for the beach. We had mulled it over and over, trying to decide if we should still go. My sister had the same dilemma the week before. She had an out of town trip and had contemplated staying home because he was in the hospital at that time. I told her to go- I would be here to take care of him. And when it was my turn for our trip, she would be here. It was all planned out.

He was out of the hospital when we left for the beach but about half way through our trip my sister called. She didn't want to, but had figured that she would have wanted to know the latest news. He had to go back in and the pulmonary specialist had deteremined that it was not just pnemonia or COPD like they had thought, but instead it was pulmonary fibrosis. And there is no cure. And it's worse than they thought. And medicine is just going to "keep him comfortable". And we need to have the "family talk".

Devestated. I was 1,000 miles away from him and there was nothing I could do.
By the time we got back home I was down to just 3 weeks. Three even shorter weeks.

We started cooking whatever it was that he wanted to eat. His medicines had taken away most of his appetite and even more of his taste buds. He said everything had that same bland flavor. However, ice cream, puddings, and pies seemed to all still taste amazing. So if that was what he wanted, that was what I was going to make. Meatloaf and Salisbury Steak sounded good, too- so they immediately went on our family's menu so that we could take some to him. 

He was in and out of the hospital for the next two weeks. I was so thankful to be off for the summer and to be able to be there for him when he needed something. I was trying to plan out in my head how I was going to balance that when school started back. How was I going to be able to be at work all day and take care of the kids, the house, and help my mom and sister care for him? But his need for more oxygen was increasing. His ability to be mobile was decreasing. He was so thin and tired. And scared and angry. He just couldn't believe that he was THAT sick THAT fast. He was worried that he wouldn't make it to his birthday. He started talking about his advance directive. He said he didn't want to stay on machines. When I went to visit him the day before he got released from the hospital, he showed me his "new bracelet". It said DNR.

One week. There was no way to know that I only had one week. 

The call was made and hospice started. They brought him a hospital bed and walkers and larger oxygen concentrators. She said there wasn't any need for him to take all those medications that were making his stomach hurt and his food taste bad anymore. She gave us a folder full of booklets and pamphlets to read about what to expect. To be prepared. Nothing could have prepared us. 

I stayed every night after he went into the hospital bed. I bought a huge bag of yarn, thinking I could make him a special blanket while we watched tv together. I started a new series on Netflix, thinking I could get through it while he was sleeping. I never finished either. 

The evening of July 15th he had an "episode", which caused lots of coughing and required him to have more oxygen. More than the two concentrators could give. The hospice nurse came to evaluate him. She was concerned and was very candid when we walked her out. She said she wasn't always comfortable with giving time frames but she was pretty sure that we were looking at just a couple of weeks left with him. 

The next morning, the morning of his 69th birthday, he was gone.

And that is where I stopped. I have come back to that sentence over and over for the last nine months and I just could not think of what to say after that. What do you say? And why? I thought again and again, "what is my motivation for finishing this blog post"?
I still haven't  completely figured that out. I just know that writing about it felt right at the time, and there is something theraputic about coming back to complete it.

These next couple of months are going to be hard ones. They are going to be full of sentences that start " it's been a year since..." and all those sentences are going to end with something sad. I am dreading all of those sentences, whether they are spoken or just stay with me as thoughts.

There isn't a day, or a half a day for that matter, that I am not thinking about him. It could be his picture, a song he liked, a saying he was famous for, a joke that he would think is hilarious, or a moment that he's missing because he isn't here, whatever it is, it takes me a second to regroup my thoughts.

I am grateful that I have this outlet for myself to share my thoughts. I am thankful for the family and friends who will read them and know that this was something that I needed to finish.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Summer, Shopping, and Savings

Here we are in the beginning stages of summer. This means a multitude of things.
People around here will stay up later, Then they will sleep all day. And when they finally do awake. they are going to be HUNGRY. AS. BEARS.

I kid you not, I am probably breaking some sort of commercially licensed restaurant code buy doing so much cooking. (which I hate to do). One of them pops out of bed, I'll make a couple of eggs, clean that up. And then wait. Because there will be another one in about an hour- except this one will want some of the left over chicken with peppers in a tortilla. And then last but not least comes the biggest bear monster of all - the girl bear. She makes me happy because she can cook whatever she likes- its the crime scene she leaves behind when she is done that bothers me.

I joke about it, but it is important to me that they all have meals- at least 3 of them. Because when they wake up and come down in snack mode, they stay in snack mode ALL DAY! And there are lots of reasons why that is bad for them- just shoving a snack in their hole because they are "Bungry" (That's Bored+Hungry) starts to add up- on their bodies- and in the meal budget,

For a family of 5 which includes mom, dad, teenage girl with a hollow leg and lightening fast metabolisom, teenage boy who loves mom's cooking, and a teenage boy who would snack his way right into adulthood, we spend on average about $250 a week on groceries.
(And remember, I don't do the willy nilly walking in and throw stuff in the cart- I have a whole plan for all the meals for at least an entire week! Thanks to MealBoard - read more about them here,)

SO when I can find something to save me a little money every week, I jump on it!

I used to use the coupons that came in the Sunday paper, But all it turned into were ads for OTC medications for me to try and obscure brands of things that we don't eat. And
I definitely didnt want to become like a few aunts who will make a special trip to the store because she has 3 Oil of Olay coupons that are going to expire TOMORROW, so she has to buy them. (She then takes them home and sets them next to the 14 other jars that she did the same thing with a couple of months ago)!

I do use Coupons.Com occassiaonlly- I am able to pick and choose the ones that I know I will use instead of printing off a ton that will make it straight to the trash.

But the one thing that I was turned on to by several friends was Ibotta.
Holy Buckets what a saver there. Initally, I was turned off because I didn't understand how it worked. I thought I was going to have to be in the store and have the app out and involve the cashiers and there would be lots of buttons to push and I wouldn't be able to keep up with all of it! WHEW!

Turns out it's NOT like that AT ALL.
I look through the food items on Ibotta while I am making my list- sometimes I add a certain meal to my meal plan because there is such a great deal on the meat! I click on the things that are on my list this week to "unlock" them. Sometimes I have to answer a question like "Do you like chocolate or vanilla bettter?" or "Watch this short 15 sec video to unlock your item"- easy peasy. Now I have a list of things that I know I am going to save money on.

Sometimes it isn't even a particular brand! Sometimes you just buy  ANY BRAND of milk, eggs, ice cream, oranges.....and save!

 Once I have gone shopping, I come home, click Verify Purchases and I can either click on the pics of what I bought or scan the UPC. Then with Step 2, I take a pic of my receipt and within 24 hours (more like 15 minutes) they send me an alert that says it has been verified and that savings has gone into my account.

We have been using Ibotta for about 6 weeks and and look at what we have earned!!!! Just buying groceries (and adult frothy beverages).
To get that money into my hands to spend it - I can choose for my money to be transferred to:
A digital shopping card:
Wal-Mart Card
Amazon Card
Startbucks Card
Regal Card
Best Buy Card
and there are a couple of others.

It is so easy to use and so easy to save money! We are both logged into the same one, so if he is out and is going to buy some adult beverages and snacks, he'll take a peek and the savings pop right up!
Another cool part of Ibotta is the TEAMWORK. No, we don't have to shop or plan together, but for instance, I sent my link to my sister, two neighbors, and a guy at his work. Everyone uses it at their own pace. But Ibotta offers Bonuses and incentives for us to save. So our collective savings (we can't see what each other purchased, only totals) add up and as a team we have all reached a bonus $5 level this month- we all just got $5 added to our own separate accounts!
How cool is that?!?!
So I share my link with you- you get $10 right off the bat and I get $5! And I can add you to my team= the bigger our team, the more bonuses we get!
EXTRA BONUS- you get your own separate link that you have people use to sign up with! - so you can be a part of two teams!!! That's double bonuses!!!
It is definitely a win win for sure.
It is so increcibly easy to use!! Just use THIS LINK.
That link puts you on my team!! Yeah- we can be teammates! Don't worry, you'll get your own referral link too that you can send to friends and family.

And play around with it, check out the different groceries, retail, stores, restaurants, and even gas stations that you can use Ibotta to get cash rebates back quickly that you can spend!

The one key thing that you have to remember is that you have to have "unlocked" the item BEFORE you purchase it. And with the power of digital time stamps, they know!

I hope you'll check it out - I mean who doesn't love to save money?!?! And after you are signed up, be sure to send your link out!

Happy Summer. Happy Shopping. Happy Savings!

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