Monday, December 31, 2018

2019 What Do You Hold???

I’ve mentioned several things via FB live regarding the New Year, but there is something therapeutic about putting pen to paper and writing out a reflection of the old and a hope for the future.   So here we go!

2018 was a fantastic year for us.  It was a quiet year – a year of reflection and growth for me.   A year of quiet moments and rest!  And I so needed the rest.  I needed to sit in the quiet and just be, it was an amazing blessing.  There were also emotions that ran high and low, a bout of depression in the summer that ate into the fall.  There was a fantastic trip to the Grand Tetons/Yellowstone and a few weekend getaways here and there.   Jack was home much of year and I was happy his job didn’t have him traveling more.   Books were read, shows were binge watched and movies consumed.   I did a Covenant Precept Bible Study, one on Prayer, a study into Ruth and then begin diving into Romans.  I had weeks of consistent prayer time followed by times where I barely prayed at all.   Times where I felt close to God and times that I barely thought of him (guess what – He never moved other than to reach his arms out for me)!  We detoxed from sugar and discovered Young Living Essential Oils.   We ate healthier and further refined our diet and wellness goals.  We worked out and were lazy.  We argued and made up.  2018 was incredible, but 2019 is going to be AMAZING.

In 2019 I’ve chosen a word to focus on for the first time.  Many people do this, and I wanted to join the party.  The word I choose is INTENTION!  I want 2019 to be a year of intentional acts, intentional thoughts, intentional prayers.  I want the things in my life to have meaning – I want them to make my life and the lives of those around me better.  I want to be intentional in how I spend my time, intentional in my relationships, intentional in my Bible Study and Prayer Life, intentional in my giving and my volunteer time.  I want it to mean something – not just busyiness – Quality!  Life with intention is my goal.

With that I do have some plans.  I do not want to call them resolutions as they are a process – one we have been working toward and will continue to work towards.  There will be days I fail, but in 2019 it will be my INTENTION to get right back up again!

I want to focus on wellness in 2019.   I want to make sure all 4 legs of my wellness chair are strong – Spiritual, Emotional, Fitness & Nutrition.  

For the spiritual chair leg, I plan to continue digging into God’s word.  I plan to continue going to church and being active with our small group.  I plan to try and deepen the relationships within that group.  I plan to continue serving and look for other areas I can be of service – where the service is quality and not just busy.   I want to interact with those around me and show them the Love of God in everything I do.  I want to be mindful of my words and my attitude – making sure it is always a reflection of God.  And YES I know how lofty of a goal that is and that I will fail, but that is ok.   The point is to keep trying – to be better today than I was yesterday!   I want to know more about God, I want to listen to him more and try to follow the steps he has laid out for me.   I want that leg to be the strongest leg – The entire Backbone of my life! 

The emotional chair leg is trickier.  Emotions are fleeting and fickle and I firmly believe you SHOULD NOT live your life based on them.  God never promised you would be happy, he promised he would be with you.  That being he also didn’t call us to live in a state of fear or depression.  In fact, in John 10:10 Jesus said that “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”  Depression and anxiety are not my definition of an abundant life. 

So how do we fix it?  Well first and foremost prayer.  However, God also gave us tools to rectify some emotional issues as often they are caused by chemical imbalances in the body.    I am personally using Young Living Essential Oils to get off the emotional roller coaster and so far I highly recommend. it   Jack and I are both seeing results and couldn’t be happier with what the oils are doing for me.  Proper exercise and nutrition is also key to keeping your emotions healthy and we will be talking about how we are strengthening those legs in a moment.  

Depending, on your level of emotional issue (and we all have them) there are also medicines and medical professionals able and willing to help.  There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with asking for help.   So, if you are depressed or struggling emotionally, reach out!   Don’t sit alone – It won’t get better that way.

For me in 2019 I plan to strengthen my emotional chair leg through Young Living essential oils, proper nutrition, exercise prayer, and through trying to develop deep friendships with individuals that will help lift me up and vice versa. 

The friend part is going to be the trickiest – I struggle to make friends.   Many women my age have small children, or they are so busy that we can never seem to connect.   Don't get me wrong I have no issue with kids, but I find that many times it makes it difficult to really connect because I can’t converse about the most important thing in their life.  I have no frame of reference….  I also get tired of always being the asker.  I know – it’s not about who ask who to dinner/coffee/etc...,but after a while the friendships begin to fill one sided when you are always the one reaching out.   So that will be my personal challenge this year on this leg, because, I do feel that having at least a couple close friends is important.  I would absolutely love to find some couple friends for me and Jack – a couple we could go out with regularly – that would be the gold ring right here.   

The nutrition leg – this is the easiest to plan for and maybe the hardest to stick with 😊  We plan to do the 21 Day Sugar Detox again starting this week.  We did it in June/July last year and it was just amazing, I want to get back to not needing the sugar in my life.   I didn’t completely add it back last time, but I want more of it GONE!   After that detox we plan to eat a natural diet where we eat real food that is healthy and not processed.  We plan to introduce some natural sugars back (honey and fruit) and watch our portions.   Humans weren’t made to eat the average portion size in America – we were made to eat maybe 1/3 of it!      I also am moving us to organic produce/products and while I’m not quite jumping to grass fed beef, etc.. I am choosing meats with no added hormones when possible.    Jacks goal is to lose a significant amount of weight as well so I will be supporting him in that journey.

The Fitness leg may be the hardest for me… I know it’s the absolute weakest at the moment.   I hate to work out, I really do.  But it’s important for your body to move, we weren’t designed to be stationary.   So, Jack and I are kicking off Beach-body 21 Day Fit again this week. It’s a good program and is only 30 minutes a day – you can do anything for 30 minutes a day right?    In the spring we plan to get outside more, kayaking – biking – walking.   I can’t wait for the spring to get here… I want to be outside this year!  I want to be intentional about my exercise and do things I enjoy.   I also know I need to get my cardio endurance up and I need my upper body strength to increase.   My upper body strength being weak causes me numerous issues, including pain, so we have to work on this.

And those are the 4 legs of the wellness chair that I plan to intentionally work on this year – I want it stronger than it has ever been this time next year.  

2019 will also be a year of faith - of stepping out of my box!  I jumped off the ledge and have become a distributor for Young Living Essential Oils.  When considering going back to a traditional office job my heart just sank.  I couldn’t find any joy in the prospect, no excitement about the next adventure, nothing.  It caused me heart palpitations and stress that was tangible.   Thankfully, I’m blessed, and I don’t have to jump back into the corporate world.   Instead I’m jumping into entrepreneurship.  I just LOVE the oils and well all of Young Livings Products – I love what they do for me and Jack.  I love what they can do for us in the future.  I love the company, the quality of the products, their seed to seal guarantee, their environmental footprint, their charitable giving, their heart, I LOVE THEM!    I fully, 1000% believe essential oils are a gift from GOD and through them lives can be changed for the better!  Chains can be broken!  And I’m excited to be a part of it!   I’m also excited that Jack is on the journey with me – we are building this business together and I LOVE IT! 

So, yea, 2019 is going to be amazing!  It’s going to be a year I look back on and go “oh yea – that was life changing”!   Want to join me on the journey to wellness?  Want to strengthen your chair?    Drop me a comment – I’d love to cheer you on!

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Wellness - Where Are You

Wellness in my mind has 4 parts: Spiritual, Emotional, Dietary, Fitness.  This week my body told me I needed to pay closer attention to one or more of the parts.   That is the way it is – you can be really strong in one area, but if you aren’t watching all 4 you will have issues.  Wellness is a chair – all 4 legs need to be touching the ground or you will tip over and I tipped over.  The Dr’s really can’t put a diagnosis on it – which is frustrating – but my body is telling me it’s time to re-evaluate, that is for sure.  

But Lisa? You are always talking about removing chemicals and oils and etc… Why are you sick?  I am, and the oils did not fail me.  They have kept me as well as they could, they have kept me from being in –the bed for WEEKs like I would have been with a sickness a few years ago.  If I worked a typical job, I would have been out of 1 one day vs. 5.   They have been awesome, but I have let the fitness and the dietary legs slack a little and my body is telling me this.

I lost the weight I wanted to lose and after such I’ve kind of been slack on my eating.  We haven’t completely reverted, but with all the Christmas dinners and the like I have been eating more pre-processed carbs (bread, noodles, etc…) and have had more sugar than I normally take in.   I’ve also not been exercising at all. We stopped walking due to being busy and it being cold, I haven’t been doing my Beachbody videos – I just let it slip.

So, what is my plan? 
  1. Pray for healing
  2. Continue to study God’s word!   I’m starting a new Faith study with my aunt this week 😊
  3. Continue using my oils DAILY – allow them to help me replenish my immune system and help me to continue help with my emotional issues.  Plus, I like the smell 😊
  4. Take the medicines as prescribed - though I may not take all of these pain pills, they are highly addictive which I don't want and they make me feel weird :)   Ignore any random 3 AM post - it may not be my fault haha
  5. Get back to natural foods – Lower Carbs – really sticking to those that are not processed, Reduced Sugar, etc…
  6. Start working out again -this is the hardest for me because I simply don’t enjoy working out.  I don’t mind walking with Mama, but it’s cold so I know that won’t happen.  The Beachbody videos are good – it’s just never really been a joy for me…EVER.  I hated gym class.  But our bodies need to move so I’m going to start light this week with a yoga series and then ramp it up next week when my body has recovered some more.

That’s my plan – I pray God blesses it or if it’s not his will I pray he changes it for a better one.   What are you doing to help you get through this season of germs and stress?

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Young Living Essential Oils

So, we got our essential oil starter kit from Young Living about a week and ½ ago and I’m in love.   Jack and I discussed it and given the cost we decided to just try it – if it worked, we would invest more, if not it was a trial run.   We also said if we are going to try it – then we are going to really try it, learn how and really use them.  So I jumped in with both feet - learning, trying, bugging Lauren with questions, researching some more and of course using them!

It’s only been a week and ½ and I’m already sold and have been getting my next order ready.  I absolutely love them and the impact they are having on my life.   Below are some ways we’ve used them:
  1. Diffuse in the house.  We have diffused numerous combos of the oils since getting them.  I want more diffusers in the house, right now I’m moving mine from room to room.   We tried to get cheaper diffusers from Amazon but sent them back given how noticeable the quality difference was between them and Young Living’s Desert Mist.   I’ve already ordered a 2nd starter kit so we can get a replenishment of our oils and another diffuser.  Plus, I’m hoping they go on sale Black Friday.   I want one in every room and Mama’s!     We’ve diffused combos to help us wake up, to improve our mood, to improve our immune systems and to help us sleep … right now I’ve got Christmas Spirit diffusing which brings joy, helps protect from airborne viruses and bacteria and is healing to the respiratory system.
  2. Roller Balls to apply topically.  I’ve made several that we can apply to our skin – The rollers consist of oils and a carrier oils, which helps the essential oil interact with us better + it makes it go further, so win!   We’ve made:
    1. Be Well Roller – Using it 2 a day for immunity support.
    2. 2 Different Sinus Rollers – I’ve made 2 different ones to see which combo of oils works best for me and my sinuses.  I used to take a Claritin every day – I’ve only taken 1 since starting the oils and that was before I had the roller set up, so I was making do with drops.  This alone is worth it!  Jack is still using a nasal spray, but I’m doing some more research to see if there is a stronger combo of oils that will help him more.
    3. Headache Roller – OMG!  I normally take Advil at least 3 times a week for headaches, I haven’t had an Advil for a headache since Lauren gave me the sample roller 3 weeks ago!  I did take Tylenol the other day when my whole body hurt after being sick, but that was before I knew about essential oil capsules, next time I’ll do that instead.
    4. Tummy Roller – I was sick as a dog last week with what I believe was food poisoning.  I used this and never touched the pink stuff!  In Love I tell ya– Healthy healing vs. Chemicals.
    5. Rest Leg Roller for Jack and Mama – we are trying this combo, it helps but not a substitute for their meds.  There are some other recipes I don’t have the oils for yet that I want to try.
    6. Pain Relief Roller for Mama – this has helped her.  Its not complete and doesn’t last but a few hours, but it’s better than popping a pill.  There is a stronger pain combo that requires oils I don’t yet have that I want to try for her.   If this helps take away her arthritis pain… OH MY! 
  3. I’ve taken an Epson Salt and Essential Oil bath for muscle aches today after working on the Christmas Village all day.  I’m not in pain and the smell was so relaxing – awesome sauce.
  4. Drinking – I’ve made Citrus Water, Peppermint Tea with Oil to Supplement – both are good.  I’m still trying to find the perfect drink combo for Jack, but he likes the hot Peppermint Tea so at least I have one win.  The Citrus water was ok, but I didn’t love it – just being real.  I’ll keep trying though.
  5. Spray for Pillow – we have a spray for our pillows that helps us to relax as we start to sleep.
  6. Kitty Repellent - We made a spray for the tree to keep the kitties away; so far so good!  I'm yelling at them alot less.   We shall see if it holds true - I'm spraying it once a day ATM
  7. Cleaners –
    1. I’ve replaced my Windex with the Thieves Cleaner and I’ll never go back!  Streak Free Shine and it’s healthy!
    2. I’ve replaced the 409 with Thieves cleaner and am loving it in my kitchen so far.  I need to make the stronger degreaser recipe to have on hand, but so far so good.
    3. I’ve made a spray to wash the shower after we shower/bath – healthy way to keep it clean.  Hoping to replace Scrubbing Bubbles with this – too soon to tell though.

And that is what I’ve used in only a week and ½!  I have spent a good bit of time looking at ways to use them and ways we can get healthier in general.  Not to mention bugging Lauren, my friend and oil guru with questions.  I’m looking forward to trying to slowly rid our home of unhealthy, unnatural chemicals and instead surrounding ourselves with healthy alternatives that are making us stronger vs. poisoning us slowly.  

Given how much I love the oils I have decided to pursue the Young Living Business side as well.  I’m not sure I’ll ever make a ton of money with it as I have no intention of pushing it, but I do believe in the product.  I do believe our oils are better than the competition and while they have some cost to them, I do believe they are worth it – It’s true most of the time, but especially with oils – You get what you pay for!  

So, if you are interested in trying them out, learning more, or swapping from your existing oil company to Young Living please let me know.   I’m loving our journey to a healthier better us and hope you join me.

Friday, November 02, 2018

Kitchen Tips

I had trouble sleeping last night ... as I lay there my mind was circling with things, depression (reasons/solutions), better living, general thoughts and I started to get up several times to share them.   I may still share them in the days to come; maybe my journey can help someone else?  Maybe it will help me to type it out?  Who knows ... However, today I wanted to share with you something completely different and no where near as deep - kitchen tips and/or hacks!

I'm not a cook!  My first meal was not cooked until after I was married - I didn't grow up at my mother's hip cooking in the kitchen.  I've never loved it.   Actually, when I was getting married my mother and I realized I had never really cooked, well anything.   So we sat down and made me a cookbook.  It consisted of her talking and me typing - I treasure it dearly.   One recipe for fried chicken literally says "now watch it so you don't burn the house down".   Even with that tidbit of advice, I still almost burned the house down.  That lead to a hilarious story for another day - remind me to tell you one day.   Anyway, let's get back to the topic - kitchen tools and hacks.   As I said, I am not a cook, but I am organized and I am a firm believer in having the right tool for the right job.   My husband has his power tools and I have my kitchen gadgets.

Over the past 7 years or so we have embarked on a journey, in phases to get healthier, in that I've started cooking more and more.  Along the way I've found some tools and organization tricks that make it easier for me - some were my idea, most were gleaned from Facebook post and random internet searches.     Some you my already do - some you may find helpful - some will work for you in your space - some won't.  Use what you can, ignore the rest :)

But first the financial piece, because kitchen hacks often cost money.  I hate it when you watch a TV show and they say their budget is $50,000 to remodel a bathroom, they act like that's their loose change and then they proceed to make this amazing space that they are only having to pay the materials for.  So they walk away with a $150,000 remodel - they paid $50,000 for it and they act like it's a bargain anyone can afford.  It's annoying!   So, here is my financial disclaimer.  I grew up fairly poor.  I was extremely fortunate compared to MANY, but we didn't have money to throw around.  So I understand some of the tools shown may be outside of your budget right now.  Make a wish list, and put a tiny bit of money aside each month till you get the tools you want/need.   Don't get frustrated if you can't afford tool A, just skip that hack and go to the next one.  I'm very grateful to be in a better position today financially than I was, but we have to budget and have to be careful just like most families.  So with several of the tools shown/listed I had to set aside money for and plan accordingly.

Also, with the exception of 1 link (which is noted) I don't receive any commission off of recommending various tools. I  just thought you may benefit from having the links :)

And with that here my list of tips and tricks:

Wait and Get the Right Tool

You get what you pay for.   Just because a tool cost $20 vs. $60 dollars doesn't mean it's a good deal.  Do the research, read the reviews and get the tool that will last and meets your needs!   You may have to save up a little longer for it, but in the long room it's worth it.

  • You spend less money because you don't have to throw it away and buy another one in the future.
  • Nothing is more frustrating that using a tool that half works and trying to work around it's deficiencies.
  • Ok, maybe when you are in the middle of a recipe and the tool doesn't work at all when you need it - that may be more frustrating!
Cheap doesn't mean deal!

Instant Pot 

I can't rave about this tool enough!   It is absolutely amazing!   I understand that they can be pricey, but if you watch for sales you can get a pretty good deal.  Kohl's is known for having a really good pricing on them at various times (Black Friday will be a big one) and can often be cheaper than even Amazon.  I would recommend getting the 8QT at a minimum, so you can cook a whole chicken without issue.   There are so many recipes for this device that are SUPER easy and healthy.   It makes cooking at home actually fun!   If you get one send me a message and I can connect you with some amazing Facebook groups to help answer questions and some amazing recipe sites.

I personally have the Instant Pot DUO80 8 Qt 7-in-1 Multi- Use Programmable Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Steamer, Sauté, Yogurt Maker and Warmer and I LOVE IT!

Stock photo

Measuring Tool Organization

There is nothing more frustrating to me than being in the middle of a recipe and having to find the right size measuring spoon or cup.   I used to have them all in one drawer and had to hunt - GRRR.  I also have tried keeping them on the little circle thing they come on and dealing with that, but when cooking multiple things it gets annoying.   Hanging them up, while a good idea, doesn't work for my space and I really like having multiples of the same measurement so I can use it, put it in sink and have another one to use later in my recipes without having to stop and wash that one. So I use cheap $1 Store Containers to separate them in my drawer.  I wrote (using a sharpie) on the side and bottom of the container what size it holds.   So I can grab and go!  It takes a couple of extra seconds when I'm putting the dishes up, but it's so worth it! 

I do understand I'm blessed with ample drawer space in my kitchen, so this may not work for you, but if there is a way it can I promise it has been a game changer for me!

Counter Trash Bag

The designers of my kitchen needed some lessons on what a kitchen workflow should look like.  It's a little cramped in walking space, thus my trash can is not positioned to be where I normally chop and work on prepping food!   If you find yourself in a similar situation, save some effort.  Take a plastic bag and keep it open on your counter as you cook.  As you have scraps and trash throw them in the bag; then at the and of your cooking, throw bag in the trash can.  You've saved yourself a ton of steps and cleaned up as you went!

If you wanted to be more environmentally friendly you could have a paper bag or a plastic container that you throw in the dishwasher after, but I'm not there yet.  We all take our baby steps into a better, healthier, greener life.   I figure at least the bag is serving a purpose before being trashed.

You could also save the veggie scraps to make veggie broth, but I haven't tried that yet.

Cooking Utensil Oranization

Similar to the measuring tool tip above, I have my kitchen tools separated - serving spoons, separate from spatulas, separate from straight stirring spoons, etc....   I used the below drawer separators to make this happen and LOVE them.

Shred Chicken

I used to shred chicken with a fork and knife - I wasted SOOO Much time.  I saw this hack on FB one day and it changed my life!  Use a Hand Mixer, check out the video below (not mine).

Hand Mixer

Hand Mixer!  Get one and not a new fancy one.  This a tool you want solid, simple and sturdy.  I use this one and love it!


Meal Planning

This isn't my favorite thing to do - I'll be honest.  I think the reason I struggle with it is because right now we are phasing into new eating habits and I don't have a huge back list of recipes to fall back on so I spend alot of time researching.  HOWEVER, it is important!  If you plan your meals it makes things better on a number of levels:
  • You can eat in a more intentional manner - making sure your meals and snacks are healthy through out the week!
  • You can be more intentional with your buying habits - having precise grocery list that you can use to shop.  Allowing you to price compare and use coupons effectively. See my Coupon Post for some tips on saving money while grocery shopping.
  • It lowers the daily stress of figuring out what to eat.
A friend of mine made a very valid observation the other day - this will get easier! If I keep track of our daily menus (which Plan to Eat makes easy, see below) - the ones we like - I'll eventually have a go to repository of menus.   Once I  have 6 months or so of recipes under my belt with this new eating plan, then I can just plug and play.   I can always introduce new menus of course, but the stress and time consuming process of of starting from scratch every time will be OVER!

Plan to Eat

This site allows you to save your recipes in a digital format, plan out your menu's and then it populates a shopping list for you!   They have a mobile app that enables you to check items off as you purchase them (or as you confirm they are in your pantry).  It's about $35 a year, but Black Friday they typically offer a sale so put it on your list :)      You can also share recipes with friends + they have an amazing browser add on that lets you clip recipes easily from various websites!

For the really Tech Savy -  I also have a tool I use with it called snagit that let's me take a picture of a recipe from a book.  It then, converts it to text and I can copy and past it into the app.  That's a little technical for some so if I just went over your head ignore me and focus on the app itself - it's AMAZING without this trick!  If you want some more workflow details on this send me a message :)

Plan to Eat

Disclaimer: If you buy from link shown I do get a little bit of commission.  I'd recommend it anyway, but just to be upfront and honest!

Immersion Blender - Multi Tool

I bought this gadget, because I was beginning to make my own mayonnaise at home and this was required.   I use it for the immersion blender of course, but more often than that I use the food processor function.  I have a full size Hamilton Beach food processor that I love, but it takes time to put together, has multiple pieces and can be a pain.   This little gadget is amazing for doing a quick chop of an onion or something similar!   And it's not the priciest model by far.  I did a ton of research before buying it and after using it I can say without reservation - 5 Stars!    Warning though, it's blade is REALLY sharp -sharper than other food processors.  I have the scar to prove it.

Cuisinart CSB-79 Smart Stick 2 Speed Hand Blender, Stainless Steel/Black

Dreaded Spice Cabinet

I got so tired of looking in the spice cabinet and having spices fall on my head.  Hunting behind bottles for the one I was looking for.  And then finding the bottle, only to find my tablespoon doesn't fit in the opening and that pouring it out of the container is a disaster in the making.   Enter the 4 OZ mason jar!   I took all of my spices, put them in individual mason jars, wrote on the top with a sharpie (which can be cleaned with rubbing alcohol if you need to reuse lid) and put them in my drawers in ABC Order.  I put empty jars at the change in letters to allow new spices without having to redo the drawers every single time!   It takes up 3 drawers, but it's a game changer for me.   I get not everyone has this many drawer's but there are a number of gadgets at home depot that could be used to turn a cabinet into mini-drawers and it is so helpful!

I keep the extra spice in a Tupperware container in the laundry room so I can refill as necessary.

Drawer Lighting

When I did the spice organization I found myself needing a flashlight to read them.  Jack found these cheap lights for me and they are amazing and fairly cheap!  You have to charge them every few weeks, but they auto cut on when I open the drawer.

Lettuce Salvation

Want your lettuce to last longer?  Put a paper towel in the bowl (bowl does need a lid) with it - the towel absorbs the moisture and the lettuce last longer! 

Tupperware Organization

Picture of how my Tupperware is organized.  I didn't have the room to do this until we redid the laundry room with cabinets so I get it if you can't but I do love it.

Under the Sink Skillet Fun

I use a divider to stand my skillets up!  I love being able to get to the one I want without having to deal with stacks of pans.  I still have my pots and pans stacked (I hate it) but haven't figured out how to fix it yet.

Product Here:

Baking Pan Organization

I use a different divider for baking pans, because they vary in size so much, but same principal as skillets above.

Product Link:


Sharp knives are a must!   I use CUTCO - they are expensive and an item you need to save for, but you'll be thankful you did.  They have a lifetime warranty, free sharpening for life and are just amazing!  If you are interested I have a representative I can recommend.   I also love they fact that college kids are typically the ones selling them, so you are directly helping someone become their future selves!

Oh and their scissors!  I use them daily!

Note: you can purchase the knives individually and build your collection over time.  That is what we did.  I LOVE my knives.

Image result for cutco knives

If you made it this far, congratulations on sticking with me.  I hope this helps you in your journey to be a healthier you!   God Bless.

Grocery Shopping Savings

So the other night I stayed up until the wee-hours of the morning researching how to save money on groceries. The next day I put into practice what I had researched and I wanted to share my findings as I had promised a couple of people I would. Warning LONG - Detailed Post!

Broad Strokes:
1) Get a grocery list and stick to it - don't spur of the moment shop without research.
2) You can price compare items from various stores online now or via phone apps.
3) There are several rebate apps that give you money back after the fact.
4) Check your store's app and the manufacturer websites for coupons.
5) Use other people's research. The Krazy Coupon lady for example does a ton of work for you. ->

Detailed Breakdown:
1) I prepared my menu on PlantoEat. This site allows you to save your recipes, plan menus and then it auto-populates your shopping list! It cost roughly $35 a year, but it's so worth it to me. If you are interested sign up via this link and I'll get a little bit of a kickback.

2) I checked Krazy Coupon lady site (see above for link) and Kroger's website for any special deals they had going on. If it looked like a really good deal I added the item to my shopping list. There is a person who has a site dedicated to Kroger - I haven't really used it yet, but plan to next time. 

3) I checked Ibotta and Check51 (2 of the rebate sites I use - will provide more info in a moment) to see any amazing deals they had or if they had something to add to one of the retailers coupons. If so I added those items to my shopping list.

4) I checked several of my common manufacturer websites and a general coupon site for coupons. Most will have some, but these are the main ones I checked. If I found something amazing that I would use then I added it to my shopping list. I'm sure I'll add to this as I go deeper.

- General Coupons:
- Proctor & Gamble:
- Arm & Hammer:
- Kroger Coupons:
- Flipp App -> Allows you to view online circular ads that normally come out in the paper. This way you can see sales in your area.

5) I printed all of my coupons (except Kroger)

6) I took my shopping list into my kitchen and marked "bought" anything I had. Taking into account sales/coupons - if it is something that won't go bad before I can use it and it's on sale I may use this as an opportunity to stock up and not mark it as "bought" .

7) I pulled up Amazon, Costco Kroger, Sprouts and Walmart's websites on one screen and my shopping list on another and proceeded to price check my items (taking coupons into account). As I figured out which store was cheaper I moved that item to a specific shopping list for that store inside PlanToEat and made notes about the price.

Note: these are my stores and I'm going to at all of them anyway so I'm not wasting gas just driving around. Costco because of their meat, Kroger because well it's Kroger, Walmart because it's cheaper on a lot of things(I refuse to buy meat or produce there) and Sprouts because they the only ones to carry some of my items. Also Kroger and Walmart are within 1/2 mile of each other here... Your chosen stores may be different but you could still apply same principals.

8) I organized my coupons by what store I would use them at and put them in a small envelope (1 for each store). If I had printed some that would not be used yet I filed them away in an folder I have by expiration month.

9) I went shopping buying only what I had intended to buy at the store (or online) I intended to buy it at. With PlanToEat's app I can pull up the shopping list on my phone by store, which makes it super easy! Some items that I couldn't price check I left in the main shopping list and price checked as I went.

For Example: I buy meat at Costco often but can't price check it online... so I had recorded the price from Sprouts and Kroger when I did my online research. (Because I refuse to buy meat at Walmart). Then I checked the price at Costco before determining where to purchase it at. I went to Costco first given they were the only store I couldn't price check online....

10) I submitted my receipts to the rebate app for items that qualified. Here are the rebate apps I use:

- Ibotta App - I and several others have had great luck with this one. If you sign up use this link or the referral code below so I can get a little cash back :) Referral code: lnodplo Link ->

-Checkout51 App -> I've had some success with this, not quite as much as Ibotta, but I still spend a few seconds taking a look. If I bout something they have - YAY - Free Money :)

- Fetch Rewards -> Just started using this so can't speak to it's usefulness yet. But I'm giving it a try. If you sign up please use my referral code so I get some credit  :) FRWEB

Additional Tip: If shopping Online you can go through home to get cash back on items you purchased at many retailers, including Amazon. I'm just testing it out and can't say if it's great or not, but worth a shot. If you sign up please use my link so I get some credit:

Also on Amazon you can load a tool called "honey" that will price compare for you.

It took a little work, but I was always price checking on my phone at the store anyway so this really just moves the work from there to home where I can do it in my PJs  :)

If you've made it this far - WOW! Congratz for sticking it out.
I'm sorry for the long post, but I wanted others interested to really benefit from my research vs. staring out like I did with nada.

I'm sure I'll learn more as I go, but this is a good start as I look to trim down some of the grocery bill in our household.

Do you have any additional tips? I'd love to hear them!

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Lofty Goals & Reality

Warning: Random TMI post!

Some of you know – some of you don’t, but I’ve been struggling with depression lately.   Not diagnosed by a doctor, but just a feeling of lethargy, a desire to do nothing.  I’m not sad – I’m not anything.   And that ladies and gents is the problem.

I’ve spoken to trusted advisers and was told basically – just do.  Do it, even when you don’t feel like it, just do.   My question was how?    I’m not writing this as a sob story – I’m not writing this for attention.  I’m writing this, because I’m struggling, and I know I’m not the only one.   I’ve had no earth-shattering event in my life, my marriage is rock solid, my husband incredible, I’m not stressed, I’m blessed to not have to work, I’m the picture of what a pretty, happy life should look like and yet…   I struggle.   I assume I’m not the only one.   So, what am I going to do about it?

I’ve been thinking about this.  I’d like to say I’ve been praying, but let’s be honest – that desire to nothing extends to prayer.   I’ve come up with a game plan that I tried last week… it worked for a couple of days and then nada.  The problem I think – or at least my new rational of thinking is that I get these plans, things I want to do and when I don’t do one of them I figure ah well, screw it all, start over another day.  When in reality I should just continue as if I didn’t miss.   But again, how?  How do you break the cycle?   I don’t know the answers … I do know I’ll keep trying. 

A friend posted something today about routines and app she uses - > FlyLadyPlus   Maybe it’s the answer?  Maybe it’s just another thing I’ll try and give up on.   I don’t know, but I’d love to hear how you break yourselves out of the cycle.  How do you take the “just do it” and actually execute on that? 

I’m also thinking a lot about, when I do break the cycle, how do I want to live my life?   I have tried different food/exercise plans, different prayer techniques, different things.   I tend to be a binge person – I’m all about an activity for a bit then drop it like a hot penny, normally because I enter a state of lethargy and just don’t want to deal anymore.    Its not a healthy cycle – this much I know.  I also know that the medical professions answer is drugs of some type which I’d prefer to avoid. I’ve tried in the past and I didn’t care for the side effects and the addictive qualities, not to mention I don’t feel they helped, just put me in a fog.  I’m hoping to avoid them and find another way out.

I’m rambling at this point, but here are some of the things I’m thinking about in my lifestyle – Routines/Things I want to do – Does your mind circle like this?  What are you doing to make your family healthy?  I know I feel like sometimes I bite off more than I can chew, but hey right now I don’t feel like chewing anything so maybe that is it?

·        Exercise:
o   Walk with Mama
o   21DF of equally strenuous program with Jack 5 days a week.

·        Bible Study
o   Really far behind on the Roman’s study – struggling to dig in and do the homework or even to care.
o   Why does everyone seem to feel something about God but me?  I know he’s real – I know he loves me – So why don’t I feel anything?

·        Prayer
o   I have a prayer journal with specific prayers for specific days, but I find it gets stale and begins to feel like it is routine vs. honest.
o   Hard to pray for people in your circle when you don’t even know what is really going on with them – only so much “your will be done in their life” prayers you can say.
o   Need to recommit to a concentrated prayer time though
o   Without structure it ends up being nap time
o   How do I update prayer journal?   How do I keep it fresh and honest?
o   How do I make myself pray?
o   How do I not rush time with God?

·        Friends/Family
o   How do people have that circle of friends that is more like family – the family you make someone said recently?  How do you have friends that when something happens in your life your first instinct is to call them? 
o   How do you deepen family relationships? 
o   How do you really do life together? 
o   I hate chitchat – can you do life without chitchat?  Conversation with a purpose - sure, but sit around and talk just to hear yourself talk - NO

·        Food
o   Redo 21 Day Sugar Detox?
o   Move over to a Keto Diet without pushing the fats/monitoring the numbers given it’s not weight loss for me but health?
o   Help Jack with his low-calorie diet which is what he needs with traveling – try to keep it low carb/low sugar as well.
o   Prep – this is what kills me on all of this!  I don’t mind cooking.  But planning the menu and grocery shopping, ugh.  I HATE IT.  How do I make this fun?  How do I push myself to do this in a timely basis so it’s not always just ugh?
o   Should I keep a food journal of what I eat and how it makes me feel ?  Is my diet really what’s causing the depression?    

·        Oils / Chemicals
o   Do the Young Living Oils work? Will we use them if I buy them?
o   Do I really need to stop using chemicals when I clean?  I like some of my cleaners- alot of my cleaners.  They make it easier – am I killing us?

·        House Cleaning
o   Every Tuesday we clean – One Tuesday is Mama’s side, one is mine.
o   This Tuesday we didn’t do mine – just couldn’t make myself do it.   Why?  Why can’t I just do it…?

·        Volunteer
o   Help others with various task through Journey – I’m signed up, it’s something I know I can do and yet there is no joy.
o   Isn’t volunteering supposed to bring joy?

·        Work
o   Need some surplus income.
o   Really don’t want to go back to an 8-5 job – will if I have to but I really don’t want to.
o   How can I make income and actually enjoy it?  

As you can see – I have ideas, I have things I’m questioning, things I want to do, things I know will be good for me and for my family.     My point in typing all of this out?   Not sure I know – just felt I needed to.   So here – My brain dump online for all to see.   Hope it helps someone know they aren’t alone.   Hope we can figure out how to move – one step – one moment – one choice at a time.

Friday, August 31, 2018

9/1/2018 – Yellowstone Trip – Day 7

Today was more laid back, less “go go go” but still very nice.   We got up, packed the car given we are leaving West Yellowstone today and headed out to our last breakfast at Old Country around 9 AM.  We had the same waiter, same service and same food.  I’m going to miss this place.   They actually close the restaurant for the winter and reopen only in the summers which surprises me as it had that “local” feel to it.  I assumed they stayed open year-round for the residents of the town. 

We then headed to see Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and the falls it contains.   The drive to the canyon was a good hour drive so we got to relax along the way.  We did get to take some pictures of a bison on the way though which was cool.   By time we got to the Canyon area it was around 11 AM.  We went in the visitor center, got some info, looked around a bit and then started our sightseeing.   Today was not a lot of hiking as the trails that are worth hiking are closed for construction, so it was a hop in and out of the car for the vista type day, which was ok with us.  

We spent a good 2 hours seeing the canyon and the falls from different vistas.     We then headed back to the Canyon Visitor area to get a lite lunch, which didn’t happen.  We ended up getting full regular size lunches, but the food was ok.  It was a cafeteria style set up.  I got a make your own Japanese Wok meal with steak.  Mama and Jack opted for the comfort food station with chicken fried steak, ribs, etc.… 

After lunch we meandered in the gift shops before heading out to our reservations for a covered wagon ride and a cookout.   We were supposed to meet them at 3:45. Along the way we stopped several times to take pictures and just enjoyed the journey.

Once at the Corrals we listened to the safety talk and then loaded in the wagons.   I will say for the $$$ they pack the wagons way too tight.   4 could fit comfortable per seat and they wanted to put 5 – I ended up moving to a row on the front which was inconvenient given our guide sat right in front of me, but it was better than feeling like you were in a coach airplane seat with your shoulders touching.
The ride was peaceful, and the guide was entertaining.   I was a bit of a mood, so I just sat and enjoyed the ride trying to shake it off.   One funny thing is that the carts were pulled by 2 draft horses – the one in front of me passed gas the entire way … I mean almost every step.   It didn’t really smell, just made a noise that the 6-year-old kid next to me found absolutely hilarious.   It was cute… his uncontrollable giggles at the farting horse.

Once there we unloaded, found our table and they rang the bell for dinner.   It was steaks, potato salad, corn salsa, watermelon, etc.…  The food was good, but I wasn’t really starving… should have ate the light lunch.   However, it was nice and eating outside in the valley was really nice.    After we were done a Bison came right near our area – I was getting some really good pictures, but then they herded us back and chased the Bison away as he was getting “too close” to the site.   In my opinion they should have left him alone and let him make his route the way he wanted too.   Everyone was staying the proper distance away from him.   These creatures are not hostile unless you provoke them.  They walk right next to the road with all the cars and stare at you…ah well.   They are however massive weighting over 2000 pounds!    I got some good pictures and the Bison still went on the trail he wanted to go on – he was stubborn and just went around the horse corral.  

During dinner they had live music and after dinner and the bison one of the helpers told stories which were quite funny.  True, probably not, but funny.  One of them was making fun of the singer about how long he could stay on this temperamental horse.   The punchline being it was the bronco machine at Walmart. 😊   The other was about Yellowstone hiring him to be in an Elk costume and pretend to be an elk for the tourist only to be chased by a bear who ended up being another employee – again true probably not, but funny never the less.

After dinner we rode back via wagon to our cars and headed on to Cooke City MT.   On the way we went through Lamar Valley and saw several heard of Bison, many of which were crossing or right next to the road.  I turned my car door into a convertible top and sat on it while Jack drove.  I got some good pictures that way and didn’t fall out on my head so win!   It was fun to be that close to these massive animals and to see them.  They were making noises and you could tell one of the males was trying to get the females attention…   There were also babies.   It was really neat.

Now we are at the Super 8 in Cooke City.  The reviews on this place were horrible, but so far it seems fine to me.   Just a hotel room – it seems clean and the rooms are spacious.  I’m not sure why the reviews were so bad.   Tomorrow we drive the “most scenic highway in America” according to the literature before we book it down to Salt Lake for our flight back on Sunday.      

Before I call it a night just a quick recap of wildlife we’ve seen so far.   Bison, Bald Eagle in flight, Pronghorns, baby snake, chipmunk, squirrel, Raven, Bear, Coyote, Ducks, Geese, Other unknown birds….

😊 I could stay out here for a LONG time!    

Sleep well blogland!

Thursday, August 30, 2018

8/31/18 – Yellowstone – Day 6

Today was long but amazing.  Everyone seems to have gotten their second wind… or more likely we are adapting to this higher altitude.   Air Thinner = Everyone tired until they adapt.   Today though everyone was able to go and to keep going.  We started at 8:30 AM and got back at the apartment around 10:30 PM so an absolutely full day of awesomeness.

First, we had to fuel ourselves up for the day, so we ate breakfast at the Old Country Restaurant again.  Same waiter as yesterday, Brock, same great food, same affordable prices.   Loved it!   We then headed out to tackle our day. 

Our first stop was Gibbons Falls.   They were not extremely high or free standing, but they were still really pretty.  We didn’t do the ½ mile hike down to get a better view because I knew we had several walks planned for the day, so we just took a few pictures from the overlook and headed on.   Something in the air at this stop really aggravated Jack’s eyes so we swapped drivers, so he could put some drops in and close them for a few minutes while we headed on to our next stop.

Artist Paint Pot came next.  Here we walked the mile loop to see the different geyser pools, the colors from the various bacteria in the waters was quite pretty.   However, I think once you’ve seen one group of them you may have seen them.  It was a nice walk though and the air was cool.  A piece of this walk was several stairs and Mama handled them like a trooper.    You can’t ever say she lets her body limit what she does … she pushes it to the limit that is for sure.     The view off the top was outstanding and the pools were pretty, so it was worth it.

We then headed down to the North Geyser Basin which was supposed to be a 3-mile hike, but part of the trail was closed so it was probably closer to 2 maybe 2.5.     We did the Porcelain and Back Basin sections of this.   At one-point Mama got the shakes, but something, I believe the Lord, had prompted me to make sure we had snacks on this leg of the journey, so we stopped at let her eat a bit before heading on.  The Lord does look after us, that is for sure.   

Once we got on the Back-Basin section part of it is in the forest with benches.   We sat at one for a while to rest and enjoyed watching the chipmunk run around.  I hope I got some good pics, time shall tell.   There are chipmunks everywhere here and they are super-fast and seem to always be moving.   They are so cute.     By time we got 2/3 of the way through this walk though we were all done with geysers…   I was getting that irritability I get when I’m hungry (even though I don’t feel hungry) and I was really glad to see the car.   I am a Snickers’ commercial!

We then booked it to Gardener, the town right out side the north entrance, to get some food.  We passed so many beautiful things on the way and I kept promising myself we would stop on the way back, so I would go eat.  It was so hard to pass them though…   We ate at Yellowstone Pizza and it was delicious!   I highly recommend it if you are in the area.      The food was good, and it overlooks mountains and meadows.   During lunch several pronghorn came to munch in the meadow; it was just nice to sit, eat and soak it in.

After lunch we began to head back and hit the sites we missed, but of course we had to take pics of the Roosevelt Arch first!  That is like a right of passage for visiting Yellowstone I think.   By this point my agenda has kind of been thrown out of the window, because its 4 PM there are so many gorgeous things I want to stop and see.   We stopped on a whim and hiked a bit in a meadow and hill to get a view of the valley below.  We stopped and climbed on rocks, climbed down to rivers and generally just had a fantastic time.   The scenery in the northern section of the park is so dramatic and breathtaking.  This section is by far my favorite part of Yellowstone so far.  I could sit and just be here…

We also stopped by Mammoth Springs on the way back.  When driving through the area with all the buildings there was an entire herd of pronghorn including a male with a full head of antlers just hanging out in the grassy square they have in the center of the “town”.   We stopped and got a ton of pictures.  He was so majestic, and it was so odd to see him in town surrounded by people…  He charged another pronghorn at one point, trying to mate her I believe completely ignoring the people watching him and the cars passing by.   They are used to seeing us, that is for sure.

We then stopped by the Hot Spring formations themselves and they were very unique and pretty.   Almost like frozen waterfalls in places, though the water was still flowing over them even if you couldn’t see it.   They were also varying colors which was neat…   there was a girl that was following us in her car through the drive through part.  Following as in … going to see the same things at the same time, not in the stalker sense.   Anyway, I could tell she was serious in the composition of her photography, but I could also tell she was new at it.   I don’t know something just told me…   she was taking pics of a flower with her standard lens and I asked if I could show her something…   I got out the Macro and let her use it for a couple of pictures.   She was elated – I think she will become quite serious in her photography.  There was just something about her, the way she waited to pose the shots, the angles she was trying to get…  I hope I helped to inspire her.  When her work is worth millions maybe she will remember the lady at Yellowstone?  

After the springs and stopping a zillion times to take pictures of the scenery we headed back to the apartment.   Twice on our ride back we had to stop and take pictures or at least slow down because a Bison was walking quite literally down the middle of the road.   He was taking his sweet time and knew without a doubt he owned the road and everything in it.     It was surreal – here you are driving along and then a Bison, which is quite large, is just there, in the middle of the road walking by you like it’s a no big deal.   Amazeballs!

Once we got back to town we stopped at a few of the souvenir shops to get our picture frame, Christmas ornament, Jack’s hat, etc.… the obligatory souvenirs that we love.  It’s funny—many people go for expensive stuff?  Jack and I like the cheap souvenirs that are probably made in China… ah well.   We also grabbed a couple of jackets that we saw – they seem to be well made and the price was good so win!

By this time, it was 9PM and we still have not had dinner, so we headed over to the Otter Bar.  Brock, from Old Country recommended it to us this morning.  We ordered our drinks and asked for straws to be told in no uncertain terms the do not have straws.   It immediately didn’t sit right, not that don’t have straws as several people are cutting them out (though they could get paper straws and not have an environmental issue), but the tone and way he said it.   When he came back to get our order I asked him “why they have no straws” to which he explained the environmental issues we were already aware of.  I politely suggested he give an answer like that next time someone ask for straws and it would go over much better with his customers.    He apologized and after that seemed to be much nicer and approachable.  

We had jalapeno wontons as an appetizer per Brock’s suggestion and OMG they are good!  We should have just ordered 3 helpings of those – they were that good.   Our food was good too, but those were amazing.   As we were going to leave I asked for a paper cup for my tea to be told they don’t have those as well.  He laughed and said he has no idea why though… It was a good meal, but my yelp review will mention the lack of to go cups.  If I pay $3 for a drink I expect to be able to take it with me…   The food was good though and the service was also fairly decent after our first communication, so it was a win.

Now we are back at the apartment and everyone is asleep.   We check out of here tomorrow and will be sleeping in Cooke City tomorrow, which is on the east side of the park.   Tomorrow is also a busy day but fun – we are doing a wagon ride / dinner!   I’m looking forward to it and will let you know how it goes.   Until then sleep well Blogland!

Jamaica Day 2 and Part of 3

I'm relaxed - I mean really relaxed and it feels amazing.  Yesterday after the post they showed us a new room and I was really undecided...